Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Frankie Wants to Be a Woman!"

Got your attention?

Yeah. It sort of grabbed mine.

After the melt-down yesterday, when Frankie announced he didn't like Brian and Brian stormed out because Frankie was being stupid, I found the two of them downstairs playing with the Wii. It was a simple drawing program and they were quiet and friendly and laughing -- and out of video time of course. I pretended that I had lost track myself. I know...if I ignore the rules how will they follow them? But they were calm and getting along and quiet and in the basement. That was just too good to give up.

After dinner I sent the two of them in to clean up. Now the bioboys are pretty horrible about shoving as much work off onto the other kid as possible. They do this to each other too, by they way. One of the issues when we have a new kid in the house is making sure they don't take advantage. So I went back into the kitchen to check. Brian was lying on the bench, feet up in the air and Frankie was washing dishes. Yeah.

I gave him a little lecture. Brian assured me that he was doing half the work, he just couldn't do his part until after Frankie did his. Right. Heard that one before.

And then Brian did the distraction thing...where you bring up something so much more interesting that the parent completely forgets about the issue at hand. I'm usually pretty good at not falling for that. This time however it was a good one.

"Frankie wants to be a woman! He says it is his back-up plan. He wants to have surgery and become a woman."

One of the very first things we were told about Frankie was that he had expressed some gender-identity questions, so I was prepared for this. I said, "He can if he wants."

Frankie was pleased and surprised. I told him that if he was sure then he could. It was called being transexual and that I knew a couple of transwomen. I answered a slew of questions and then finally called one of said transwomen and asked her to talk to Frankie on the phone. Frankie had LOTS of questions. Detailed questions about surgery and hormones and how long things take. Questions about how to make your voice sound right. There was the point where I could hear Frankie explaining that he knew he should take his time. "But I have wanted to be a girl for 10 years ... I know that isn't long, but compared to my life it is!" After the phone call he was all ready to explain vaginal plasty to Brian, but that was more than Brian was ready for.

After the phone call we agreed that Frankie could dress and present as a girl at home if he wanted. It turned out he already had some girl clothes that his sister had given him. I found a couple of things too small for me. So...Frankie went to her room and came up in a flowing skirt and a black silky top. They didn't really work together, but it worked for her. Brian had a fit of the giggles, which didn't bother Frankie too much, though she did blush. At one point I did have to tell Frankie that girls don't cross their legs like that (ankle over knee) when they wear skirts. She switched to a lady-like crossing of the knees and asked if that was better. I said yes.

So...I'm told that the counselor we have Frankie signed up to see is good with these issues. We'll see. I have an appointment with him this afternoon. He likes to meet with a parent first. Everyone, absolutely everyone, is warning Frankie that this is something that he must take slowly. On one hand Frankie agrees and on the other hand he says excitedly, "I'll be 18 in 2 1/2 years! I will have the surgery then."

For now though he agrees to only present as a girl at home. Going to TLC is now an exceptionally good idea. If Frankie does move forward and transition, she can do it there. If she tries this out and realizes that it is not right for him, he will be able to go back to high school as a boy. In any case, Frankie has a lot to sort out. He has a tendency to live in a fantasy world. Helping Frankie distinguish reality from fantasy was one of the things the social worker thought we would be able to do well.

What remains to be seen is whether being a girl is one more way that Frankie is using to retreat from reality, or whether all the other ways in which Frankie has been retreating into fantasies were ways of avoiding dealing with being transexual. Like I said...everyone is committed to both supporting him and making him take this slowly.

Oh...and you noticed that I am having trouble with pronouns. Sorry. I may go back to using "ze, zir, zirs" or I may do what I have been in this post...switching from one gender to the other as it feels right. I don't know. (The most common gender-neutral pronouns are "ze, hir, hirs" but the second two don't SOUND gender neutral, do they?)

So we shall see, shan't we?

So ... does anyone know where I can buy a reasonable priced (i.e. cheap) pair of not-too-fake-looking falsies? I did some exploring on the web and all that I found were very expensive silicone breast prostheses. That is more than he needs, but I have to get rid of those hideous rice bags he made himself some time ago.

A week ago when we filled out the sexual safety plan Frankie told me that he didn't like to hug because hugging was for girls. After wearing a skirt for a couple of hours and being sent to bed she came over to hug me goodnight. I emailed the social worker and her response to that (after telling me to make sure he goes slowly) was, "Well it all makes sense, now."

And now I must go ... for some reason the kitchen is piled with dirty dishes.


  1. Wow! It's so impressive how you just roll.

    And at this point it doesn't even matter anymore, but I would have let the video time go as well. Getting along is more important that a rule.

    You should send Brian in to finish up the dishes because Frankie was busy.

  2. This is what happens when I leave for a week.

    Frankie becomes Ru Paul.

    How am I suppose to concentrate at school when I know he's got rice boobies?

  3. Congratulations! It's a

    Things that make you go hmmm.

    Anyway, you have all our support, as you know, and if there's anything that we can help you with, please let us know.

    I suspect your blog is about to get enormously interesting.

  4. Do you think that remaining developmentally at age 10 is a way for Frankie to avoid dealing with the fact that puberty has only heightened (what may be undesirable) male characteristics?

    Oh, and if you haven't seen Ma Vie En Rose, you *must*...

  5. Wow, I agree with FosterAbba. Things are getting interesting. I am going to be very interested in following how you handle this, as my son who is only 11 has made several comments since he is very young that he wishes he were a girl. He has very effeminate mannerisms but at 11 years old and 5'8"/200lbs he looks more like your average football player...

  6. Okay, I'll admit I snorted with laughter at "Vaginal plasticity" and "hideous bags of rice."

    But what did Brian mean by "back up plan?"

    I'm so glad he's comfortable enough with all of you to explore this.

  7. You can knit him some false breasts, really!
    Tit bits.

    cool story behind them and a free pattern - could also teach Frankie to knit, maybe.

  8. Hah, gawdess, I thought of that right away, too, but couldn't remember where I saw the pattern. I read an article lately too that said that the knit tits are big with breatstfeeding consultants.

    I dunno, though, if I'd want my first pair of boobs to be made from acrylic yarn. Maybe a good stopgap, though.

  9. good for you for being supportive. i've lived in a very progressive place (bay area, california) for a while and also studied sexuality and gender studies at the graduate level. one thing to remember is that there are a whole host of folks who aren't really male or female, but some combo and that this may even change over people's lives. some get surgery, some don't but live as a gender that's different from their anatomy, some live as their birth sex but still seem to be a bit of both. :) it's an amazing continuum.


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