A few months into the transition, a close friend was visiting when Danielle came exuberantly through the living room in her girlish teenage manner. After she was gone, I asked my friend, "Isn't she just the cutest thing?"
His answer echoed in my ears for days. "In my mind's eye," he said, "I still see the boy I used to know."
Again and again that phrase went through my head. I had retrained my mind's eye so that now I only saw the girl, but I understood his reaction. In the beginning, even though my real eye could see the girl, my old brain would spit out male pronouns. After that experience, I could better understand why some parents have trouble allowing their children to grow up and change. In their mind they still have the image of a beloved toddler, an innocent seven or eight year-old, or a rebellious teenager. It takes some time for the mind's eye to replace the youthful image with a new picture of the adult. This may explain why a husband does not notice a new hairstyle, or why the family doesn't notice grandma's wrinkles. It is even more difficult to replace the old image with one of the opposite gender.
Since I saw Danielle every day, my mind's eye had been retrained until I no longer saw the little boy, but only a lovable teenage girl. It was more difficult for Danielle's relatives to retrain their minds when they saw her infrequently or only in pictures. Even though our eyes had seen the same person, my friend still saw the boy that used to be, whereas I just saw a jubilant daughter.
[Illustration - 'My friend still saw the boy that used to be, whereas I just saw a jubilant daughter']