For many, school started again last week. That is how Sietse started his further education. A moment that sparked conversations between us in the past. Well, that sounds a bit heavy. Rather, it was a kind of attunement in which I asked him how he wanted to go about it, gradually shifting the emphasis from ‘How are you going to tell?’ to ‘Will you tell me?’.
In the beginning it was easy. The first secondary school he attended was home to many old acquaintances. All people who still knew him as her. Including the maiden name. The next training, the question was briefly on the table whether he wanted to say that he was born with the body of a girl. Because yes, he doesn’t want to live forever as a transgender. Well, if the man like him is. He told me anyway. Purely and only because there was an operation coming up and he didn’t want to be secretive about it.
For example, during the transition, every new school, association or club is again a moment in which what is being said is weighed up. And that can shift during the transition. Gradually, the number of moments at which it is decided to tell something decreases. That is to say: for the classic transgender people who make the switch from male to female, or vice versa, very binary. This is often more difficult for people who do not feel classically binary male or female, but, for example, non-binary. So little is known about this among so many people that it often leads to an explanation.
A small side step is a recently published article in a Dutch newspaper that called for students to ask for their pronouns. A call that I fully support, but want to expand. So let all school staff introduce themselves with their pronouns too. And, equally important, don’t just sign with the name, but also with the pronouns.
How Sietse’s first day went last week? During the introduction round, he not only told his name and where he came from, but also immediately afterwards said that he is transgender. With a big grin my sweet teasing son told about the surprised reactions. And the fun he had for that.