I was recently talking with my mom about a woman she’s become friendly with as part of a group she goes to for parents with trans kids. We’ll call her Susan. (I have no idea what her real name is, but I get tired of saying “this woman” over and over again.) Susan has two children: a son – lets say Ben – and a child – lets go with the gender-neutral Casey – who keeps insisting that she’s a girl, even though she was assigned ‘boy’ at birth. Both of her kids are pretty young, definitely not yet in highschool, and Susan has been trying to understand Casey but having a hard time. She was apparently retelling a conversation she’d had recently with her children, in which she had asked Casey, “But why do you like the color pink, playing with dolls, wearing dresses, and don’t want to be called a boy?”
Casey replied, “I just think I want to be a girl.”
Now, from what I’ve heard from my mom, Susan has been trying hard to help Casey be happy, but she is still having a hard time accepting that the child she thought was a son might really be a daughter. Indeed, Susan was holding this response, and specifically the words “I think I want,” as evidence to my mom that Casey wasn’t sure what she wanted. That there was still hope Casey would change her mind and realize she was really a boy.
My mom, in turn, was asking me what I thought.
Obviously I’m not inside Casey’s head. And, as someone who is a decade and a half older than Casey, it’s hard for me to say that anyone can know what they want when they’re 10. But I distinctly remember using the same language in my mind, and even when I came out to my parents. And the use of “I think I want” wasn’t because of any uncertainty of my desire, it was because of my fear of failure.