National Geographic, Angels, and Me

 In the 1950s no one was talking about gender variance. I'm the toddler sitting on my mother's lap, reaching for my sister's doll.

In the 1950s no one was talking about gender variance. I'm the toddler sitting on my mother's lap, reaching for my sister's doll.

Our friends think we’re crazy and our family
doesn’t want us to bring him over
dressed as a girl.

The Unknown. Black Holes and the Beginning of the Universe. Wow! Lets build a billion dollar space ship and go check it out! As a child I always looked forward to getting the new National Geographic. Scary animals, different people, cultures from all over the world, ancient archaeological sites and the list goes on!

When I first saw the cover of this January's National Geographic with nine year old Avery Jackson sitting there looking as comfortable as one could be, I got really quiet. The universe just expanded. I thought about her courage, and her parent’s courage.

I thought about Maisie and the courage it has taken her to accept me and in turn, herself. And for all of us who stop long enough to look at ourselves and make the changes we want to. Makes travel in a spaceship look like child’s play.

Then I remembered a chance meeting that took place shortly after I transitioned, while I was walking through our neighborhood park, feeling quite free, and happy, in my new summer dress.

I saw a young girl, seven or eight years old, playing on a grassy slope having a great time rolling down a grassy hill. Her obvious joy and laughter were infectious and I started smiling. How could I help it !! Her parents were watching her and they weren’t smiling. As I approached them we shared a glance and I said, “She looks like she’s having fun!” Maybe it was my voice but they took another look at me and then said, “Yes, it’s the first time we’ve let her wear a dress outside.”

I looked at the child again then looked at them. They said, “Even though she was born a boy she’s always seemed like a girl. We are at our wits end. This seems so ridiculous and we can’t find anyone who knows anything about this. Our counselor has said its just phase, but it doesn’t seem like it. Our friends think we’re crazy to allow this and our family doesn’t want us to bring him over dressed as a girl. This all seems so impossible. But look at her, she is so happy.”

I felt their anguish and confusion. Tears started running down my cheeks. Flooded with empathy and compassion I said “Thank you, from my heart, thank you. I spent fifty years of my life suppressing the feelings that you are allowing her to express. What you are doing is saving her from a lifetime of failed relationships and an internal nightmare that no one should have to live with.”

Then all of us had tears streaming. When I could finally talk what came out was this, “Thank you so much for your courage. You are standing up for her. I know what it means to not know what this is about and sometimes it’s so hard. So from me to you, thank you. I think you are angels.” 

We stood for a moment, wiping away tears of mutual appreciation. I let them know that there is a group in town just for the children and parents of Trans kids. The look of renewed hope on their faces was beautiful. I walked on a ways and I started crying again. Miracles do happen. Thank you God, I love meeting your angels. All of you.