The Journey of Gender Identity
Since 1999, I have been the mother of daughters. Well, in 1999, I was the mother of a daughter. The second one came along in 2002.
When I divorced in 2007, it was just us girls in the house. Even our dogs and cats were all girls, except for Sparky, who retreated to his man cave behind the couch when he needed to get away from all the estrogen.
Then in 2016, my older child began identifying as genderqueer, or nonbinary. They adopted “they/them/their” pronouns and shortened their first name to a more androgynous nickname to reflect their identity as neither male nor female. Although they flirted with gender fluidity – some days presenting more female, some days more male – they settled on nonbinary status, for a time. In the last year, though, they began leaning more toward a male identity. Now, they are considering transitioning to male.
I am used to being the mother of girls, and I admit that I had a “but, boys are icky” moment.
But I realized that my child will always be a feminist, whether male, female, or nonbinary. They will always be a champion of women’s rights and LGBTQ rights. They will always be an activist for those who are disadvantaged. They will always be the same spirited, creative, curious, wonderful human being they have always been.
Fully realizing their gender identity, and the separate-but-related issue of their sexual orientation, has been a journey.
It is a journey that has felt slow to them, but often feels fast to me. Sometimes I get dizzy and confused by the twists and turns of the journey. Sometimes they don’t tell me the path until after they have thoroughly explored it, and I have to race to catch up to where they are. I don’t mean to be slow, but I’m not as nimble and young as they are.
I have learned so much while journeying with my child. As a cisgendered (for the unfamiliar, that means identifying with the gender assigned at birth) woman, I never thought much about gender identity. As a bisexual woman, I never thought much about sexual orientation beyond LGBTQ. Through my child, I have learned that gender and orientation are so much more nuanced.
Most importantly, I have realized that everybody’s journey is different. Some trans kids feel at a young age that they’re trapped in the wrong gender. Some take longer to pinpoint what doesn’t feel quite right to them.
It has not always been easy, but it has been a privilege being on this journey with my child.
I love them for who they are, whoever they are. No matter their name, no matter what they look like, no matter their identity, they will always be my child.
Editor’s Note: Happy Pride Month, San Diego! Join Lawyers Club for two events: She Fest on July 7, and the San Diego Pride Parade on July 14: She Fest: The Time is Now: Saturday, July 7, 2018, 11-6, North Park Community Park, 4044 Idaho St., 92104
Join the Lawyers Club’s marching contingent at the San Diego Pride Parade on Saturday July 14, 2018 – for details, contact Allison Troini (Allison@lawyersclubsandiego.com).
Jodi Cleesattle is a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice, a past Lawyers Club board member, the current Lawyers Club press liaison, and she wrote this as a member of Lawyers Club’s LGBTQ Committee.