PART II.....LEARNING - The Antijen Pages

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PART II.....LEARNING

Mom

The next few weeks before school started, Danielle stayed close to home and very close to me. It was as if she had regressed to infancy and was bonding with me. She wanted to sit by me, sleep in my room, and be with me all the time. She needed many hugs and frequent reassurance. How could a child in these circumstances survive if there was no one there to hug her? She returned to her independent teenage self after a month or so.

Some transsexuals in Neutral Corner referred us to Mr. Hunter as the best counselor in the community. I went to the first appointment with Danielle because I didn't want to turn my new daughter over to a stranger who might convince her that she was crazy so that he could then cure her, or one that would come between us. Danielle wore very feminine attire, but was still in her garish phase - tight, short, loud - exaggerated but very cute. The therapist talked to us about our situation a little, but mostly told us about all of his experiences. He inquired whether Danielle was traumatized at an early age for he claimed to have done research to prove his theory that transsexualism is caused by trauma to children under 31 months of age. Daniel was one year old at the time of the flood, and I thought his verbal skills had been affected. He stopped making sounds at all, and only smiled, cried, and pointed until he was three. Whether he was influenced by early trauma made little difference at this point, as I wanted to know what to do now.

Counselor Hunter gave us a Personal History form to fill out and return to him with $150.00. He told us someone else would review it. There would also be psychological testing down the road that would cost $700.00, but we were not to worry about that yet. When the interview was over, he didn't tell us when he wanted to see Danielle again. He did, however, warn us to be careful.  Apparently most transsexuals are beaten up at least once by a
date if he learns of her past.

We discovered that the questionnaire dealt mostly with adult issues such as marriage, children, sex, and work. There was only a small part about family, growing up, and school that we could fill out, but we returned the form with the money. We never did find out who was reviewing this questionnaire for him. Mr hunter called me a month later and referred us to an endocrinologist.

We were nearing the end of the summer and had to find some way of getting Danielle into school. It was obvious to me that she would have a better chance if she went to a new school. From past experience I had learned some secrets about getting a child into a specific school in our district. The best way was to move into the neighborhood near the school. There were at least two schools with waiting lists that did not take students from the neighborhood, but if you were the right race you might be bussed from one neighborhood to another, depending on the racial balance the school was trying to achieve. I had played the race game several times with the older boys. Since my children are one-half Hispanic and the other half a mixture of European races, I would choose whichever race was needed for a given situation. On several occasions I tried to do away with race questions altogether, for I objected to choosing either Hispanic or Caucasian. A student could not be registered as mixed racial origin even though he was, nor could he be just American.

Finding a school that would be safe for Danielle was uppermost in my mind. When I asked Mr. Hunter about schools, he advised me to call school principals and explain the situation. When I found a friendly person, I could register Danielle in that school.  Following his advice was not easy because the schools were not in session during the summer. Most of the administrators were gone and would not be back until just before school started. Time was running out, and if I had to move, I wanted to get started.

I decided to go directly to the top and call the school district office. There were all kinds of "touchy-feely" committees promoting student wellness, selfesteem, and equity, so I thought they would surely be able to help Danielle. After being transferred from department to department, it seemed the person who normally handled this situation was on vacation. I was finally connected to Ellen.

"What is the school district's policy for dealing with a transsexual student?" I asked.

She asked several questions and then put me on hold while she talked to her boss. When she came back on the phone she said, "Our policy is that we can not discriminate."

"That is not much help."

She said again, "All I can say to you is that we can not discriminate." It sounded as if she wanted to say more.

I hung up in tears of anger and frustration. If they could not discriminate then my "girl" could be in the boy's physical education classes or with the girls, and the school authorities could not do anything about it. Perhaps if they understood the situation, they would not want her in either PE class. I would wait a few more days for someone to return who supposedly knew more about placing a special student.

