The boy, a tow-headed little guy of about six, had been staring at the person sitting next to me for some time. I smiled encouragingly at him, and he inched closer to us. Unable to hold back his curiosity any longer, he stood in front of my partner and blurted out, “Why are you wearing girl’s clothes? That shirt has flowers on it!”
My companion and I exchange glances and small grins. “Here we go again,” I think. My companion says, “Well, I like flowers. Don’t you like flowers?”
Small pause from Master Short Stuff, and then a protest. “But flowers are for GIRLS! You’re a boy! And last time at church you were wearing other girl clothes. You need to get some boy clothes, maybe.”
Oh, how hard it is not to dissolve into giggles at this solemn advice. It’s nearly impossible, in fact, but we soldier on so as not to embarrass Master Short Stuff. Also, we are conscious of the presence of Short Stuff’s mother, who by now is standing with her hand on her son’s shoulder. She looks at me, I smile questioningly at her, and she gives a tiny nod.
Melody sees her nod, and proceeds to recite what has become the background chorus of our daily lives. “I’m wearing girl clothes because I am a girl. I know I don’t look like a girl yet, but I’m working on changing my outside so I look like what I really am inside.”
Short Stuff examines Melody intently, head to toe, taking inventory, measuring her words and her appearance against everything he has learned about boys and girls in his six short years on the planet.
“Nuh-uh,” he concludes, with all the confidence of a child who knows that dragons exist. “You’re a boy! You’ve got a beard that you shave off just like my dad, and no girls have beards. Besides.” He nudges a finger in my direction. “You have a wife. Wifes are girls and only boys marry girls.”
Thankfully, at this point, his mother chimes in. “Remember Ann from summer camp, and how she has two moms? Well Ann’s mommies are married to each other, and they’re both girls. Girls can get married to other girls if they want to. Do you remember what the word for two mommies is?”
Thoughtful nod from her son. “Lizibins,” he says proudly.
Really, there are some times I think I ought to get a medal in Not Laughing Out Loud At Things Children Say.
His mother is not quite so amused. “Lesbians,” she corrects gently. She glances at us and makes a “so sorry” face. (We’re in Canada, after all. One must apologise at every and any opportunity.)
Short Stuff looks back at us. “So you’re lez-bee-uns? Two girls who are married together? Then why do you (pokes a finger at Melody) have a beard if you’re a girl?”
“Because there was a mistake in my body when I was born: I got the brain of a girl, and the feelings of a girl, but some boy parts on the outside. I’m changing things so I can be a girl on the outside, too, but it takes a long time. I know it’s confusing, but in a couple of months, I won’t have the beard anymore and I’ll start looking more like who I really am.”
A young girl, Short Stuff’s sister, has crept up and is standing on the other side of her mother, a fistful of Mom’s skirt in her hand. “Like the frog prince!” she exclaims, seeming very pleased with herself for figuring this out. “Except instead of a prince, you’re a princess. And maybe she–a small pink-painted fingernail points in my direction–kissed you and now you are gonna change into a fairy princess.”
Best description I’ve ever heard of what it is to be the wife of a transwoman, a girl born with boy parts who is struggling to grow into herself. Of course, my kisses don’t make her into who she is–but I’m sure they help somehow.