“Will I turn into a boy, too, like Chrissy?”
The question just burst into the air. She was coloring at the kitchen table while I made lunch. Suddenly, involuntarily, the question swam in my brain! A question that had never occurred to me or any of my friends as a child. How would her parents answer? Why had she asked me? Did she sense that I could be the one who welcomes her questions? Was I a safe adult in her life? This was an important moment. I prayed for wisdom.
“How do you think Chrissy turned into a boy?” I asked.
“I don’t know. She says her name is Chris now and she wears boy’s clothes and cuts her hair short.”
She continued coloring, unwilling to see my expression.
I matched her distractedness by mixing peanut butter and grape jelly. “That must have been strange to think your friend has changed this way.” I wanted her to know that her feelings were safe with me.
“Yeah. Some of the kids don’t like her any more. Some of them called her ‘gay,’ too.”
“Do you think that calling her ‘gay’ was a good thing or a bad thing? And what do they mean, ‘gay,'” I encouraged
“I don’t know,” she said. “The teachers don’t care and tell all of us that Chrissy wants to be a boy and so now she is. But Grandpa and Daddy are mad and don’t want me to play with Chrissy anymore.” Her wide eyes now searched my face for answers and I saw they were filling with tears. She was so torn.
I set aside my meal preparation and, sitting down next to her, I picked up the crayons and joined her in her coloring, grateful for the relaxing connection. “Well, Jesus does say to treat people the way we’d want to be treated,” I continued. “Do you think Chrissy really turned into a boy or do you think she just wants to look like and be treated like a boy instead of a girl?”
“I don’t know,” she repeated. “She still has to use the girls’ restroom at school because she doesn’t like going to the boys’ bathroom because ….” she stopped then, afraid she was wading into questionable waters.
“Is it because boys go to the bathroom differently from girls, do you think?”
We needed to refocus. I could see she was genuinely confused by the implications of Chrissy’s choice and how she was expected to respond. The adults in her life were making opposite statements and holding her to opposing expectations. She was terrified that something out of her control might alienate her from the adults she loved. There was more to this than her eye could meet…or her young mind embrace. For her, this was a no-win situation. What was she to do?
(to be continued)