You never know when those moments are going to pop up.
My kids and I were strolling along the Walkway Over The Hudson (which I highly recommend for New Yorkers!) and someone walked by us prompting my daughter to ask, “Was that a boy or a girl?”.
I’d been thinking about our upcoming Dancing With The Stars family nights and how that would be a great opportunity to talk to my 8 year old girls about what the Jazz with Chaz was all about. I also recalled one of the girls catching a snippet on Chaz Bono on TV a few weeks back. So, I went for it.
“I actually am not sure if that was a boy or a girl” I answered.
They wrestled back and forth – it must be a girl because she was… it must be a boy because he was… and I was mentally planning how we’d move forward in this albeit tricky yet important topic. I believe children, when the question start, should have honest & age appropriate answers to anything.
I started by asking the girls if they knew who Cher was. I had some help! I sang “Does She Love Me… I Want to Know” perhaps a bit too loud, and a group of men coming in the other direction broke out in unison “How Can I Tell If She Loves Me So”. My husband cringed (because of my voice, most certainly not the upcoming topic!)
I explained that a singer named Cher had a little girl named Chastity. Chastity eventually grew up and shared her story with the world, bravely, and that was how I knew about it and was able to share with them. Chastity grew up feeling funny in her body – not tickle funny but more uncomfortable funny. She grew up knowing that something about her body did not feel right.
My daughter asked, “Was she a tom-boy?”
Well, sort of. She grew up feeling more like a boy than a girl, like maybe her body was not the right body for the feelings inside of her. I explained that when she was a grownup and was able to talk through her feelings with special doctors, she made a decision to get an operation and take medicine to help her body become a boy body.
And here are the questions:
Did it hurt? Did her mom know? Was her mom mad? What bathroom does she go into? What clothes does she wear? Can she have babies? Should I say he or she? Does she have a wife? Does she have a husband” Does she have eggs? Does she have a weiner?
This was a two mile walk with a lot of slow & carefully constructed answers to all of their questions.
I stressed how hard it must have been for Chaz to talk about his story in front of the world, but because of him being so brave, we had the opportunity to understand. I said there would be a lot of things we’d talk about in time on a lot of topics and that they should always ask me if they are wondering about anything.
It was a good talk.
XOXO Dr. Jen