Suburban Butch Dad Report: Trans acceptance in fifth grade

I’ve been having some proud papa moments with my Elder Spawn lately.  She and I have had lots of conversations about what it means to be transgender, genderqueer and gay/lesbian/bi/queer.  As she’s gotten older and more savvy, these conversations have gotten more interesting (for me) and her questions more discerning.

She recently shared something a friend of hers had told her.  Now, the friend told her and her other friends in confidence, but she felt comfortable talking to me, especially because of the subject matter.  The friend in question is a boy her age we’ll call Perry.  Perry has had a crush on my daughter off and on for a couple of years.  In between, he’s had crushes on some of the other girls in her friendship group.  Perry likes to hang out with these girls at lunch and at school events.  Now it seems I might have to reframe the way I think of Perry and these crushes.  Perry has come out to my daughter and a couple of other friends as feeling ‘like a girl inside’.   Thank goodness they were accepting and supportive.  Since then, Perry has singled out my daughter as a confidant, occasionally making comments to her or opening up about how it feels to not be the boy they appear to be.

My daughter has been responding to this exactly the way I would hope.  She’s supportive, listens with an open mind and heart, assures Perry that she’s going to remain a friend.  I’ve been careful not to express too many labels or judgments in my conversations with Elder Spawn, I want Perry to have as much room to explore and maneuver as they can, and if labels are assigned too early, to someone too young, that can have a limiting effect.  Perry may be transgender, or Perry may be a nontraditional male, but either way Perry is earning my respect for opening up to friends about their gender nonconformity at the age of 11.

It’s nice to see that my daughter has learned something from me and from our conversations.  I’ll try to keep that pride in mind the next time she whines about having to put away the dishes.

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