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7 unexpected things I learned from my transgender daughter

Marlo Mack

1) Gender matters, but I have no idea what it is

If a girl can wear anything she likes, and play sports and climb trees, and be a doctor or an astronaut or a senator … and if she can even have a “boy’s body,” what the heck is a girl? I honestly don’t know. But I do know this: It matters to me that I’m a girl. It matters to my daughter. And I bet your gender matters to you too.

2) Fear is inevitable, and fear is irrelevant

When your young son tells you he’s your daughter, you’ll imagine for her a lifetime of pain and tragedy, and you’ll be terrified, and you probably should be. But you will push blindly forward anyway, wielding love against the impossible, because that’s what your child needs you to do. So you do.

3) Very young children already know very important things about themselves

Listen closely and they'll tell you. (And this goes for a 1,000 beautiful and vital things that have nothing to do with being transgender.)

4) Being different is hard

It’s easy to tell your child, “Be yourself, you’re special.” But your child doesn’t want to be special if it means they are a category of one. We ALL need a tribe.

5) Most people are cool

There will be those who won't accept you. You will lose people. But you will also be struck, again and again, by the fear-melting power of your thriving, happy child, and by how badly most people want to love you if you let them.

[asset-images[{"caption": "", "fid": "132455", "style": "offset_right", "uri": "public://201612/unexpected-things2.JPG", "attribution": "Credit Marlo "}]]6) There is nothing new under the sun

Transgender people weren’t invented in California. They have existed in every society, in every era of human history. We just didn’t hear about them, because most of the time, they have had to hide from the rest of us.

7) Parenting a girl really isn't much different than parenting a boy

I should know, because I’ve done both with the same child. You change pronouns, pick out a new name, and buy a different set of clothes, but you still see before you the child who always was, and she is bigger than any gender: She is a person.

Marlo Mack is the creator of How to be a Girl, a podcast about daily life raising her transgender daughter. Produced in partnership with KUOW, it was recognized as one of the 50 best podcasts of 2016 by both The Atlantic and The Guardian.

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