i mentioned in a previous post that i’ve been reading a book called “luna” by julie anne peters. it is a very touching story of a trans-girl told by her sympathetic but not always understanding younger sister.
the story touches me on many levels. it is well-written and poignant. the insights into not only the troubles the trans-girl, luna, faces but also the trials that the younger sister goes through serve to paint a most realistic portrait of them both.
having a couple of very good transsexual friends in my life, it was easy to imagine these real life people in the place of luna. the family dynamics, the fear of being herself, the bullying when she is less than the ‘male’ that society sees, the spectre of rejection by family and friends, the ultimate life or death need to be who she is are all familiar variations on the stories my friends have shared with me.
today, while reading a specific passage wherein the narrator, regan (the younger sister) relates an episode from early on in their childhood, the story became all too real. far from merely hitting a bit too close to home, it hit the nail right on the head.
in the recollection, regan, her older brother (the trans-girl, luna.) and the daughter of a neighbor were all swimming in the neighbor’s pool, when the girls ask if they can swim naked. they are very young, pre-kindergarten age, and the mothers say it’s okay. liam, (luna) also gets naked. what happens next is like a page out of my own memories of just 5 years ago, of ziona.
in the story, the little trans-girl starts trying to pull off the penis. she’s crying and almost hysterical. she runs to her mother and begs her to help ‘take it off’, she’s screaming and beside herself in pain and horror.
the clueless mom thinks he was merely ‘touching’ himself down there, says to stop, that it’s nasty and sends him, (her) inside as a punishment for misbehaving. when the mom goes inside, the next thing the younger sister remembers is the mom screaming “what have you done? oh my god. put that knife down!” then bursting outside with liam (luna) in her arms to rush him to the emergency room.
at this point in my reading, a chill went down my spine. memories of the times i found ziona trying to pull ‘the penis’ off, of catching her with the plastic play scissors from her pretend doctor’s kit in one hand and ‘the penis’ in the other. of her begging me to ‘do it’, to ‘cut it off’, that i could do it without her bleeding to death.
“you can do it, mom! i know you can! please!!” the frantic voice beseeching me to do what every child knows a mom can do…make it better.
it was a very traumatic time. my little one, not yet four years old expressed suicidal intent so that “i can die and god can get it right this time”
my mind reeled. i explained to ziona that if god had made a mistake, god also made a way to correct the error. she was of course, not old enough yet to understand all that would be involved, but she realised at that moment, that mommy would help to make it better, in time.
there have been no more attempts to rid herself of ‘the penis’, and at nearly 9 years old, she can now understand that we will have to wait until she’s a bit older to do the surgery, and that ‘the penis’ will become her ‘girl parts,’ the vagina.
i am grateful, to whatever god or universal spirit exists, that my mind was open enough to really ‘hear’ my lovely daughter’s pleas. that life had somehow prepared me for the news so that even while it wasn’t something i would ever have wished for her, i can fully support her and advocate for her until such time as she can do so for herself.
there is no more sense of trauma surrounding the fact that she is a girl whose body will have to be ‘changed’ in order to be in line with who she is. we know that very soon we will be starting her on puberty blockers, followed shortly by what will be a life-long regimen of cross-hormones, and eventually reassignment surgery. we are at peace with the realities now. but back then…
still, after reading the particular passage to which i refer, i had to put the kindle down. altho my eye’s can’t make them, tears nonetheless spilled over in my heart, which felt as tho it were being crushed. it was necessary to take a break, run a bath, get dressed and busy myself with whatever ‘in the present’ chores i could find so that the memories of the past, of her pain when she’d first realised that she had the wrong body, of her own frantic pleading that i ‘cut it off’, could fade into the background once more.
there! that’s better…
now to finish the book.