After many frustrating calls, I was able to set up an appointment to discuss the matter with a school official face-to-face. I went to the appointment with little hope of receiving help because this official and I had done battle before over the race issue. A few years before he told me that the school district would take me to court and designate one race for my boys since I was refusing to specify one race for them. He didn't follow through on that threat, and I hoped that he did not remember me or the heated words that we exchanged at that time. To my surprise, he was cordial and appeared genuine in his desire to help me.  (Apparently he did not remember our other encounter.) However, he had no previous experience with a situation like this. Upon inquiry, the computer department informed him that a student's name could not be changed unless the birth certificate was changed. I knew that the name on a birth certificate can be changed, but the gender cannot be changed until after sex reassignment surgery.

He told me about the alternative school programs available in the school district. One was home schooling, but I was not interested in that. There was a program mostly for troubled teens where they could go at their own speed: that wouldn't do either. Danielle was not a troubled teen and I had heard only negative reports about this program. The third possibility was a small alternative school that he said was "pretty laid back" with few rules, but promoted student responsibility. There were some gays and lesbians attending who had not been successful in other schools.  The PE program was informal, so the students wore their regular school clothes. This seemed to be the right place to put Danielle, so I filled out the necessary forms. I told him I needed to know soon because I preferred to live close to the school rather than have her bussed across town, and it would be necessary to move. We left on good terms. I didn't even cry.

A few hours later he called with bad news. There was a two-year waiting list for entrance to the alternative school.

"Is there any other school that you might consider?" he asked.

I said, "If you can find a place where she will be protected from being beaten, or made fun of, and preferably, where she won't have to take PE, let me know. Since the school principals aren't around yet, it will be hard to talk to them."

He added, "I need to talk to one other person about the alternative school. Maybe there is some hope of getting her in if that person talks to the principal."

So it was still a very frustrating waiting game, with time getting shorter. At the beginning of August, I had given my 30 days notice to the apartment manager, so we had to move soon.

In talking to friends and teachers, I discovered there were quite a few of the teachers' children in this alternative school program. I wondered how long they had been on the "list." A week later, when I was reaching the end of my patience, I talked to David about the alternative school where I thought Danielle would be safe. My plan was to ask the school district to provide me with information on the length of time every student in the school had been on the waiting list. Then I would say I thought they were playing favorites and would loudly demand justice.

David said, "Mother, Mother. Go down to the school district again and tell them you are on the verge of going crazy because you are so worried about your new daughter. You don't want her to be hurt or commit suicide and you don't know what to do and pour on a few tears. "

Although I hate to stoop to such feminine tactics, I did what he said. The tears did come easily, and it worked. School administrators came back from vacation, strings were pulled, and they finally told me I could register Danielle the next Friday.  They suggested I register her by her new name and not give too much information. The school principal knew about Danielle's situation, and suggested that the school guidance counselor be told also. He also told me that another transsexual student had attended the school the year before, so I asked if there was any way that I could talk to the parents. The school administrator agreed to give the parents my number, and they could contact me if they wanted to talk to me. It seemed that the school district actually had a heart after all.

While Danielle was having her first appointment with the endocrinologist, I registered her for school. There were the usual numerous and redundant forms to be filled out, and the request for previous records. I told the registration clerk that Danielle had been to school in Canada, and I did not have the address with me. This was partly true for she had attended a few months of school in Canada while living with my brother a year or two earlier. Danielle and I had decided to change her birth date by a year so when her previous name and her new name appeared together on the computer listing, it would not be a cause for suspicion. We had doctored the name on the immunization card by adding the two more letters of her new name to the handwritten form. And this time I didn't make a fuss about the race question.

We forgot to change dates on the immunization papers, and that came back to haunt us a year later when someone noticed she was immunized before she was born. I claimed I just couldn't keep track of all my children's birthdays.

In my own mind, when I tried to justify the lying about names and gender, I decided it was necessary to make the corrections now because the true facts were not known when she was born. I began to call it truthing - the truth as I saw it. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Getting her safely situated was more important to me than the information the school officials or the state bureaucrats needed to know. When we claimed Danielle was a new student, all her previous records went to the unclaimed record file, wherever that is.

