Sarah Hoffman

parenting my gender-nonconforming son

Sarah Hoffman

Sarah Hoffman
Birthday
December 31
Bio
Sarah Hoffman is the mother of a pink boy and a girl whose favorite color is yellow. She writes for national magazines, newspapers, and radio, and speaks publicly about raising her gender-nonconforming son. Read more about Sarah at www.sarahhoffmanwriter.com.

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Salon.com
AUGUST 28, 2011 12:38AM

Letters to School

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In my last post, I shared the letter that my husband and I wrote to the parents in Sam’s kindergarten class. Since my readers have a variety of school situations, and their children span a wide age range, I plan to share several letters from readers in the hopes that those of you writing your own letters will find some inspiration. And for those of you not working on letters, I’m hoping that it will be interesting to read about the range of situations, expectations, and styles that different parents bring to the experience of parenting and schooling gender-nonconforming and transgender children. (If you’ve written a letter that you would like me to share with my readers, please email it to me at sarah_hoffman@yahoo.com.)

The following letter was written by Ann LaCross* the mother of Alex, a four-and-a-half-year-old biological boy who is changing from “he” to “she” for the upcoming pre-K year. In addition to this letter, Anne let me know that she will be writing a similar version to friends and family noting that gender is fluid, that their daughter may change back to a male gender identity, and that they will respond to that change with their own fluidity—and, I would say, grace—if that comes to pass.

Hello Parents,

I’m Ann LaCross, mother of Alex LaCross-Welch, who is the youngest of our four children and is in the 4s program this year. My husband, Jason Welch (coach of the soccer team) and I have been Rose Day parents for seven years with two older kids who’ve graduated and a son currently in middle school.

When Alex was born, we sent out the normal birth announcement, celebrating the data on hand—length, weight, gender. We celebrated Alex’s arrival—our new baby boy! But gender is complex. It takes shape in the brain and can’t be defined simply by body parts. What truly matters is how a person feels on the inside. And, as it turns out, Alex is actually a girl on the inside. We noticed Alex’s girl-preferences at the age when gender first starts to assert itself—around one-and-a-half or two—and although we expected this to be a phase, it wasn’t. Alex’s gender identity has been consistent and clear—girl. As you can imagine, we’ve done loads of research on the topic, have talked to specialists, and are invested in the most current literature.

Culturally, we talk a good game about the importance of what’s on the inside, living with authenticity, and being true to who we are. Jason and I have decided that we should probably try to live by those words. This summer, Alex expressed the desire to be called “she.” We are honoring that request and have received great support from the teachers and administration at Rose Day. Alex will be just another girl in the class.

We know that this might bring up questions at home. We put it this way: to saying that Alex was born a boy but is now an affirmed girl who prefers to be called “she.” We try to keep it pretty simple. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email one of us. (We know this can be a touchy subject and that some of you may hold political, cultural, or religious beliefs that oppose what we’re doing. We respect that and hope that respect is mutual.)

 I recently read the work of a young transgendered author who wrote, “I wish people hadn’t told me how hard my life was going to be, but instead how rich.” The thing is, Alex is a great kid—funny, kind, inquisitive, a real joy machine. She is the real gift and our lives are richer because we’re lucky enough to have her with us.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

All my best,

Ann LaCross

 *All of the names and places are pseudonymous.

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