All writing in italics is Mindy’s, the other stuff is mine.
Over the next few months we had a change in pronoun and name. People kept telling Michael and I what supportive parents we were and how brave she was. These comments were sometimes followed by the stories that I came to dread, “When my son/daughter was little they wanted to grow up and be a unicorn/cat/fairy princess but it was just a phase”. This comment was always kindly meant and followed by a supportive smile but it came to mean a guaranteed rise in blood pressure. Pretty please don’t ever say a version of this to someone with a gender nonconforming or transgender child. If they’re anything like we were those parents are already exhausted with self-doubt and worry, the time your child wore a tail pinned to their pants for a week is not the same thing. It really isn’t.
When I wanted to be a she and change my name Mum and Dad found it a bit difficult to understand. But they were supportive and encouraging about my decision. When my parents said the wrong pronoun I laughed and said, “Please use she, but it’s OK if you get it wrong because people make mistakes”. They don’t make that mistake anymore.
During this time of rapid change for us and increasing confidence for Mindy I did what most librarians and anxious parents do. I researched. I read every relevant book in the library (there were two) and then Google became my best friend and worst enemy. I became familiar with a host of new terms and discovered there are a type of Dr called Endocrinologists. Who knew?
Some of the articles and websites were very reassuring but more were terrifying. I read about grief and suffering. I read statistics that made me want to hide under my pillow. If you read these things that make you feel scared, don’t listen to them. Just let your kid be who they want to be. It’ll be OK. What I desperately wanted to find was a whole heap of families who were like ours and absolutely fine. These were thin on the ground. Meanwhile the media had pretty much mined out the documentary potential of autism and seemed to have moved onto transkids. This has been a very mixed blessing. Greater awareness is fantastic but with it came, “Oh I saw that on the TV, it’s very trendy at the moment isn’t it?” I’m still not sure how I’m meant to respond to that.
Our concern turned itself into talking and poor Mindy took the brunt of it.
“Are you happy?”
“Are you OK?”
“You don’t have to be a girl to wear a dress.”
Eventually our ever patient daughter had enough.
“I just want you to stop asking me about it.”
I still tell her that!
In between Google and chats with the school to update them everything was normal. Mindy was happy. We continued on as a family just as before. We still played board games, got weekend lollies once a week and nagged about spelling homework. When we told our eldest Mindy was now a girl he gave her a hug and told her,
“That’s great, I always wanted a sister.”