There were other reasons to be apprehensive about Danielle's schooling, for Daniel could never quite keep up with his class in school. Even during his pre-school years, it was evident that he had trouble with numbers and money. He wanted to play card games and was quick to learn the rules, but could not count the spots on cards above six. When he went to kindergarten he could only identify his lunch money as the big coin, the middle sized, and the little one - meaning a quarter, nickel and dime. We thought he was color blind because he could not learn the names of colors, although he noticed and remarked about colors and textures more than most children his age. When he was asked what he liked about the new kindergarten he was attending, he said, "I like it because it has such nice colors." On the first day of school, he had noticed that the door to each room around the court yard was painted a different pastel color.

Even though the school promoted him, I held Daniel back to repeat the first grade. He was still struggling with the letters of the alphabet, but not because he didn't try. He loved his teacher and she loved him, and there was no disruptive behavior. He seemed bright enough, but because of his confusion about letters and numbers, we suspected some learning disability. I had him tested by an educational psychologist at a university. The results were that he had no learning disability, but was not as mature as one would expect at his age. He was tested again at the end of the second year of first grade when he had still not mastered the basics. The result was the same - he would be all right when he matured a little more.

As he progressed in school he continued to have difficulty with letters and numbers, and particularly in learning the multiplication tables. He would learn the sixes, but by the time he learned the sevens, he had forgotten the sixes no matter how much I helped him or how hard he tried. He was such a loving and happy boy that I couldn't get impatient with him. He did very well with coloring and crafts, and had an extraordinary appreciation for art and beauty. He was very sensitive to the feelings of other, and always noticed when someone felt sad, ill, or unhappy. I had read that such sensitivity is common in girls, who are able to pick up subtle clues and notice small change of facial expressions, but is unusual in a boy. But Daniel had no idea about yesterday or tomorrow, or the meaning of night and morning. He used the words interchangeably. He liked to cook and learned to read enough to follow a recipe, but I didn't think he would ever learn more fractions than those used in the cook book.

Daniel's feminine demeanor and behavior had, however, been of some concern to a few of the teachers and counselors in the school system.

"Your son swishes when he walks," said Daniel's third grade teacher. I knew she meant that his hips swayed and he walked like a girl. "Every time the children are walking in line to and from the classroom, I tell him to quit swishing."

I knew he "swished" when he walked. I was just sorry that Daniel had to be hassled by this thoughtless teacher. I told her, "If it is not getting in the way of his learning, please ignore it.  Please stop pointing it out and just leave him alone."

She seemed to have little understanding of children, and we had no choice of teachers because she was the only one for that grade. So we moved to another school.

It was a school counselor who called the next year. "Do you know your son is playing with girls on the playground at recess?" I thought, "Why is that harmful? Girls are people, too, and why should it matter that he wants to play with them.?"

The counselor went on to say. "Your son has been overheard saying that he wants to be a girl."

What do you think I should do about that?" I asked.

"Well, don't encourage it," was his answer. "Ten is way too young to know about sexual orientation." I did mention the conversation to Daniel, but he evaded the subject.

When Daniel was in eighth grade, I was called to the school for a conference with both the school nurse and the counselor.

"Your son needs counseling," was their advice to me.

"Why do you think so?"

"Because he cries when the other children make fun of him."

It sounded to me as if they were trying to treat the symptoms without treating the disease. I figured they were advising counseling for Daniel so as to change his behavior because they could not control the children who were teasing and calling him names. They never came right out and said he was gay, but they beat around that bush for awhile.

When I asked for a referral to a good counselor, they did not know of any, and the school district had no such counselors.

....

When I talked to the endocrinologist after Danielle's first visit, I was pleased to find that he had a positive attitude although he had not seen many transsexuals as young as Danielle.  He gave her the prescription for hormones, and had blood drawn for lab work. Danielle was thrilled to have reached that important milestone. In the waiting room were two persons I had previously met at a support meeting, and they were very much impressed that Danielle passed so well already. Comments like these made me teary-eyed, but I tried to keep from crying in front of Danielle so as not to worry or stress her.

