“Do you think he’ll, you know, change his mind?” she asks, in the kindest, most concerned way possible. Because she IS kind, and concerned. She cares about my son. My trans son. A child not related to her. A child she has no obligation to care for. And yet, she does care. And has illustrated that care in concrete ways. Yes, gifts, but also showing up, kind words – you know, the real stuff. The stuff you remember. The things that count.
And her questions, while they are difficult to hear from the ump-teenth person, are understandable to me. They are more difficult for my son to wrap his head around, I think. Partly because he is 13. But even more so, I think, because he is just who he is. He doesn’t fit into our rigid stereotypes of what a “boy” is or what a “girl” is. He likes what he likes – that’s all.
People don’t get why, if he “feels like a boy,” he sometimes tries on lipstick. Or how, if he prefers he/him pronouns, he might also enjoy a pedicure sometimes. Why, they wonder, doesn’t he want to lift weights to bulk up? Or play sports?
“Gender is a spectrum,” I say.
Frequently, they look at me in confusion, furrowed brow, head cocked, as if my answer is a riddle. I suppose it’s a bit glib, but really – what would you have me say? I don’t know! I don’t know why he likes what he does! I’m his mother, not his shrink.
I do know that I’m very feminine in a lot of ways, but I like powertools. I like to feel strong and powerful sometimes, and other times, I like to feel soft and delicate. And yet, no one asks me why I like tools. Or why I like to get my hands dirty.
And in the grand scheme of things, does it matter?