“Is your child trans?”
Greenbelt is a good place to camp. I have got chatting with lots of people around the site, as if it were a party, and we can get quite deep quickly. Now I chat to Sandra in the next tent, who is a teacher, and we talk of difficulties pronouncing names from other languages. Conversation meanders, and she reveals her “child” is also here, just camping up there. Use of the nongendered word is a bit odd, so I asked that question.
Getting the new name hurt. Sandra says you have to mourn your child. The name is Ezra, so the child is either nonbinary or binary trans, but Sandra insists on using female pronouns. I asked her, could she refer to her child (I did not use the name Ezra) as “they”? No, she felt the need to use female pronouns. “She’s still exploring! She was wearing a dress the other day!”
Well, it was hot and sunny, perfect weather for a dress. And why ever not? You can be nonbinary and mostly one, but still a little of the other. But Ezra chose his/their name when they were twelve, eight years ago, so you have had time to mourn.
“You’re not in one of those horrible ‘concerned parents’ groups, are you?” No, she’s not. That’s a mercy. However, she is still concerned for her child, a little resistant, and concerned about her own loss. Ezra is going into their second year at Uni, though that’s been a nightmare too, what with Covid.
Ezra comes over and chats for a bit, and I feel unable to say “Hello, Ezra” because they/he will know their mum has been talking about them, and I can’t ask Sandra to introduce him for fear she’ll use the wrong name. It’s embarrassing.
I go off to the loo. Camping, you need much more food. Talking to Sandra, I can be caring- for Sandra as well as Ezra. It is not my place to tell her off, and would probably do little good. Encouraging her, rather than shaming her, to accept her child is more likely to work. And now I feel upset. Sandra talks to the trans person, and feels quite happy to go all Poor Me. I have done a caring thing, for both of them, and now I feel my own needs.
We’re packing up. I go to say goodbye to Ann and John, and break off because I have to say something to Sandra. I go over to her in a rush. “I’m so much happier, now, transitioned,” I say. She does not look reassured. Possibly she sees how old my clothes look. Well, I am camping, there will be sweat and mud, and still.
I explain to Ann and John why I dashed off so suddenly. “She’s not gone to Mermaids or Gendered Intelligence, then,” says John. You know about this! Well, Ann is a teacher too, and has had trans or questioning pupils. We help with each others’ tents, and then go off for a cup of tea before leaving. At the Tiny Tea Tent we meet another couple, and talk of our experiences of churches. Margaret was brought up Catholic, and has a great burden of guilt and shame round that, so has found another church. She likes churches which do not emphasise Hell. John says he always remembers hearing of a boundaried model of church, you’re one of us or you’re not, and a centred model of church: Jesus is the centre, and we are either moving towards or away from that centre. What matters is the direction, not the distance from the centre, which no-one can tell anyway.
I enjoyed the Out at Greenbelt service, worshipping with LGBT folk, only about twenty of us in a tent together.