From the doctor's office, we went to the new apartment to sign papers, then we headed for the drug store. I had just said to Danielle, "I can't handle anything more today," when I noticed that the gas gauge was on empty.

It had been a good day overall, but dealing with school registration, appointments, forms, money, and decisions had drained me emotionally. At the service station, I went to use the phone to answer a page while Danielle pumped the gas. When I jumped out of the car I locked the keys inside. That was the last straw. I walked toward the back of the station, sat down in a flower bed, and cried and cried. Poor Danielle! The men at the station were trying unsuccessfully to unlock the car while casting quick glances my way wondering if they had a crazy person on their hands. Meanwhile, Danielle was cool and calm. She called the automobile association and soon the mechanic arrived to unlock the door. By then I had gotten the storm out of my system and we went on to get her hormones - ironically, the same hormones I was struggling to keep under control. Although we had been told that hormones would not make immediate changes, she was still very anxious to get started. We have since had several good laughs about my sitting in the flowerbed at the gas station crying. The way she handled the stressful situation and a mother "on the edge" demonstrated her maturity.

We had to solve the problem of filling Danielle's empty bra. Teen girls pad with Kleenex, and there are prosthetics to use following a mastectomy, but Danielle needed something in between.  Even the bras with the most padding were not full enough to suit her. We tried several homemade remedies such as shoulder pads cut down to the right size, but Danielle had the feeling that people could tell because they didn't look real. She thought people were looking at her breasts everywhere she went.

What were others using full time and successfully? At my first meeting with the Neutral Corner support group, I asked two friendly persons how they padded their bras. They realized it was a very serious question, and gave me good information. The pads are called breast forms. There are several options on the market, and they each used a different kind. Since breast forms are expensive and not easy to find, they volunteered to meet with Danielle and show her the kind of undergarments they wore. These two people accepted my invitation for coffee later in the week.  One person came dressed as a very proper mature female, and the other in business attire with white shirt, tie, and his boobs in a box. The scene was so humorous to me, that I could hardly keep from giggling. Two grown men, one dressed as a woman and one as a business man showing what looked like a teenage girl the differences in fake breasts. But I knew this was a crucial matter.

One set of breast forms was silicone and looked much like a post-mastectomy breast prosthesis. It felt best to the touch. The other was a breast shaped pocket with little round bags filled with sand. The breast shape could be enlarged by adding more sandbags or made smaller by removing some of the little bags. We chose the second type, called "Bosom Buddies" because it appeared to be more durable which would probably be best for an active teenager. We learned how to purchase them at a cost of just over $100.00 a set.

When Danielle started wearing "Bosom Buddies" she still felt insecure as they seemed to move around. She was afraid they might come loose from her bra and become lodged where she did not want them. To solve that problem, I sewed snaps on the cloth outer pocket and placed snaps in her bra to match. These have worked satisfactorily for more than two years now. As the hormones kicked in and she grew small tender breasts of her own, she just took out some of the little sand bags. These were difficult to use for swimming because she only had one set and they required several hours to dry.

I will long remember and be grateful for the help that those two crossdressers gave us. It was comical, but most beneficial.  Danielle used tight girdle type underwear, sometimes two or three pair on top of each other to give her confidence that hidden parts would stay hidden. The term for this is tucking.  Hormones do help in keeping things under control as well.

Just before school started, the parents of a transsexual teen the same age as Danielle called to invite us to their home, but I went alone to protect Danielle from any unforeseen difficulty.

Laura and her parents showed a great interest in Danielle, and Laura was very much disappointed that Danielle had not accompanied me. Her mom and step-dad seemed pleased to talk with me as we discussed the way we had each raised our special child.  We agreed that there was no reason for us to feel guilty. Laura's mom had wanted a girl, but knew that simply wishing did not cause her son to be a girl. I had always been glad that I had boys.

