Earlier today, I overheard a man telling a small boy, “Boys don’t cry. Only girls do.” Lula heard it too and she piped up, “But Cy cries. And Daddy cries. Don’t all people cry?” Then she looked up at me for reassurance.
A few months ago, Lula declared she no longer wanted to be a girl but wished to be a boy. Knowing gender is fluid to small children, and it is common for them to make such a declaration at some point before the age of 5, I replied with an “Okay” and left it at that. Cy on the other hand was compelled to question her on her seemingly irrational decision. The idea of Lula changing her sex was first and foremost not possible in his mind. Secondly, he was upset by the idea of losing the sister he knows and loves for someone else. He was visibly shaken and told me in no uncertain terms I had to stop Lula from following through with this plan. I explained I didn’t think Lula was serious, but if at any point she did really want to be a boy, there was nothing I could do to stop her.
Then, I decided it was time to open up a discussion about gender identity and to introduce the topic of transgendered people. Having no real plan of action, I began by stating that some people feel uncomfortable in the body they were born in and they decide to go through a series of surgeries and treatments to change their bodies. Knowing Cy’s interest in science, I thought talking clinically about how one goes about changing their gender would calm him down and get him interested in the topic. I was right and he began to ask me questions about the surgeons and hormone treatments, etc. We talked about how it was pretty amazing such advanced technology exists to allow people to do something so radical. It led to discussing how prostetics and reconstructive surgeries can help people who met with tragic accidents.
When the excitement of robotic arms and runners with false legs waned, Cy reiterated that he would still be sad if Lula decided to become a boy. He told me he liked having a sister and thought she was pretty perfect the way she was. I agreed it would be sad, but Lula’s spirit wouldn’t change. She would still be the same energy/spirit that is with us now just with a different exterior. He still wasn’t completely comfortable with the idea but was willing to concede he would still love her, and that he would want her to be happy. Our talk concluded with him asking me if I knew any transgendered people. I replied, “Yes, actually, I do and they are people just like us who want love and happiness, peace and acceptance.”
One of my favorite novels is “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell. A complex, haunting, powerful story detailing the many lives of a narrator as they reincarnate through the centuries. The narrator’s gender changes with each incarnation and is identified by a tattoo on the back of their shoulder.
Laura Esquivel’s book, "The Law of Love”, tells the tale of two lovers who find each other over and over again through many lifetimes. In one chapter the male character, Rodrigo, incarnates as the woman and Azucena is the male.
In “Green Grass, Running Water” by Thomas King, four Indian elders, Changing Woman, First Woman, Old Woman and Thought Woman, are perceived as male by all the non-indian characters.
Sometime in the Spring of this year, I watched this and I sobbed and smiled and sobbed some more.
Later that Spring, I watched this and I sobbed again and applauded because these are some good parents and kind souls.
An American Studies professor and I were sitting at her small kitchen table, sipping on bowls of homemade vichyssoise. While we ate and talked, she enlightened me to the fact that until the rise of the Judeo-Christian or Western philosophies, gender was a fluid concept held by most indigenous cultures. In the sacred texts of most native cultures, there are stories of the Spiritual Beings sometimes appearing as male and other times as female.
At a recent session with my naturopath doctor/therapist, we were discussing relationships. He reminded me that in most relationships the two parties send “representatives” to interface with each other while the “real” person keeps their distance. The key to connecting with the “real” person is to remember they are a spirit, a soul, an energy perfectly created by a Divine Power...just like me. Regardless of gender or race or culture, that other being is Divine Energy...just like me. I am Them and They are Me. Perfect.