My head

The story about the story about the girl that wants to be a boy.

February 9, 2014

sunrise over the bay

I first started this blog because I felt like I was in danger of disappearing into the quagmire of motherhood.

I felt as though my creativity was waning and I was becoming a mum-bot with nothing going on for except her household and her kid… which became a plural and turned into kids, and the quagmire got deeper.

There was no great plan as some bloggers have, but on a whim after some friend’s suggested it one day I just sat down and started to write.

That was two not quite two years ago.

I did not become an overnight internet sensation. Far from it… But there have been a few little things that have come out of this journey of self discovery, blatant self-indulgence, self-promotion and humour.

One of the biggest things I’ve discovered is this girl can write. I can connect with people through words, sometimes better in writing than in person where I can be awkward or say too much.

I’ve always been passionate about food, but I’m also intensely passionate about humans.

Not for spectacle’s sake, but for humans being human.

Each and every single person has a unique, interesting and magnificent story. Some more than others, but everyone is complex and amazing.

I have this friend. She’s eight. I’ve known and loved her from the time her mum told me she was pregnant, and I’ve seen her grow from a cute, button-nosed baby into cheeky button-nosed almost tween.

She’s awesome. Cheeky, confident, sometimes too much of both but she’s a good kid.

A loving kid.

She’s a right tomboy. Always has been. Never thought much of it, because she’s just her.

My little friend.

Bubble Bum I call her. She used to laugh but now she hates it.

Won’t stop me.

I was quaffing chilli margaritas with her Mum over a pizza the other night when her Mum told me that her daughter wants to be a boy.

Like, proper.

The school principal suggested two years ago that they start looking into gender dysphoria because he believes this is not just a case of a tomboy.

We kind of knew that, but as I said never thought much of it.

Other people often do think much of it and my little friend’s Mum has been the butt of great judgment. So, after those chilli margaritas slid down so easily we decided we’d write their story and get it out there.

Awareness is everything, and these guys were keen to say loud and proud –

We are who we are. Accept your children and love your children and support each other as a community.

In a nut shell.

I pitched it around in a few different forms and it was picked up by a large publication.

It was written, edited, rewritten. The photographer traveled to my friend’s place and took their photos.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

The father was not consulted on the matter. My friend is the sole carer and sole provider so she was my only contact. The ins and outs of that are not relevant here, but what is relevant is when he did find out about it he did not want the story to be written.

He made some strong arguments, and he made those arguments strongly… including threatening legal action against myself and the publication.

The editor thought the story would be stronger with real names and images, and the father absolutely refused.

The story was pretty well canned.

Ultimately, I see both parents’ point of view. This isn’t about who’s wrong or who’s right, they both have a good point.

One intelligent human being wishes to create an awareness of a situation that should not be seen as shameful and bring a greater understanding to the community, and the other intelligent human being wants to protect his eight year old daughter from judgement from people who may not be as open-minded or accepting as one would hope.

In chess it would be a stale mate. As for a writing debut, it was killed….

We decided the editor may as well just look at it just to see how it had ended up as a piece, and it currently looks as though it will go ahead with pseudonyms and no images of the little one. This meets the father’s wishes although Mother and Child would still like to go public.

Personally, I’ve been so excited, and then so disappointed by this thing that I’ve learned that until I see something in print it’s not a sure thing.

I’m telling you this because my Facebook community requested the story about the story. I’m not telling you this for you to pick a side, because ultimately it’s worked out precisely the way I wanted.

I wished for anonymity for my little friend all along. She didn’t want anonymity for herself, but she is young to make such a call.

Someone recently asked me on my Facebook page why all the wacky shit that could happen always happens to me and I don’t have an answer for that, but I will say this for myself –

My life is anything but beige.

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  • Reply mummywifeme February 9, 2014 at 7:41 am

    What a rollercoaster of emotions for you. I really hope it does end up getting published in some form. And congrats to you for finding your voice and self again. That’s the reason I started blogging too.

  • Reply Nina February 9, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Best of luck to your little friend and her parents! It’s totally a taboo topic, and even for someone like me who would support my kid no matter what, it’s still an uphill struggle facing judgment, or wishing it away, or hoping for easier times. It’s definitely not for the weak.

    I hope that in years’ time these sorts of topics won’t be so taboo. They’ll be normal as any other issue can be. In due time…

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys February 9, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      I agree, Nina. It’s a hell of a thing for them to want to go public with, and quite a polarising subject it seems.
      May we all accept each other with open hearts and minds sooner rather than later.

  • Reply ksbeth February 9, 2014 at 9:58 am

    aw, i am so sad to read this. stories about real people and the challenges they encounter while trying to be true to themselves, (children included) need to be told. the less fear people have, of situations which may be different from their own, the less hate and judgement there will be about others who are not like them but equally valuable as people. i feel for everyone involved and may this child find their way )

  • Reply ChrisHarris February 9, 2014 at 10:10 am

    From the perspective of a layman on this subject, I’d suggest that exposing someone so young to the process of media/publication scrutiny and all that it brings, cannot be healthy. It’s difficult for most adults to deal with media let alone innocent children.
    I’d suggest this is largely a private matter between the parents and to suggest anonymity satisfies both parties is incorrect, it only takes a little PR for the media to latch on to the story and bring the mother and child into the public eye.
    This reads like a dogmatic writer wanting her way, a mother ignoring the protection of her child and a concerned father with all the right intentions.
    I would urge the writer and publisher to hold back..and think about the child involved as it’s their rights and life that should be considered before profit and fame.

