A Letter To My Transgender Daughter
One year ago today we affirmed your identity with a new name. It was one of the names we considered for you before you were born, when we loved you so but hadn’t yet met you. It was fitting to use it now that we finally do know who you are. A year later, I can’t imagine calling you anything else. You are our Rebekah, or “Beba” as your littlest brother calls you.
I’m in awe of your strength and determination. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than watching you be yourself, and I feel so blessed that I get to watch you grow. You’re a spirited human, and you always have been. We’ve told you time and time again how as a baby you kept us up all hours of the night, refusing to sleep unless you were held, swaddled, rocked, nursed, and bounced in just the right order and the right way. You were born telling us what you needed, loudly. People would ask, “oh are they a good baby?” Of course, they meant did you sleep all night long and were you easy going. The answer to that would have been no, but were you a good baby? Yes, you were. All babies are good. But you were a spirited, intense, joyful, demanding, and affectionate baby… and none of those things have changed.
You didn’t just make daddy and I parents, you schooled us on what it meant to love a little person with their own big feelings, thoughts, and personality. You showed us we were capable of things we had never imagined, or never wanted to imagine like not sleeping for more than twenty minutes at a time for months on end. You demanded that your voice be heard. You’ve known that your thoughts, feelings, and ideas mattered just as much as the next person from the start. Your age never mattered. In truly listening to one another and responding as best we can to each other’s needs, magic happens. That’s what our family is built on, and you taught us that.
In the same way you made your voice heard at home, you made your voice heard in the world. You asked questions, you took in information, and you decided what that meant for you. At 3, you declared you would be a pink bird for the school play, even if you were supposed to be a seagull. Before you even turned four, you were calmly asserting that colors were for everyone, not just boys or just girls, to the preschoolers at school. In kindergarten, I remember your teacher telling me at pick up that you had corrected her when she said your little brother couldn’t marry his best friend, a boy. You told her how boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls. Love is love.
You’ve dressed the way you want to dress and liked the things you want to like for your whole life. It’s not that people always thought it was okay. Sometimes kids, and even adults, didn’t. Sometimes they parroted whatever they’d been taught about colors or nail polish and gender norms. That hurt. I know it hurt. But you worked it out. There was a very short time period where your favorite color was “anything but pink or purple”, but it didn’t last long. You’ve always known who you are and wanted to express yourself on your terms. It hasn’t always been easy, but you’ve handled it with more grace than I could have dreamed.
In the months leading up to you becoming Rebekah, you continued in this way. Quiet questions. Lots of thinking. Careful choices. You felt your way around the possibilities, you wrestled with what was in your heart versus what was in the world in ways that most adults haven’t. Like a little caterpillar, you explored, soaking up information and chomping your way towards an understanding of the world. Then you created a cocoon where you digested all these thoughts and sorted your feelings. When you were ready, you emerged as a brilliant butterfly.
You laughter is infectious. Your smile lights the world. You make friends everywhere you go, and your teachers tell us they wish they had a WHOLE class of Rebekahs (although we’re certain the world couldn’t handle that!). You have a spark in you that drives you to love and care for people while dreaming big and making change.
You are still so very spirited, joyful, determined, and affectionate. Mommy and daddy love your snuggles, your humor, and we survive your sass. You are still the strong little person you were when you were born, gently but firmly demanding that the world meet you on your terms, and teaching mommy and daddy the fullest meaning of unconditional love and grace.
You know who you are in this world, and we are so incredibly blessed to know and love you.
(Originally published on I am totally *that* mom on April 16, 2016 to celebrate and honor the first anniversary of my daughter living as herself in the world, her transiversary if you will. I read it to her then, I will read it to her this year and, I imagine, every year that follows. I still feel every word from the bottom of my heart.)