When you live with two psychology grad students you already find yourself being over analyzed.
Kelsey and Avery both looked for "hints" of my gender struggles in the past.
My favorite movie as a child was "Little Mermaid. And yes, I loved and wanted to be Ariel. I was always watching Kelsey's DVD of it.
"Only boy I know to wear an Ariel t-shirt," I heard Kelsey say to Avery. "He was really cute."
I had a few sessions with Dr. Broder, who told Kelsey that I showed very strong characteristics of having gender dysphoria. I don't think the term gender variation had taken off back then.
I was referred to a therapist named Dr. Amelia Van Zandt, who explored several possibilities, including fatigue from our family tragedy on 9/11 to adjusting to life with two twenty-something women.
"I want to check every possible avenue for Reagan's feelings before deciding on what course of action," I overheard Kelsey read Avery from an email from Dr. Van Zandt. "But I'm my opinion, Reagan is indeed transgendered, and we should look very seriously at transitioning, especially with the onset of puberty approaching."
"Wow!" Avery said.
"Wow, indeed," Kelsey said.
Life in general hadn't really changed.
We would have one more session with Dr. Van Zandt before "making a decision."
"You mean, you make a decision, Kelse," I said in the car on the way to Avery's parents for a weekend away from the city. "I want to be a girl. I am a girl!"
"Patience, sweety, this will mean a radical change for you," Avery said.
"I think my life has already been through a radical change, thank you very much!" I shouted, rather annoyed.
"Watch your attitude young.....," Kelsey said before catching herself.
"Go ahead, say it...young lady!" Avery said. "Reagan, stop your bitchin' "
The way Avery said it, all three of us burst into laughter as we pulled into the driveway.
Her parents' place was sort of our refuge from the City. We spent our holidays there.
Her folks became my "grandparents." Since Kelsey had Avery declared my co-guardian, I was just as much "her" kid as Kelsey's. So her parents considered me their first "grandchild."
Avery insisted I call them "Nana" and "Papa" even though they were only in their late 40s. And they doted on me and spoiled me about as much as Kelsey and Avery.
Our first Christmas at their place after 9/11, Avery and Kelsey insisted I pretend that I still believed in Santa Claus (They made me sit in Santa's lap at Macy's before we made the trip, of course they sat in Santa's lap too, asking for expensive stuff from their boyfriends just to be in good humor).
I put cookies and milk out for Santa and carrots for Rudolph that year. Kelsey bought me pink footed bunny rabbit pajamas like Ralphie wore during "A Christmas Story." I didn't get a Red Ryder BB gun that year, but I did get tons of video games.
I think pretending to believe in Santa that year was a way to keep Kelsey and I from dwelling on losing our parents. Avery and "Nana" and "Papa" Wilkes did a good job of keeping our spirits up.
They were that way every time we came up. Nana called me "Pumpkin" from day one. Now both of them call me that. And this trip was going to be an interesting one.
Avery told them about the possibilty that I was transgendered.
They were amazingly receptive, which didn't surprise Kelsey or Avery.
"They are what dad used to call Boston Kennedy liberals," Kelsey said.
They had a couple of transgendered friends. One once worked for Papa when they still lived in Boston.
"Oh my God, Pumpkin, you look more adorable every time you visit," Nana as she embraced me when I walked through the door. "We've got a big surprise for you."
"She bought Reagan a horse when we went to a stock sale the other day," PaPa whispered to Avery.
"Oh you guys are going to spoil Reagan even more than we do," Avery whispered back.
We sidestepped the issue that was on everyone's mind most of the night, until Nana asked how the therapy sessions were going.
I looked at Avery and Kelsey. They looked like they didn't know what to say.
"They're going OK," I told her after waiting for a response. "I like Doc Van Zandt a lot."
Papa, to his credit, sensed the awkwardness of the conversation and changed the subject. Although I wasn't really into sports, I did like baseball, and was a big Yankees fan. Being from Boston, he was, well, a Red Sox fan. I think it brought him pleasure to see me get huffed up about the rivalry.
Of course, I always put him in his place when I reminded him about the "Curse of the Bambino."
Papa could be pretty cool. He liked to take me fishing out at the dock, which is what we did the next morning. He was good to talk to. Whereas Nana called me "Pumpkin," he called me his fishing "Buddy."
He was easy to talk to. But still, I was surprised by his calm, reassuring reaction when I asked him if he'd still take me fishing when I became a girl.
"Avery has always been my fishing buddy," Papa said as he watched me skip a rock across the lake. "And girls can fish just like boys do."
He patted me on the head as we walked back up to the house, and told me I wasn't getting out of fishing duties that easily.
I saw Kelsey and Avery talking to Nana in the living room when I walked in. I didn't let them know I was there and walked straight into what had become my room. