I don’t know you and I won’t know you until after Labor Day, but I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself and my son to you. I’m C.J.’s Mom and my son C.J. is gender nonconforming. I used to shy away from telling people that before they got a chance to meet my awesome child, but, over the years I’ve found that it’s better to tell some people right up front — especially his teachers. Plus, he has told me that he prefers for me to make the announcement ahead of him. So, there you have it.
Please don’t think that I’m crazy or that my son is crazy or that we are weird. It’s okay to think that we are different. We are different, we own that and hope that people will see us being different and come to realize that our version of different is not scary or bad, but good and lovable.
Anyway, as C.J. explains it, he is a boy who only likes girl stuff and sometimes likes to be treated like a girl. He will show up to school dressed in boy clothes, albeit usually pink and purple “boy clothes” that I get on the sale rack because very few boys seem to want the pink polo shirts, purple t-shirts and magenta skinny jeans that retailers take a gamble on. He likes to wear girl socks and safely tucks them inside of his shoes. They peek out. You’ll see.
Sometimes he accessorizes with beaded jewelry of his own creation or that he has chosen with the utmost care out of his Rapunzel jewelry box. I’ve informed him that I’d rather he not wear his clip on earrings to school because he might lose them and would be heartbroken. His lunch box is decorated with Monster High characters and has been his most prized possession since he got it at Target three weeks ago.
I tell you all of these details so that you know what to expect on that first day of school. And also so that you will hopefully see how much thought goes into his getting ready each morning. Every morning he asks “Are the kids going to tease me today?” He’s asked me that question every sunrise for more than year and it breaks my heart that he has to worry about getting teased and because, every morning, I don’t have an honest answer. All I can say is “I don’t know, baby. I hope not.”
My sweet son isn’t trying to make anybody uncomfortable; he’s trying to make himself comfortable, in a body and soul that don’t always feel in alignment. Imagine that feeling.
I’m sure I seem incredibly high maintenance, but please know that I’m never aiming to make your life more difficult, I’m trying to make my son’s life less difficult. We don’t want to be seen as a liability. In our eyes it’s not our family against you and the school and the district. It’s you and us against the world. We are on the same team.
Those 20+ other little five- and six-year-old team members in your class? I’m not asking you to educate them on gender or sex or the difference between the two. However, I do think that you have a responsibility to teach them about empathy, kindness and acceptance.
If you have any questions about gender nonconforming kids, please ask. I love, love, love to share what I know with others, especially those who are in my son’s life. So, talk to me, ask me questions, tell me your concerns, let’s figure this our together.
In the meantime, expect my son to draw himself as a girl, get his pronouns mixed up, have a hard time deciding which bathroom to use, always choose pink if it’s an option and become uncomfortable if you divide the class by boys and girls. He’ll do all of those things one day…and then he may not do them next. His gender fluidity is just that: fluid.
Finally, please don’t gossip about us. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me what the other moms at school think about us I could start a private school for kids like C.J. I don’t care what the other parents think about us and I don’t have time for gossip, so please, respect our privacy.
Anyway, we’re hopeful for the school year that is about to begin and can’t wait to see our son transform into a kindergartner.
All our best, always,
C.J.’s Mom (and C.J. and C.J.’s Dad)