As we talked, I learned that Laura's favorite movie was Cinderella, while Danielle's was Pretty Woman, both movies showing a woman taking on a new identity. Laura had tried to make her transition while attending her local high school, but when that proved to be unsuccessful she transferred to the same alternative program that Danielle would soon be starting. Since Laura did not do very well at that school either, she was doing home schooling. She was very frank in explaining the changes that hormones had made in her body - enlarged breasts, redistribution of fat, no erections. Luckily she had never had much facial hair.

It was reassuring to me to see her parents handling the situation with understanding. They made it all seem so easy. They were not involved in the transgendered community.

When I returned home and gave Laura's telephone number to Danielle, she immediately phoned her. They talked for hours that first day and they have been talking ever since. They shared clothes, makeup tips, and friends. Laura had a collection of Barbie dolls that kept them occupied. Laura had blond hair, a low sexy voice and looked like a movie star. And she liked to change the color and style of her hair weekly. She seemed to need more attention and excitement than Danielle, so she always knew where things were happening, and wanted to be there. She was more emotional than Danielle, and was quicker to tell people that she was transsexual, but didn't "out" Danielle - that is, didn't reveal that Danielle was also a transsexual. I sometimes wondered if Laura's influence was entirely good for Danielle, but thought perhaps Danielle was good for Laura. They formed a close bond because they shared a unique experience.  As soon as Danielle got her driver's license, she and Laura did something together every weekend. They explored the coffee shops in the gay-friendly part of town, but Danielle quickly tired of that because the men paid no attention to her. They also visited the nightclubs in Mexico where Danielle could flirt her way in with no identification.

I didn't see Laura's parents often, but we knew a lot about each other's teenager, and we knew where to call when they were late getting home. When Danielle was out too late, I just hoped she was having fun because she deserved some happiness. The girls spent many nights at the home of one or the other - that was their story anyway. I hoped that they wouldn't get in trouble with the law, because in our town there is a law against crossdressing during the committing of any other crime with the intent of fraud. Most jails will put pre-operative transsexuals with those of like genitalia, in other words both Danielle and Laura would have been put in with men.

Danielle never felt a need for the support groups with which I was involved, but she and Laura stopped by occasionally to humor me and show off how well they were doing. They enjoyed being told how cute they were.

I felt that Laura's parents had a tendency to spoil her, and realized that I did the same with Danielle. One instance was while we were shopping for jewelry for Danielle's prom. She liked a set that cost $80, and I had justified in my mind that she deserved the expensive jewelry. She then found a very similar set that cost only $20 which we bought. As we left, she said, 'Now we can spend the $60 we saved." We didn't, but I thought to myself, she is a true female. Life had dealt both Danielle and Laura a difficult hand, so as their parents, we wanted to do all we could to make it easier for them.

....

We had found an apartment that looked like a decent place to live near the new school, and started the moving process. We were good at moving because we did it so often.

But this move was different. I had to chuckle to myself when I realized my attitude toward my daughter had changed. In the past two moves since Ben and David had left, I had let my youngest teenage son carry heavy things, and take on the weighty tasks.  Now I kept wanting to tell my new teenage daughter to be careful when lifting heavy items, and I was willing to shoulder more of the load to spare her. Until then, I had been unaware of such gender-biased attitudes, but now they popped up once in a while.  Danielle, on the other hand, felt just as strong as ever, and was just as willing do her share and more to spare me the heaviest work. She wanted us to make the move by ourselves without any help from men. She had not adopted the attitude of a helpless, defenseless female, but rather wanted to be an independent woman.  I had prided myself on having this same attitude, but that day I would have gladly accepted help in moving.

Another instance of having to examine my attitude toward my new daughter was that I did not want her to drive in Mexico even though her brothers had at the same age.

