I promise, we haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. Our family is still here, still living and breathing, still doing our thing with forward motion. It’s just, there have been a few changes, a few differences. One difference is that Charlie expressed to us an interest in going by the pronoun “they.” Charlie was recently asked if he felt more female or male. His response was, “I feel more like a person.” Since then, he clarified with me that he feels neither male nor female.
You’ll likely notice I’m still using “he/him” more often than not. Well, that has been another change. After living a full week as “they,” Charlie decided, “I want to go by ‘they’ at home, and ‘he/him’ at school, because that’s just easier.” To which, we said, “ok,” and began the difficult journey of speaking slowly and carefully to match Charlie’s desired pronoun.
Just yesterday, after a week’s worth of having worn his new Justice (‘for girls only’) shirts to school along with some new jewelry, and thus having been ogled over, stared at, asked out loud in front of a large crowd “are you a boy or a girl?” while he was on safety patrol duty, and other similar questions, Charlie is exhausted. We’ve told Charlie he can wear whatever he wants. All last week, he chose the Justice clothing. This week, he’s back to Minecraft shirts. It’s his choice, and it’s all good.
Although we’ve been telling Charlie all along, “wear what makes you happy, wear what makes you comfortable,” I have to admit it hurt my heart to see his newfound joy in wearing his pretty new things turning to exhaustion after a week of having to continuously explain and justify himself to others. I imagine it is exhausting.
He also said he’s not so sure about the “they” pronoun for right now, and we told him that’s all fine, too. It’s totally up to him, and there is no pressure to even have to decide at all. So that’s why I’m using “he/him” with such frequency.
So there are twists and turns to this journey. For all of us, but mostly Charlie. But one thing remains: Charlie still is firm in his belief that he is gender non-conforming, and that he still really, really loves stereotypical ‘girls’ clothing and stuff vs. ‘boys’ clothing and stuff. But he is tired from the backlash of people at school who don’t understand. And advocating for himself has never been his strong skill, even as brave as he is.
The other difference was that a letter I wrote to Justice, thanking them for the excellent customer service and for providing my gender non-conforming son a safe place of acceptance while he tried on clothing that he liked, went viral. From that, we’ve been inundated (in a good way) with more interview requests than we can possibly manage.
But more importantly, we’ve received thousands of messages of love and support from people all over the world – South Africa, Germany, Egypt, Brazil, England, Ireland, Canada, Australia, USA, and on, and on… I am overwhelmed with the amount of people who are private messaging me every single day – more than I can keep up with – over how they also have a gender non-conforming child and have failed to find the proper (let alone, any) resources to help them on their journeys. Or people who are adult gender non-conforming or transgender but did not have the family support like our child does. I’m slowly making my way responding to the hundreds of messages on just that topic alone.
There are still more messages to sort through from people who are offering us things – one Eye company was so touched by our story that they want to let Charlie choose 3 brand new pairs of high-end frames/lenses in his prescription and frame size to match his sparkly new outfits, if and whenever he wants to wear them. Another person wants to give Charlie a hair makeover since he’s trying to grow it out long and it will need special care. It’s amazing and overwhelming all at once. And there are still many, many messages I haven’t even had a chance to read yet.
Added to the mix, my oldest son just started his first ever job. That in and of itself is overwhelming as he manages staying on top of both honors and AP school work and work work, especially when the company he works for offers nearly 3 weeks of paid training on providing excellent customer service. And also, my daughter has her first serious boyfriend. And boy, he’s a cutie. So there’s the overwhelming drama that comes from jealous high school girls and friend drama as she adapts to both life as a high school student, and life as a high school student dating a sophomore guy who plays varsity football – while still managing to keep up good grades. Oh – and my husband is still in training for his brand-new job which keeps him busy until 7 or 8pm every night. The kids have really stepped up their game in dinner cooking skills.
To top it all off, tonight is opening night of a play that I’m in. It’s called Southern Baptist Sissies. This is an extremely relevant piece of work that needs to be seen and heard here and now. So, with that, I’m off to opening night shortly. It’s a short run (4 performances only), but once that’s over my life will regain some sort of semblance to normalcy, and I can update and write some more. Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.