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What we tell other people

Backpacking in Algonquin
We're at the Biodome in Montreal, and The Small Person and I head to the bathroom. The Small Person refuses to come into the men's with me, insisting he is a girl. I decide it's fine for him to go into the women's, although I'm not prepared to go in with him. He goes in, and I sit down on a bench outside. Not two minutes later a woman sticks her head out to ask me if The Small Person is a girl or a boy. I respond she's a girl, and the woman goes back in, and even helps the small person wash her hands. In that bathroom, I stand up for the small person and whatever her chosen identity might be.

We're at the border, in the car, and the Homeland Security Officer asks me to lower the back seat window so he can see our small. "What's your name?" asks the dude in the uniform, and our small person answers "Julia Kerparsnip". "Julia Kerparsnip" is not the name on the small person's passport, and so, after we have cleared this all up, and we are across the border and away, we have a conversation about how there are some places that we just have to be whatever it says on our I.D. It feels like such a trans conversation, but not one I had expected to have before The Small Person was four.

We're visiting with Great-grandmother R in Baltimore. It's lunch time, and The Small is entertaining most of the residents. One person, across the table is delighted with her, and keeps complimenting us on what a "great little girl" we have. We thank her. The aid argues with her that The Small is a boy and then turns to us to support her argument. She is not pleased that we will not back her up on whether our small is a girl or a boy. Really, everyone is delighted, why does she care to disrupt the delight with this?

We emerge from a bathroom stall in a men's room in a gas station in rural South Carolina. The Small and I have been in the stall for a long time, and have been chatting. Part way through, Papa came in to see if we are okay (we were). When we emerge, I help The Small wash his hands. A total stranger claps me on the back and tells me what a great big brother I am for being so patient with my little brother and helping him out. The small clarifies that he does not have a brother. The dude claps me on the back, and says "well uncle then, you're doing a great thing." I don't correct him, and we head out to the car swiftly to avoid further conversation with him.

Names and genders, genders and names, bathrooms and borders. Apparently we are all playing. Certainly we are all learning the rules, whether we like them or not, and figuring out which ones we need to play along with, which ones we can bend, and which ones we can break.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
black_pearl_10
2nd Jan, 2014 03:17 (UTC)
Wonderful stories. Still learning how to deal with the outside world on my end.
ahavia
2nd Jan, 2014 06:12 (UTC)
Years ago, I had to go the hospital for an operation. I am a female Lesbian. Questions for forms were asked, one about my next of kin. I said Joyce was my spouce. The woman asking the questions told me that was not a man's name. I decided not to argue about Joyce Kilmore, a male poet who wrote 'Trees'. So I said that Joyce is my sister. After the surgery, I was asleep in my hopsital bed and Joyce was holding my hand. Joyce is a 6 ft tall African American. I am a 5'3" from Russian Jewish heritage. 2 nurses came in and asked her if it was true that she is my sister. Joyce said yes, but we have different fathers. One nurse looked at the other and said, 'See, I told you so'. And they left. Joyce then wispered to me, 'and we have different Mothers', to be truth telling.
She told me this when I woke up.
ishai_wallace
3rd Jan, 2014 03:05 (UTC)
I love this story - not the part where you could not be out to the hospital, but the way the two of you created a truthful story to tell them about how you are family. Thank you for sharing.
resonant
2nd Jan, 2014 14:38 (UTC)
You are a nice person.
ganimede
2nd Jan, 2014 21:59 (UTC)
Julia Kerparsnip is an awesome name.
pantryslut
3rd Jan, 2014 02:04 (UTC)
Yes.
ishai_wallace
18th Jan, 2014 17:19 (UTC)
Just wanting to add that I found this today, http://gendermom.wordpress.com/ and that I like it.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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