As the first day of school neared, I was very apprehensive for Danielle. One of the reasons we chose this new school was because of its open campus policy so she could come home anytime she felt uncomfortable. She was still self-conscious, and she felt she had to come home at noon and shave. She wasn't self-conscious about her wardrobe however. She had all of the latest fashions and wearing these clothes helped boost her confidence. She was also very unsure of her voice. Since she has started hormones before a deep male voice evolved, she had a better chance of maintaining a more feminine voice. Her voice was at the lower range of female and to my ear, very acceptable, but a source of concern for Danielle.

At the end of that first day of school, I was very much relieved to learn that all had gone well for her. She was happy with the situation, and no one had guessed that she had attended school as a boy the year before. She had the option of using the nurse's restroom, but was afraid it would arouse attention, so she used the girl's restroom. If there was ever a problem, she took comfort in knowing that she could reach me through my pager at any time. Since I am self-employed, I make my own hours and can leave at a moment's notice. She tried not to worry me, but there were several occasions when I went home to be with her. She still needed frequent reassurance and hugs. The hormones seemed to cause a roller-coaster of emotions. Some days she just cried. I told her, "Sometimes women have crying days. It is called water build-up, and sometimes you just have to cry before you feel better."

She called me once when she came home early from a school dance because she had a zit on her nose. The next time she danced until they turned out the lights in a new dress she made for the occasion. I was glad that she was having the opportunity to be a girl - zits and all. She and I often went Country Western Dancing together and then, as she met other teens, she attended dances for teens only. When I picked her up one night after a dance, the adult chaperones told me they thought Danielle was a sweetheart and very mature. People often said that about her, and I always thought, " You have no idea." On the way home she told me of an ugly scene that occurred. "Some older girls were mimicking other kids and making fun of them," she said. "They kept pointing at me while I was dancing. I stopped and faced them and told them I was tired of them making fun of everyone. They called me names and asked me to go outside and fight. I told them I didn't want to fight. I was just tired of them making fun of me because they were jealous of how well I danced. Danielle felt she handled herself well, and thought the other girls made themselves look stupid. They left after making threats to harm her and even kill her. She explained to me, " Fifteen years of pent up anger at people making fun of me came to the surface and I took it all out on those two girls." I was proud of her and sad that her earlier life had been so hard.

....

My work took me out of town overnight twice a month. I used to leave Daniel alone, but now it was different leaving Danielle.  She assured me that she would be all right alone at night, but I wanted to be near to protect her. When I couldn't be there, I arranged for friends to come stay with her.

She had a great desire to have a girl's bed. I didn't know that beds had gender, but we went looking for a feminine bed. We found a single waterbed with a pretty headboard with mirrors and shelves. I had to admit that it did look as if it belonged in a girl's room. When we got it home, we struggled unsuccessfully to put it together, so we finally swallowed our pride and asked for help from a man. My sister's son, who is the same age as Danielle, sent her a pretty blown-glass bottle from a trip to Europe, which she put on this headboard. His gesture of love and acceptance meant a great deal to Danielle.

The first school year went quite smoothly, and she made amazing advances in her school studies. I was sure that I would have to help her with algebra, but she did it by herself from the beginning. Her English and writing improved, and she advanced by leaps and bounds in all her work. It was as if someone had turned on the lights. Things were suddenly making sense. The teachers were talking her language. Now she could think about school and learning instead of being overloaded by unexplained feelings and emotions.

One day I met some of Danielle's teachers in a coffee shop before school. They were very complimentary: they praised me for the way my daughter had been raised. When they told me what a good teenager she was, I had to bite my tongue. They never could have imagined the handicap with which Danielle was coping. It became a part of my life to accept the praise without revealing her secret.

I wanted everyone to share with me the joy and beauty of this new person, but Danielle didn't want everyone to know so I had to keep it to myself around her friends, her teachers and the neighborhood. The Neutral Corner support group was one place where I could share my feelings and pride in Danielle's accomplishments. They knew what a struggle it had been, and I knew they could keep secrets. I hoped my need to tell others would eventually fade - but it hasn't.

