Sunday, December 11, 2016

Confidence...gone. Right When I Need It Most.

So, our oldest child is trans. We're going through the process of changing her State & Federal paperwork. It's supposed to be really simple in our state: Find out how to fill out the many forms, fill them out, get a doctor's letter, turn everything in to the county with a check. They set up a date & if there are no objections (like from a ex-spouse or conservative Christian grandparent or whatever) you go and pick up the signed court order at the appointed date & time. If there is an objection, you attend a hearing.

I showed up early on Friday to pick up the hopefully signed court order & was dressed just barely nice enough for court, just in case. It was a good call b/c I ended up having to stand in front of the judge after they were done with everyone else. However, my child was not with me since I was expecting to be able to just pick up the paperwork, as we'd not been notified of any objections.

The judge called out my name. My still male legal name, since that's who is actually filing the petition on behalf of my daughter.  I stood up, the only other person in the room besides him and the clerk. He asked me to confirm that I was [male name]. I said yes. He said, "And you're the biological parent of [child male name]", which I confirmed. A few more rounds of strange confirmation happened. I stayed cheerful & answered his questions.And strangely, he said it's unusual to do both the name and gender at the same time for a minor (it's not). Then he started talking about how - even though it's not regular procedure for this, and he's not a doctor or psychiatrist - he likes to see the petitioner if they are a minor.

Then he starts asking about where she goes to school, and whether she undresses in front of the other girls in the locker room...

So now my spouse and I and our child have to return to his courtroom tomorrow morning so he can see our daughter for himself & then decide if he is going to grant her her name & gender change. And by the way this is in California, not Tennessee or Indiana. A county that has a long standing reputation for being extremely liberal & progressive.  If I'd butched up and gone as [male name] so that my appearance matched my I.D., I'm guessing there would not have been any problem. Neither of us thought it would/could be a problem.

It hit me that evening as I was recounting the experience to my spouse. Either one of two things is happening. He doesn't approve of any trans minors changing their paperwork (although by law his opinion is not supposed to be part of the process at all; the whole thing has been rendered an almost clerical procedure). I think I'd have heard from that from other local parents or advocates/activists. Or, he especially doesn't approve of a trans parent helping their trans child get through life without the fear, anxiety, stress and harm that she went through. I'm guessing it's the latter. Even in trans or mixed LGBT crowds, when people find out that my child is also trans they distance themselves immediately. I get the vibe that they suddenly thing that somehow I influenced her.

 In reality I had my gender crash before she was old enough to know who she was, but my spouse and I decided to keep it a secret until we'd decided how we wanted to deal with it as a couple, and as a family. Then she came out to us some months later and I put dealing with my gender on hold for the most part. That's why it's taken me nearly a decade to move forward; my family comes first. It's how I was raised. So we took her to he most experienced therapist on the West Coast we could find, who at the time had met perhaps 50 or so trans children. And we joined the just-beginning parental support groups. The therapist confirmed that yes, our daughter was trans and no, it didn't seem it was anything that we'd done, including my being trans. Our daughter still didn't know about me & the therapist didn't think we should tell her. I'm not sure for how long. Forever? Anyway, it wasn't until perhaps a year later when she was feeling really alone in her gender that I told her; she needed that support of having someone who understood. She immediately realized that it didn't have to be weird or abnormal and just moved on with her childhood.

So now it's Sunday night. I've lost all confidence in who I am because a Judge is questioning my parenting. Not because I'm a bad parent, but because I am transgender (which, no doubt in his mind means I'm a bad parent). I don't know what will happen tomorrow morning - this is way off the charts for what is supposed to have happened in our state for a minor's name and gender change.  All because I tried to live as myself.

And honesty, I'm scared. I'm afraid he won't grant her the petition, which will mean getting attorneys involved and vastly escalating what should have been a very simple, clerical process. And that raises the chance that our daughter's privacy will somehow be violated. No one knows she is trans except for her pediatrician, her endocrinologist and the superintendent of her school district. No where is it recorded except for in her hospital records. And I'm even scared that the judge will say or do something just to impart his disapproval of a trans woman raising a trans child.

Wish me luck.


  1. I can understand your frustration. You weren't on trial, this wasn't about you, this was about your daughter and the judge decided to take liberties with his interpretation of the law and his complete lack of knowledge about transgender people.
    I don't really socialize with many transgender people, yet. But I do have a trans son, so I know that once people find out that not only am I trans, but my child as well, then the judging will commence. Luckily, my son is 18 and can make up his own mind, very independent. I actually had a hard time reconciling that he was transgender at first, I too thought "what were the chances?" But after my initial doubts (he didn't know I was trans until a year after he came out) I accepted that it was indeed coincidental. And he deserved to know I was trans as well, that we are out there and he isn't alone. You have done the right things, been the best parent you can be. And you are there for your child, standing before an ignorant judge trying to help your child. You are wonderful and brave, don't let this slow you down.

  2. Thank you, Beth. I trust that you know how much it means, to know that someone else understands.

    In the end, he did sign the court order and by Noon we had everything including her SSN changed. Now she's just a girl, exactly as she wants to be.