I am a little nervous.
I’ve asked Eliza several times and she has said yes, without hesitation, every time. But still, I’m nervous. No one in our family knows what to expect but, as of last week, we are all expected.
I signed us up after applying for a scholarship. I put the reduced registration fee on a credit card, arranged to stay with family and that was that.
“Are you sure?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said. “They’ll be half half’s there?”
“Yes,” I said. I think. That’s what the website said. I don’t know but I think.
We are going to a conference for gender non-conforming kids and their parents. We are going in search of other half half kids. Half half is the way Eliza describes herself. Half boy. Half girl. Last winter another parent of a gender non-conforming kid I know in our town (I only know two others) raved about this conference. If you have a transgender kid, a gender creative kid, you will find other kids like them at this conference, she said. I so desperately want to believe it. You will find other parents asking the same questions you ask yourself every night before you fall asleep, she said. She knows that I do that, I thought.
“I know there are other kids like me,” she says. And I know she’s right. In a few weeks we’ll set out to find them. Like settlers, we’ll go west on a little myth and a little hope. We don’t know what we’ll find. I want to believe a supportive group exists, a safe place where my child can be who she is completely because lately I worry that she’s trying to fit in, trying to fly under the radar and, honestly, that scares more than anything.
Eliza looks more like a girl these days that she has since I put her hair in buns on the sides of her head at two years old. She has long tangled hair, wears spaghetti strap tank tops and to-the-knee jean shorts by choice. She blends in. She passes. She’s conforming in some ways but underneath it all she wears boxer briefs even when they bunch up under her shorts. No matter what, she will not wear panties, she says. There is something so telling in this detail and when I think of this conference I’m hoping to find a person or two who understands.
In the last six months, Eliza’s anxiety and need for control have hit a fever pitch. And it was about six months ago that she asked to go shopping in the girls department. I can’t help but think the two are related. If she’s pushing something underground, it has to come out in some way, I suppose. I’m not going looking for trouble, I swear, just noticing what’s in front of me.
I want to find a place where she can let her shoulders relax, where she can just be. I want her to find kids like her, to feel some sense of belonging in a room full of children who move along the gender spectrum like she does. I hope this conference can provide space for her even if it’s only for a weekend. I am nervous because I know I will be deeply disappointed if it doesn’t.
So, in a few weeks we go. Off to find our destiny? I can only hope.