....

Physical Education had been a major concern when we were choosing a high school for Danielle. Counselor Hunter recommended that we have a family doctor write a medical reason such as a heart problem to get her excused. We have a doctor in our family who said he would be glad to do that for Danielle, but as it turned out we did not need to go that route. At the alternative school, students were not required to dress down for PE except to wear tennis shoes. As Danielle gained confidence in herself she even began to enjoy PE, a class that she had never liked before.

She once mentioned the Presidential Fitness testing program, "I am trying to do more than is required by the girls because I feel like I am cheating a little." She was still adjusting her thinking to accommodate this new gender - relating her performance to the previous male requirements, even though she looked like a female.

The second year she wanted to attend a mainstream school and be in regular PE classes, changing into PE clothes with other girls in the locker room. I wanted to save her from possible embarrassment or problems, but again I bit my tongue and let her attempt anything that she was brave enough to try. I did not want to slow her down, or make her paranoid because of my fears.  Thinking about another mother finding out about Danielle gave me nightmares. If the school district's policy had allowed her to substitute dance for PE, or not to take it at all, I would have been more comfortable. We decided that we could move to another part of town if she were discovered.

We asked about showers before making our final decision about tile Mainstream school. Showering for PE was optional, due to the parents of Eastern religions not allowing their sons and daughters to undress In front of anyone. This was one of the few religious rules that I ever thought made good sense. As far as I am concerned, it is a barbaric practice to have self-conscious teens, at different stages of puberty, undress in front of one another. Danielle wore a halter top over her bra, and her usual girdle type underwear to maintain modesty while she changed.

As the year progressed, she even joined the track and field team in an effort to maintain a healthy body. Again I worried about her competing against other schools because I feared someone might recognize her and object to her running on the girl's team.  She did her best, but due to the heavy doses of hormones, she would run out of steam before the end of a race. When I attended track meets, I listened as other mothers talked about the problems they had with their children, but I had to keep quiet about Danielle. I wanted to tell them how proud I was of my unique, amazing teenager, but I remained silent. Talking to a coach about Danielle seemed like a wise thing to do so he would not be blind-sided if any questions arose, but I didn't - and there were no problems.

Danielle noticed that some of the other girls on the track and field team had no more breasts than she did, but she wasn't convinced that she could go without her breast forms.

During two years of trial and error, we found several workable options for a transsexual student facing PE in high school. The district nurse told me that it was easy to be excused from PE in our school district. A student with a health problem, birth defect or other condition causing difficulty in social adjustment could obtain a mental health excuse. No one had volunteered this information to me when we started inquiring about PE. our district also gives PE credits to students who are doing another physical activity outside of school hours such as swimming or soccer.

Danielle was in a choir class during the second year of high school where the students learned both music and dance in preparation for a show they would put on at the end of the semester. The costume and shoes cost $60.00, and I reluctantly gave her the money.

When the costume arrived, Danielle was upset because the outfit for the girls was so skimpy. The neck was low cut to be worn off the shoulder, and the high cut legs were inadequately covered by a very short skirt. She could not wear her bra or girdle underwear with the outfit, and would feel altogether very uncomfortable. A few inches of material made a big difference in this setting.

I wondered about the judgment of the flaky male teacher who chose the inappropriate costume that definitely did not comply with school regulations. My first impulse was to make war with the school, but Danielle wanted to handle it herself by quitting the class without making waves. She did it her way, but later I did got my two cents in when other questions and concerns about this class arose.

Danielle had to meet some difficult situations, but she seemed to be adjusting well in school. Although she was so brave in some instances, this time she just wanted to walk away.

She showed a surprising maturity by knowing which fights to fight. She chose her wars wisely, differently from the way I chose to fight every battle that came along.

[Illustration - 'Daniel at 8 years'] [Illustration - 'Daniel at 14 years'] [Illustration - 'Danielle at 15 years'] [Illustration - 'Danielle at 19 years']


 
 
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