Going back to school was exciting. Starting the year with her new name and presenting as her true self was a big step. It wasn’t long before reality set in though. We were fully prepared for there to be some backlash from parents. We knew the kids would be great, and they really have been. One parent decided to take to community social pages to express her outrage over the school “telling [her] how to raise [her] child” when a letter went home explaining that the school counselor would be talking to the 2nd graders about gender. While her outrage hurt, what I found for the most part, was support. People we didn’t know were defending our family and our friends stepped up to the plate, too. This woman ended up keeping her kid home from school the next day, which is a real shame because her son was left out of a great conversation and an opportunity to learn and grow with his peers.
A few days after the social media outrage whithered away, a mom who I know from dance approached me and told me she might know someone who could help. She’s an attorney and knew someone who would be interested in a precedent-setting case like ours. Right now, there isn’t any New Jersey case law to look to for guidance in our situation. On appeal, this is great for a firm to have their name on because it could be used in decisions for years to come. I was grateful that someone finally had a legal connection for us.
I got in touch with this mom’s recommendation and the attorney agreed to meet with me and to wave the usual $450 consultation fee. I was worried that I was going to be told I had completely blown it. Instead, I heard a lot of good feedback. But I also heard that I had been pushed around. This attorney believed that our previous judge had made a couple of really faulty decisions that would have been overturned on appeal. I didn’t know. He gave me some pointers and I was grateful for the vote of confidence.
All these good things, there has to be something wrong, right? Right. Not even two weeks into the school year I met with the school counselor who informed me that XN was back. He hadn’t said anything about gender for a while, and while he wasn’t being supportive I thought maybe he had given up or thought he’d won so could stop with the assaults. Nope. We learned that XN had contacted the superintendent and threatened legal action against the school district. He claimed his crazy ex-wife was forcing his son to dress like a girl and that the school is causing psychological damage by allowing it. To support his claim, he provided a report from a “psychologist.” Who, whoa, whoa. What?
There are so many things wrong with this scenario:
- This child is not YOUR anything;
- She is NO ONE’S son;
- You took my child to a REHABILITATION COUNSELOR?!?!
Yes, XN took my child to a rehabilitation counselor. While I immediately assumed that he took her to a conversion therapist, it turns out a friend of his father did him a favor. This person specializes in career placement, but sure, why not have her write you a phony statement about child gender variance. It is clearly her specialty.
So no, XN has not forgotten about any of this. Quite the opposite. Luckily, our state’s laws protect our girl from this nonsense, while she is at school. The school knows it is doing the right thing and the Board of Ed attorney has made sure that they are acting in compliance with the law. XN got his “psychologist” friend on the phone with the school counselor who called out this woman’s bullshit. We are SO lucky to have this school administration that is fighting admirably for our child’s right to autonomy and happiness. The “psychologist” seemed quite surprised when the school counselor said she wasn’t surprised our girl presented as a boy when this person met her once. In the school counselor’s words, “I don’t think she feels 100% supported.” The “psychologist” said, “I guess we’ll see each other in court then.” Sure, why not.
We know exactly where this goes. And I am ready. I have never felt more confident that this will be over soon. It may take longer than we like, but he is digging his hole. In the meantime, our sweet, brave girl has to step back into her boy box twice a week. She endures humiliation on Monday morning’s when XN takes her to school in boy clothes and deadnames her in front of her friends. She feels the pain when he takes her and cuts her hair. But we are here. We love our daughter more each day and are amazed by the strength and resilience she continues to show. She is happier than she has ever been and she sees right through XN’s nonsense. She knows where she is loved, where she belongs, her whole, authentic self.