E is in fifth grade, so in our school district, that means that next year she will go to middle school. A kid like E can’t just go off to a new school without some prep. So I met with her current principal and school counselor to start the conversation about what E needs in her new school.
Let me say a few words about the administration at E’s school. The principal is a woman who is everything you want a principal to be. She is a leader, a mother, a person of compassion and good sense. When she talks to me about E, she is completely present in our world. As I get to know the school counselor, I can see that she is also a gem. I feel super lucky to be walking this path with these amazing women at my side.
Our meeting went well and it was a very productive exchange about how to safely move E to the next step in her education. I came home feeling good and supported.
When E asked me about the meeting, I told her how we discussed different scenarios: if she entered middle school as is or if she entered middle school having already socially transitioned. E stopped me.
I want to transition at Concord.
This is something that I had been thinking about. It struck me that if E was going to transition, Concord Elementary would be a good place to do it. She has a contained group of kids in her grade who know and like her, a teacher who is sensitive and thoughtful, an administration who is supportive. Months ago, E and I had talked about it in the abstract, but I am very careful to respect her pace. I don’t want to rush her or delay her; it has to be in her own time.
The way she talked about it, I could see that transitioning at Concord felt manageable to her. The idea of doing it over the summer or sometime in the future seemed amorphous and unwieldy. I got it. Ok, I said. We can make that happen.
For the next two days, she had stomachaches. On the first day, the school nurse sent her home and within a couple of hours of watching SpongeBob, she was cured. The next morning it struck again. I had flashbacks to my own childhood speckled with a nervous stomach. She confessed that she was scared.
I walk into my classroom and I see all my friends and I wonder if they are still going to be my friends after.
So I tell her. I tell her that her friends love the human that she is, not the gender that she is. I tell her that her friends are good and true friends. I tell her that it may even make her closer to them. I tell her that it really won’t change much in her day to day life. I tell her I know it’s a big deal. I tell her it will be ok.
I ask her if she is sure she wants to move forward.
100% sure, she says. I want to start living my life as me.