Monday, February 25, 2013

Why is This Trans Kid in Afghanistan Jubilant?

Sixteen-year-old Enamullah has become the youngest person in Afghanistan to have a gender reassignment surgery. According to the Lahore Times, Enamullah was assigned female at birth, lived in the Paloso naw village of Kunar province, and began to talk to his parents about being a boy about two years ago.
"I understood that I have not seen any marks that I am a girl, so I shared it with my uncle’s wife, and she told to my parents," Enamullah told Lahore Timesreporter Hamayoun Mahzon. After getting referred from a local physician to Dr. Haider, the chief of Kunar Provincial Hospital, Mahzon writes that Haider told Enamullah "that you are 70% boy, and we will have a small operation, and you will become ok."
 The 16-year-old trans boy told reporters he's incredibly happy after the operation, as are his parents, in large part because he is the only boy in the family. He has 10 sisters. Even Enamullah's former fiance helped him celebrate his transition, though he's now planning to marry someone else.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Simple Valentine's Day Dance

Nicole was 10 years old, openly attending school as a transgender girl, and Valentine's Day was right around the corner. I was working late on a farm safety problem when Dave, the custodian, poked his head into my office to say "hi." Dave often shares a few words of old Mainer wisdom or a good joke to cheer me up. He was well aware of the bullying and harassment that my daughter was facing at school. This time he told me about his weekend plans with his granddaughter. They were going to attend a Valentine's Day dance.

He proudly described the small-town Mainer tradition that requires fathers or grandfathers to escort their granddaughters to the local community center or firehouse dance. He told me that he was going to borrow a friend's Cadillac, buy his granddaughter flowers and a corsage and take her to dinner before the dance. He showed me her picture, and when we'd finished talking, I told him what a beautiful granddaughter he had. He smiled and said, "Thank you, Wayne," and went back to work.

After he left, it hit me. It was another one of those moments that require me to expand my comfort zone. I began to wonder if Orono had a Valentine's Day father-daughter dance. Dancing is my last big fear, but I knew that if I was asked, I had to go. I could not let Nicole think I was afraid to do so.
That night I did not conquer my fear of dancing. Maybe I put a dent in it, but I have no interest in dancing again anytime soon or trying to conquer this fear head-on. However, I do hope that someday I will dance at Nicole's wedding and share another special moment with her. When that happens, as I imagine everyone watching us, I will no longer be concerned that they might be judging me or wondering how I will react to the evening's events. I know that everyone will be smiling and thinking how beautiful Nicole is and what a special moment it is for a father and his daughter.
As a father of a transgender child, I worry a great deal about the present and the future. I often overanalyze simple daily events, but sometimes the simple things are not that simple. Planning ahead and obtaining advice from those who have already been down this road are very helpful. The challenge for me is the fact that there are few dads of transgender daughters to talk with me about how to handle things like small-town dances, or signing up for softball, or dating. Sometimes I wish that I could just have a cold beer with a few other dads from my world, and between talking about sports, they could share how they handled their first father-daughter dance and provide some advice on how to proceed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Answers From the Wife of a Transgender Woman

My spouse, Jean, transitioned about 11 years ago. We've been together for 16 years and will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary this spring. This has been a long journey for both of us.

We've had a very strong bond since the first time we laid eyes on each other. We're two halves that make a whole. This is not a bond that comes around very often. We literally complete each other.

To answer Sue's question about "maleness" is difficult. I mourned losing Gene when he first started talking about transition. I was scared out of my mind, as well. What is going to happen with us? Can I be strong enough to help him through this? Can I even get through this? These were just a few of the questions that went through my mind when he first told me he needed to pursue transition.

I didn't want to lose Gene, but he was getting too difficult to live with. He'd sink into sullen moodiness and strike out at me verbally, all because he was afraid of losing me. I couldn't stay in the dark regarding what was causing him such distress. I turned inward and started wondering what more I could do to help, to keep him from going into the depression that was crippling him. It didn't matter what I did, though; nothing helped until he transitioned.

When we first met, he told me that he suffered from high levels of testosterone. I think that was his first hint to me that there was something more going on. The problem, one Jean had dealt with for her entire life, was that she knew she was trapped in a male body. She was scared to death to tell me much of anything. We knew we belonged together, but she didn't know how I would react to her secret gender identity.