So, other than navel gazing, where do things stand around here?
Mostly where they stand is that I’m putting in mountains of work on a really important grant at work, and that is taking by far the bulk of my personal and intellectual resources. l have 2 1/2 weeks and a ton of work to go. This is work I have been laying groundwork to do for a couple years, and to finally be writing it up feels great. Great and exhausting.
But I’d like to pause to breathe for a second and let you know where things stand in terms of transition and gender “stuff” around here:
1) I’m using my preferred name/pronouns in much of our social life, and am trying to clue more people in as I realize they are out of the loop. We know a lot of people, so sometimes this seems like a never-ending task.
2) We sat down to talk with our son’s daycare teachers, an older couple that have been running an amazing daycare for something like 25 years. We really look up to them and respect them, and I was worried a snap response of awkwardness, concern, confusion or worry about the kids would be hard to recover from in our relationship with them. My fears were misplaced. When we sat down and I said, “OK. Here’s the deal. I’m trans.” Their immediate response was “Oh good. We were pretty sure that was going to be what you needed to talk about and we just want to say right at the outset you’ll have nothing but support from us. This is great. We’ve totally thought about and can totally handle it with the kids. No problem.” (It turns out they have a trans nephew so they are all trained up.) We went on to talk about how we’ve been talking to our kids, give them the update on how our son refers to me, that we’d like them to roll with whatever he says, but it would be great if they would refer to me as “Aba” when talking to him. They immediately switched name/pronouns. They were genuinely respectful of and impressed with how we’ve been talking to our kids, how they are processing the info, what we think will work for talking to the daycare kids when/if the topic comes up.
3) As part of thinking this through with them, we decided to write a letter to the other families in our daycare (about 10 of them), as the topic may come up at home (or it may not) and we are socially connected with several families anyway. We sent out a note, got several genuinely thoughtful responses, and at the annual daycare potluck everyone switched name/pronouns.
4) After much mulling things over, we decided to talk to the administrators at our daughter’s school before classes started. We knew we needed to at least talk to the teacher to say roughly, “Here’s what’s up at home, roll with however Leigh refers to me, but please refer to me by new name and change pronouns, and please keep an eye on how she’s faring with the other kids.” We were torn about whether to go to the principal as well, but after talking to a friend whose partner is a school principal in our district, and to a state-level person who spearheads GLBT inclusion in the public schools (who was awesome, if you live in MA and are having issues with a public school, contact me at the e-mail on the about page and I will put you in touch), we decided best would be to go to the principal as well. We sat down a few days before school started with the principal, Leigh’s new teacher and the school psychologist. They were very professional and respectful. Immediately said to just fill out paperwork in my new name, no problem (it was their suggestion, I had been wondering what to do since I haven’t done a legal name change yet, and won’t until I’m all the way out at work), and seemed to be reassured by our confidence. Gail & I did really well in that meeting, and came away with a lot of confidence in our kid’s school. Leigh is a kid who really can hold her own, but it’s still nice to know that there are a few grown-ups in the school watching out for her.
5) Coming out at work is tabled until after this grant is in and my funding is nailed down for next year, probably a couple months from now, though I have told one friend, who has been great. He’s checked in a couple times. I told him my new name and his response was “That’s awesome. Congratulations! That definitely seems like a congratulations moment right?” he also said, “You know our advisors are going to be totally fine and supportive with this right?” I feel less confident on that front, given the current tenuousness of my position, but it’s nice to know I have a friend with that confidence.
6) That’s the seemingly endless social stuff, but physical stuff is moving (slowly) forward as well. I’ve got a doctors appointment after this grant goes in to discuss hormones. I have some health questions about testosterone specific to my situation, and need some labs and medical consult before I say for sure I’m moving forward, but chances are that I will start on a low dose in a few months time.