I want to tell you a story.
Once upon a time there was a little boy full of curiosity and questions, like all little boys. He loved roly-poly bugs and grasshoppers and skateboards and GI Joes.
He wanted Ninja Turtle underwear more than anything.
But there was a terrible misunderstanding.
The grownups made him wear pink underwear. And dresses. They made him grow his hair long. All the adults told the little boy that he wasn’t a boy, he was a GIRL.
They looked at his outsides and decided who he was.
But deep down, he knew they were wrong.
That boy is my beloved @epicdanger. Though born in a female body, Nick has always felt like a boy, as long as he can remember. He tried hard to be a girl, then a woman. Four kids, even.
This is called being transgender: feeling that you were born into the wrong body.
I’m so very proud to say that my dear beloved has decided to be more true to his insides than what people see on the outside. Nick has decided to transition from living as a female to living as a male. He will undergo both physical and emotional changes, but in some ways the changes will be biggest for the people around him as they get used to him presenting as a man instead of a woman.
The process Nick is embarking on is called all sorts of things but most people we know just simply call it “transitioning.”
I am so full of love and pride that it’s coming out of my eyes, you guys.
Thank you for all your congratulations on our marriage, and for the many kind words so many of you have sent my way about my new family. Next time you see us in person, I will refer to Nick exclusively as “he,” “my husband,” etc, and the kids will probably call him some combination of
Papa, Mom, and Father– the latter in a Darth Vader voice.
I’d always felt sympathetic to people who were trans. I myself have certainly felt many times that I was a stranger in a strange land, different from those around me in some way I couldn’t put my finger on. I felt that this pale skin and weak body was not my true form, that a mistake had been made. (In my own mind, I am about 6 feet tall, with dark skin and long black hair. I don’t understand this short curly pasty self; she feels like a bit of a joke the universe played on me.)
So I could understand, intellectually, how someone might feel that they had been mistakenly gendered; that their outsides didn’t match their insides. I could sympathize with problems of bathrooms, name changes, awkwardness. I thought I “got” it.
And yet loving so fiercely someone who is trans, and living with him as he has walked through the decision to change his identity, has given me the chance to see what it’s like from (almost) the inside.
And my loves, I will tell you that from this close up, all politics drop away. There is no one, I truly believe, if they loved someone this close, who could ever feel anything but utter admiration and fierce protectiveness toward these beautiful people among us who help us span the great divide between male and female.
I’ll be honest, in the beginning, part of me wished that he could hang out in that middle zone, an androgynous human who was neither one nor the other. It would have made our public and legal lives easier. But limbo is not a good place for Nick, and he kept telling the truth and persevering (like an EFBA) until it was abundantly clear to both of us that he could only ever be comfortable in his own skin as Nick, Nicholas, my beloved and dear husband. And so here we are.
It’s been an intense couple of weeks. Showing your most tender insides to the world is always a tricky proposition, and this topic is loaded for many reasons. But the great gift of showing your true self to the world is that you see very clearly who your true kindred spirits are. Some fall away; others burn brightly with their love and support; and you know that the ones who are left are loyal and true, your tribe, your people.
Remember that according to my personal definition, the only two requirements for being an EFBA (an epic fucking badass) is that you tell the truth and you don’t quit.
That’s what Nick and I are trying to do, both of us in our own way, just like you are, I bet— groping our way toward home, trying to come home in that most basic primal place, the body, the self.
Welcome home, my beloved husband.
And welcome home to you too, dear reader. May you always be at home right where you are, in your own precious self.
P.S. Here are five things that some people might not know regarding how to talk to someone who’s trans. As a PSA, I share these with you, because none of us know what we don’t know until we know it.
1. It is perfectly polite to ask someone what pronouns they prefer.
2. It is never acceptable to ask someone about their private parts. This is true for everyone, though, not just trans people. Just like it’s not ok to touch a pregnant woman’s belly without her consent, politeness is still politeness no matter what someone is doing with their identity.
3. Anything that happens in a doctor’s office is also something that is no one else’s business. How would you feel if you were asked loudly in public about your prostate meds or order your diflucan or viagra prescription? Manners.
4. By the time someone is ready to tell the world that they are transitioning, it is safe to assume that they have already pondered, researched, and agonized about their decision. They have certainly talked to a psychologist and a medical doctor at a bare minimum, and probably sought all sorts of wise counsel over a course of months or years. They have, without a doubt, considered deeply and with great angst the way it will influence the lives of those they love. Therefore to ask if they’re sure, or if they’ve thought about how it might affect their children, is unhelpful and insulting. (Unless of course they have a history of cooking meth or making other rash and impulsive decisions that endanger their loved ones.) Otherwise, assume the best.
5. The bathroom is the most terrifying place in the world for someone who is trans. This is a place where you can be an advocate, a champion, where you have the chance to be human kindness in action. If someone looks out of place in a bathroom, you might smile kindly at them. You can assume that only the most dire of physical needs and the most unfortunate of circumstances would force someone to go pee in a place where they will likely encounter cold looks, rude words, and worse. You can make a safe place with your energy and your presence. Out in the larger world, you can champion gender-neutral bathrooms everywhere, ones equipped with handicap access and changing tables while we’re at it. You might step up and educate the poor security guard who has gotten called to haul some poor mortified soul out of the place where they do their most private business. And you can accompany your trans or androgynous friend to the bathroom without being asked so that you can be their backup and their safety should that be necessary.