I like to preach equity. Believe in access. Believe in leading my child in a place where difference isn’t so different after all.
I tell folks a lot about my mom, mostly because I’m apple-eyed and she’s my Braeburn, but in part because I learned about my world through her perceptions, her experiences. Perhaps, more one than the other.
Case in point: Gender Identity.
I grew up (at least half time) in Boston’s South End in the 80-90s. Folks who know the area now, know it’s gorg, half gay, a quarter Chinese and very Puerto Rican. I grew up within earshot of the parties at the Villa, close enough to catch pizza at BHOP, near enough to see my father on the stoop at the Huntington Y. It would have been idyllic if we weren’t broke and bartering for time with Mummi’s diagnosis.
I had a sometime babysitter. She was trans, male to female; long legged and had gorgeous hair. I realize now she was in an abusive partnership, could hear Claudio beating the joy (among other things) out of her tiny frame. She was very sweet, albeit very unsafely vulnerable. I never had to ask my mom what my sitter was. I knew. And she was wonderful. Period.
When Mummi would talk about gender ID she had one simple thing she’d say (still says it): We’re all gay, Love. All. She thought of love and who you love as a continuum versus a binary: as in I can love him and her and him and her, or I can love them and them and them (too). I’d have to say I agree. I shruggingly agreeingly agree.
Fast forward to my daughter. A burst of articulateness and non-slick ponies. A small adult some days, others, my baby, my babiest baby. We went to the library and picked out some special books, one about an Armadillo who is different, who is defiantly not a bunny and isn’t totally pink in a homogenously pink and bunnied environment. “I think I would want an armadino, Mummah. We can buy it” she suggests, strongly.
We pick up another book too, about a princess boy. It’s very sweet, if curiously illustrated. The characters have featureless brown faces. The main character is a boy seemingly between gender lines, or not: perhaps not. He wears dresses, loves ballet, thinks himself pretty. He cries when he is taunted. His Mummah cries too. I want to cry a little when I read it to her.
My child, dear child, loves the story. We made a mural of said boy-princess that hangs near our front door. Daddy cheered us both on as we worked. He's a steward of inclusion too. Zora shared her own thoughts:
“I think it's ok if him wears princess outfits. I would not laugh at him.”
When I giggle out of pride and perhaps something else, she scolds me strongly “Don’t laugh Mummah. Princess boys are NOT funny!” I stop. Hide the joy in my eyes at her open mind.
She finishes: “I would have a princess boy for my friend… if him had a face.”
Baby-girl is all about equity, all about friends with fly outfits, could give two hard boiled eggs about if "him a him, him a her" but she ain’t having that anonymous, no face, shit.
That’s my girl.