6 conversations with my children to prepare them for my transition

Over the last few months, I’ve been slowly having conversations with my daughters Rosie (5) and Dawn (3) about gender variance and the fluidity of gender. Young children are very binary about things. Boys have short hair. Girls have long hair. Long haired people are girls. Pink is a girls colour and so on.

1. The hair

Soon after I started growing my hair, my youngest, Dawn, said “you need to get your hair cut”. I replied “No, my love. I’m growing it long. Maybe I’ll never get it cut short again”. She eyed me for a second or two and said “you still be a boy” then walked off.

Now on the face of it, this might appear hurtful. I can never become what I want in her eyes. But she was actually saying “I know that being a boy or a girl is not about long hair or short hair”.

2. The clothes

When I started wearing womens’ pyjamas – they both asked why I was wearing them. I responded with “I liked them so I bought them. Do you like them”. My oldest, Rosie, replied that she liked the stars and then asked if she could have the television on. They’ve asked me about other items of clothing and the conversation has always been similar.

3. The question

A few weeks later I was sat having a cuddle with Dawn and Rosie walked in & casually began conversation: “Daddy – do you like being a boy?”. I replied “No, my love. I’ve always hated being a boy. When I was your age I wanted to be a girl, but I couldn’t. It’s made me very sad”. She immediately responded with “I don’t want you to be sad Daddy. I love you.” She asked a few more questions like “why?” and I said I didn’t know, but it’s what’s inside me. Again, as with all interactions with little people, her mind moved on.

4. The book

A friend of mine found a book for showing children about gender variance. It’s called Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. It’s about a boy that likes to wear a dress and he gets bullied and excluded, but it’s got a happy ending as eventually everyone accepts him.

I read it to my children at bedtime a few weeks ago. Dawn, the youngest, initially found it challenging, because Boys don’t wear dresses. As the book progresses she got sad about the way he was treated and seemed to get mildly angry on his behalf.

There were lots of questions through the book and it took us a while to progress the story. We talked about the whys and we got onto their cousin who, from the age of three, got very into dresses & princesses and nail polish. At the end they both immediately asked for a second reading.

5. The mother

A while later I was talking with their mother & she related a conversation that she’d just had. She had just read the book with Dawn. After they finished she asked:

“Has Daddy told you he doesn’t like being a boy?”

“Yeah… Maybe he wants to be a girl like us?”

“Would that be OK?

“Yeah”. Then she began rolling around on the bed.

6. The connection

I’m still thinking about this amazing, intimate conversation that I had with my eldest daughter just before I left to head home last time. I was still angry with her mother over outing me to their school, and was sorting my out bag in the car. Rosie came over to talk to me and sat on my knee in the driver’s seat.

She was just about to go up to see Grandad (my father) and will see her cousins during the visit. One of them is the boy mentioned that above shows some early signs of gender variance. He so is lucky to have parents that support him.

I suggested she take the Morris Micklewhite book to read with her cousin.
She asked “Would he like it?”
I replied: “I think so. He likes wearing dresses or he did when I last saw him”. “Why Daddy?” she asked.
“I don’t know – maybe he just likes dresses… Like Morris…. Or maybe he feels like a girl inside. Some people are born that way”
She shot back with the excitement of someone that’s just made a connection: “That’s what you are Daddy”

Children are amazing.

I think they’re ready to know – I’ve spent months preparing them and it’s paid off. I’m going to take some time this week to have a think about what I need to say.

I am confident that they will both absorb it just fine – at this age even the strangest things can become reality.

Amy x

  • Christine

    Hi Amy,

    My name is Christine Baldacchino and I wrote Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. I wanted to say thank you for letting Morris be a part of your journey and that of your children. It really is such an honour.

    I’ve been reading your blog entries almost all night (I wish I would have found your blog sooner), and was moved to tears more than once (tears of both the “sorrow” and the “joy” variety). The post in which you talked about your father telling you about his colleague broke my heart, then had me cheering on your bravery for speaking up against his bigotry despite your still being in the closet. All of your posts have had a similar effect on me.

    I’m so happy to have found you! Thank you for opening up your brave, wonderful new world for people (like this weird cis person, for instance) to learn about and love.

    Christine xo

    • Amy

      Thank you Christine,

      I feel truly honoured to have such a wonderful note from someone that provided me with such an instrumental tool at just the right time. It didn’t explain “me” to them, but it destroyed the notion of hard gender rules, which was the key to unlocking their understanding.

      Also the amazing part of your story was how it transformed the initial outrage of my youngest at boy wearing a dress into outrage on his behalf at the way he was being treated.

      Thank you again for reaching out.

      Amy x

  • Andrew

    Children are incredible, having been through a big change with my own father when I was 15 I can tell you they’ll adapt and adjust and fully accept and love you. You’ve always been a fantastic parent and that’s not going to change. 🙂

    • Amy

      Hey Andrew,

      Thanks for the nice words… I think we both share mutual joy in parenting. Stay in touch.