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys February 9, 2014 at 11:23 am

      Chris, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m always open to discuss what I’ve written, and the www is open to public opinion.
      I agree with you to a point. I’m very happy with the anonymity being in place. I don’t feel names or images are a necessary part of the tale.
      I would like to say however, profit and fame do not exactly enter into this as that is really not a motivation, nor a likelihood.
      It’s about awareness of an issue that may be affecting other families that aren’t coping with it, or do not know what to do. It’s about a mother wanting people to understand her situation and story, and that does not make her careless for her child’s protection.
      I’m anything but dogmatic but I respect your opinion.

      • Reply Chris Harris February 9, 2014 at 1:06 pm

        I see that there’s more than enough literature on this issue, from medical and other professionals, anyone seeking the right information has access to it. It’s probably not the right idea to write about such an important issue when its a layman view and without it being condoned by a professional. All Im saying is without both parents condoning it – its an issue – with such a young child involved – its an issue – without thinking about the long term damage this child will have to deal with when YOU can avoid it – its an issue.
        I chatted to a few people this morning and whilst we all agree that those in need should have access to professional advice, its hardly a layman subject to be entered into. I’d suggest you may want to hold off on this and direct your talents to a less risky area to engage your writing skills.

        • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys February 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm

          It’s an interview Chris….merely someone’s experience. I’m not offering opinion, advice, or medical suggestions.
          This post is not a press release, it is a blog post, about my experience whilst writing this story that my friends asked me to write on their behalf.
          Your passion on the subject is great. I don’t feel the need to defend myself or talents to you further.

  • Reply marian simms February 9, 2014 at 10:27 am

    A father is well within his rights to shield this child. After a life career in media and a parent I agree to this being halted. The story is enough, images and names published can NEVER be undone. This child can make their own journal in time, what ever this child’s story evolves into. An 8 year old is not mature enough to understand the machinations of a media profile. Story telling can be very powerful I wish you well on your journey. There is plenty of material that is right out in the open that is hugely in need of attention.

  • Reply coloursofsunset February 10, 2014 at 8:13 am

    I have a friend whose daughter is the same. This friend of mine, he is an amazing dad, full of love and support for his “son” as he now calls him, because that’s what he wants to be called. He wears the boys uniform at school – a Christian school no less! – as they have been supportive also. He has permission to use the handicap toilets as he was uncomfortable in the girls, but the school thought using the boys was going a bit too far. My friend has looked into getting the drugs to stop the hormones – the child is 12. They have to act fast, but need a court ruling (?!) which could take up to 2 years. I don’t know how I would react if my son came to me and said he wanted to be a girl – when he told me at 4 years old that he was never getting married because he didn’t have a dress to wear I thought I might have to consider it happening! – but I hope that if he does, I will be like our friends, who are unwavering in their love for their children. x Aroha

    • Reply Keeping Up With The Holsbys February 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      What a great story, Aroha. I love hearing how communities and schools are supportive of young people trying to come to terms with their gender identity. The more people talk about it, the less taboo it will be.
      I think you’re an awesome mama bear, so I have no doubt whatever curly ones will come your way you will handle with grace, wisdom and love.

  • Reply Have a laugh on me February 11, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Thanks for sharing the story behind the story. While I’m sure your friend’s child has a lot to face in he coming years it’s fortunate there are great people like you to support the family! Your writing does speak volumes D x

  • Reply Zanni Arnot February 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing…I was definitely curious. And I like how you acknowledge the complexity of the situation, from all sides. Looking forward to seeing your name in print, Lady. x

  • Reply The big mouth that kicked the hornet’s nest. | Keeping Up With The Holsbys February 14, 2014 at 7:30 am

    […] It has been suggested that I am self-serving and selfish and I’m exploiting a young girl. […]

  • Reply Cassie February 14, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I hope your story gets published in whatever form the final piece takes. I can’t wait to read it. I hope you little friend finds peace and the people who deem themselves suitable to judge others accept that their ignorance makes them scared and their feelings are more about themselves than the person they are judging.

    And Mrs H – you my love, are anything but beige and that’s what makes your writing so colourful, insightful and interesting.

    The sign of a successful writer is to be able to keep people interested and reading on, regardless of whether they agree with you or not. Keep it up! I love your blog posts and I don’t agree with everything you say by a long shot.

  • Reply Vanessa Beattie (@BabblingBandit) February 14, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Wow. Big story. I think I can see where everyone is coming from but agree that the story should be told with anonymity for the young child’s sake.

    The argument made earlier that the story shouldn’t be told at all because there is plenty of medical research/professional advice available is rubbish. Like you said it is an interview, not medical advice that you have written. Reading real life stories like this (done respectfully as I’m sure your story has been written) are often what helps people in these situations or other taboo situations much more than reading clinical research.

    That is one of the reasons why I love the Web. All the stories. I write honestly about my addictions, mental illness, being a victim of rape, etc because I want to tell others that they are not alone. I use my real name on my blog and own my own story because I want to help break the stigma of the things that I’ve been through. Coming out of the closet, so to speak, is the only way we can do this.

    Restricting “taboo” topics to the medical journals and the doctor’s office is not going to do anything to help break stigma.

    Good on you and good on the brave family who want their story told.


  • Reply Under My Skin – Keeping Up With the Holsbys May 10, 2016 at 7:22 am

    […] don’t talk much about my work, and I’ve only ever once told you the story behind the story before, but sometimes I need to say stuff in order for words to be able to come freely once […]

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