By: Amber Leventry
For the last three months, we have answered and asked questions, we have exchanged emails and had meetings. My partner and I have done our best to keep you up-to-date, informed, and comfortable with the definition of transgender and what it means for our child. In anticipation of her entrance into your classroom, you have been a large part our daughter’s transition. I feel confident that we have done everything we can to provide you with the tools you need to care for and support our child this school year. I am also confident you would have done this anyway, blindly loving her for who she is and not for the gender she expresses.
For so many reasons I am excited for her to start preschool; you know this as well as the packets of information I keep sending to you. But there are a few things you don’t know, some things I haven’t been able to articulate until now, days before I drop her off, leaving her in your capable, yet new care.
I am terrified. As much as my gut and brain tell me it will be fine, I’m still scared. Kids are amazingly understanding and accepting, but I am afraid of the comments that will come out of their curious mouths. I am afraid of the comments streamed from the less accepting minds of parents, transferred from home to the classroom through their children and into the ears of my daughter and her classmates. My daughter is so sure of who she is and is as confident as she has ever been in her young life, but she can’t unhear words. They will stay with her. They will remind her she is different. And if they don’t eat at her, they will be more hurdles for her to overcome. Her spirit will take some blows, but I cannot handle it being broken.
While my daughter lives her truth, I feel like I am living a lie. It’s a strange sensation to burst with pride and relief to see your child be free and happy to also feel a tug of panic. We are not ashamed of our daughter nor do we keep her life as a transgender child a secret, but we don’t walk around with a banner labeling our child. She is so much more than transgender, yet I worry that someone will feel deceived or angry because their view of a sweet little girl is somehow tainted when they learn she was born into a boy’s body. I constantly know something many of the people around me do not. It’s a privilege for them to learn this something, but for the people who think it’s their right, I guard my daughter with always alert eyes and ears and with my heart draped over her like a shield.
Yet, I trust you, teachers. I know we are adding to the things you need to learn, think, and maybe worry about. But I am leaving my daughter in your classroom because you have said you are willing to do these things and more. I need to trust you, because I am tired. So tired.
It is exhausting to always be on the lookout, to always be several steps ahead of what someone might say or do. I can’t get away from the bombardment of gender stereotypes, misunderstandings, and unfounded fear from people who I know live in our town. I will continue to educate those wanting information and those who didn’t ask for it but are going to get it from me anyway with the first sign of their ignorance. I am giving some of that responsibility to you. Thank you for taking it. Thank you for letting me trust you.
But for these reasons, teachers, it’s hard to breathe. My shoulders and chest are tight from the shallow pattern of my breath. My lungs sometimes forget what it feels like to be filled with deep intakes of air. I try to remember. I tell myself to breathe, that it will be fine. That it’s okay to release the stress, the worry, and the noisy thoughts in my brain. It’s hard to let my guard down long enough to let go and let in something that will hurt.
When I walk out of the classroom, leaving my daughter in your care for the first time, I will allow myself to release a deep sigh of relief. Because after three years of being a stay at home mom to her and her twin brother, I deserve it. And for the last several months leading to this day, to this place of truth and freedom, my daughter deserves it.
These are the things I want you to know and the things I am able to tell you right now. There will be more, so much more, but for now, thank you for giving me respect and kindness. Thank you for giving me the safety to be vulnerable, for letting me a parent. Thank you for taking care of my child without conditions.
With all sincerity,
The mom of a transgender child