The Haircut

Every teenaged girl I know is, in part, defined by her long, shiny, flowing, flat-ironed locks. Long hair was a prize for my fuzzy headed “blondie” who was bald for her first two plus years. She wanted long hair so badly. Finally, finally, her hair grew and grew. She saw her sister’s beautiful, thick mane and perhaps for a minute dreamed that she, too, could have the same. Unfortunately, the fine, silky strands were so wispy that all they could do was tangle mere seconds after styling.

As Olivia began the journey to become Hunter, she started trimming her hair, inch by inch until the ponytail that hung daily between her shoulder blades became a very stylish, chin-length bob. Just as I was starting to get used to the shorter hair, Hunter began a relentless campaign to go really, really short…right before 8th grade graduation.

I was stopped in my tracks.

“Don’t you want to wait until after graduation?” I asked.

I wasn’t in a place mentally or emotionally to see my daughter at middle school graduation dressed as a boy with a boy’s haircut.

The funny thing is that I had so many people come up to me and gush about Olivia’s CUTE, short, trendy hairstyle that showed off her wickedly penetrating, multi-colored eyes.

middle school graduation

Pride: The Haircut

In hindsight, I see that once there are words and labels that accompany all of the feelings, there’s an urgency for transgender individuals to take action. Hunter wanted to be at graduation in his authentic skin wrapped in a tapestry of maleness.

Let there be no mistake. I was sad; sad that my child did not look like the other budding young ladies that we’d known since kindergarten; sad that I was buying boys’ dress slacks rather than a dress and heels; sad that my daughter was slipping away.

Olivia was transitioning at a pace that felt comfortable. For that, I was happy and proud and awed. While we were really no where ready for what was to come, we were prepared to let it unfold; to let Hunter emerge; to better understand what it meant to have a transgender child.

Out of the Closet

“Out of the human mouth and into the heart” –Maya Angelou

I can’t imagine what it must be like for kids who want so badly to share their “secret” with the world – their world. How awful for them to move through the day as if their feet are pushing through fresh tar on a blistering hot summer day.

When my kids were little we read a particular book (over and over and over) in which the main character (a chipmunk, I think), tries everyday to get special words out of his mouth. Everyday he tries to tell his parents how much he loves them. He just can’t seem to find the right moment to say, “I love you.” The timing never seems quite right until one day, he feels as if he’ll burst if he doesn’t just say it. Of course, once he shares his feelings, he feels so much better and for that moment, all is right with the world.

So, imagine, a young child, an awkward adolescent, an insecure teen trying to find just the right words, just the right opening in the conversation to tell those closest to him that he has a secret.

We are fortunate. Our kids feel that they can tell us stuff. Would it be easier if Hunter’s secret was about sexual orientation rather than gender identity? YES. There is no question that coming out as gay or lesbian is a lot less complicated than a desire to be a different gender.

This is going to sound really random but here goes — I was listening to Oprah radio on Sirius the other day and Maya Angelou was on. Something she said struck me as so profound I had to capture it immediately. “Out of the human mouth and into the heart…” Think about that.