Look closely at the picture. Think about it. What do you see? Put a pin in that……
We sit eating Tikka Masala and discuss baby names. Boys names. The Italian family tradition of names ending in an “O”. Mateo, Leonardo, Leo? We immediately decide on Leo, it’s perfect. Marco admits he was secretly hoping for a boy. I would have been happy either way but am secretly mourning not having a girl – just a little bit. Ultimately thrilled. The day I found out I was pregnant was the happiest day of my life so far. I’ve always wanted a baby. I loved children. I was a teacher of young children and already knew so much.
It wasn’t easy for us. Marco changed his mind at the last minute. He was afraid. It was risky. What if there are challenges, what if he failed? We went to therapy and compromised. We would have only one. The therapist told us one was a lot easier than two. I was sad to be denied a bigger family. Not big like the one I came from, (6 kids), but at least two. A sibling to fight and get annoyed with when you are young but to enjoy and reminisce with when you are older…..
I order a burger at the drive through speaker. No mayonnaise please. A four year old Leo in the back seat, “Marcy, what’s mayonnaise?” I describe it, the ingredients, and Leo quickly responds, “well then, I certainly don’t want Mayonnaise either”. Early on he was smart, verbal. Called us by our first names despite our requests not to. He was strong willed, funny, constantly making us laugh and smile.
We read together, all the Harry Potter books. He had a Gryffindor robe, from Marks and Spencer, and he ran around the house casting spells and ruling his little universe. We spent long hours on the beach in Michigan. Eating wild blackberries on the way, exploring the dunes, looking for lucky stones and beach glass and making sculptures out of the clay that eroded off the cliffs into the lake. Leo was baptized with the waters of Lake Michigan by an African Shaman with close friends and family in attendance. I wasn’t working. We slept with the windows open, took long naps during the afternoons and went to get Blue Moon ice cream at Sherman’s Dairy……
I get a frantic call at work. “Mom, I can’t do this alone! You have to come home right now.” I battle Chicago traffic and head home. Stressed and sad and annoyed and afraid. I pull up to the house and call Lynn to come out. It is our second teen, transgender, support group at Lurie Children’s Hospital. Lynn was going to take the El and I was going to meet her there but she was overwhelmed. She came to the car wearing my lavender, Mizrahi, trench coat (Target), her eyes smudged with black mascara, her lips bright pink, tears in her eyes…..
“I need to have surgery, and it needs to be in Thailand”. She has done her research and wants the best in the world. There are so many things I don’t like about this plan, the first being that I hate flying. Ultimately, she wins me over. It’s her body, that she has to live with for the rest of her life. And now we are here. The two of us (Marco left a couple of years ago). A few days before the surgery we found ourselves in Pattaya, a beach town made popular by US soldiers on R&R during the Vietnam war. A couple of days to relax and enjoy the beauty of this country. The above picture was taken in the pool on a sunny, hot day full of hope and anxiety and happiness. Together we float underwater, curled up in fetus positions, holding hands. The water is so warm. We are in the womb together….
The night before we ventured out to “Walking Street” – the notorious sex district. Right before leaving Lynn said, “maybe we should go to a temple or something instead?” The taxi drops us off and tells us to follow the alley. It’s dark and desolate and then it isn’t. Lights, people, crazy busy, women everywhere, gesturing for us to come inside.
Lynn holds a balloon high above her head. A few feet away a woman is on her back, legs spread and high in the air, Lynn’s balloon pops from a dart she just shot out of her “body”. One can’t help but be somewhat curious. A Swiss man we met in the elevator of our hotel sheepishly said, “you must do it once”. Of course I felt awful for the young women and for a world that continues to exploit women in this ugly way. As we walked back to our hotel I felt kind of like a bad mom, it was like a sleazy bachelorette party, 3 days before gender affirming surgery. “Please, don’t ever do things like that with your vagina” I tell her…..
I see her for the first time after the surgery. I am so relieved. She sees me and smiles. Her face so full of contentment and happiness. “Mom, I have a vagina”. I hold her hand and together we wait for what will come next…..
About The Guest Author
Marcy Steenstra lives in Oak Park and is a Montessori teacher in the West Loop. She is the proud mom of a 19 year trans daughter.
A Note From Pat Green
Marcy sent me this entry asking me my opinion. I fell in love with it and asked her if it had a home yet. She said no. I told her I would be honored to host this story here.
Please feel free to share this and let her and Lynn know you support them. It has been an honor getting to know Marci and I loved having the dynamic of a TransParent that is a mom with a young lady and a very important chapter in their life as a family.
Metamorphosis happens in many ways. Transformation does not mean you go from one thing to another, it is really a process of becoming. Over the years I have met different trans and fluid people who make different choices in their becoming who they already are. Bottom surgery, top surgery, hormone therapy, voice lessons, clothing choices, laser hair removal, and so forth. Metamorphosis is the personal journey of the caterpillar/butterfly. No one else gets to determine the journey, we can either support it or deny the reality in front of us.
My closing thoughts are this. The Pope and evangelical Christians (which includes the Vice President of the United States of America) have made it quite clear that they think young men like my son and young ladies like Lynn are sinful abominations and parents like Marcy and I are abusive. There are liberals like a woman I went to high school with who is what is known as a TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist). People like her who claim to be protecting their daughter from penis in the ladies room will never accept a woman like Lynn. In the mind of someone like her, my son is a confused lesbian. Language like that is deadly to the young. Then you have some atheist leaders who claim they support transgender people, but then make disparaging remarks stating that they are not real women or real men.
Lynn is a wonderful young lady and I hope her recovery goes well. My son is my son. Their metamorphosis is lovely to behold. I pity those who cannot and will not see beauty in these stories.