22 May 2012

My Queer Conversation With a Ninety-Year-Old

A conversation I had today reminded me yet again that age is not necessarily a good predictor of open-mindedness and compassion.

First, a bit of background. I met Luanne, a ninety-year-old woman, through a friend. This summer I am planting and maintaining Luanne's large vegetable garden and flower beds along with another friend of mine, Ana.

Today it was just me and my little boy, Jacob, weeding at the garden. Luanne opened her back door to say hello. I chatted with her for a few minutes and we both enjoyed watching Jacob crawling on the lawn. And then came the question: "Who is the baby's mother? Is it Ana?"

purple flowers
"No, he's my baby. Ana is my friend."

'"But who is his mother?"

"Ummm, well, my partner... well, we're a gay couple." I blurted it out and then looked at her, waiting.



"You mean, your wife is a man?"

"Yessss..." Close enough.

"So where did you get the baby from?"

I'd really been hoping she'd stop at gay. I couldn't bring myself to lie to her either though. "That's a bit complicated." I hesitated.

"Oh, I hope you don't mind my asking. It's not too personal, is it?"

"I hope you don't mind hearing the answer." I paused and looked at her. She looked back inquisitively. Ok, fine. "I'm transgender. I was born female but I transitioned to male. Have you heard of that before Luanne?"

"Well, on TV, yes, I suppose so."

"Ok, so, I took testosterone to transition, and had a chest surgery. But when my partner and I got together we decided we'd really like to have a family. We thought about adopting, but realized it might take a very long time. So, I talked to my doctors about it and asked if it would be safe for me to carry a child [I always emphasize the doctor/safety part of the story, especially around potential skeptics], and they said to stop taking the testosterone and it should be fine. I got pregnant, and had the baby. He's our biological child."

"Oh, wow, I've never heard of such a thing."

"It's a bit unusual, isn't it?"

"Well, as long as you have a baby, that's what's important."

I left the breastfeeding and milk sharing discussion for another time... And then we went back to talking about the geraniums. She didn't want white ones after all because they apparently turn brown when they get rained on. Too bad Ana probably already bought them this morning, following yesterday's instructions.

If Luanne, at ninety, born in 1922, can get all this, and simply be happy that we have a baby (and that we've pulled out an awful lot of grass and dandelions the last few days), what is anybody else's excuse?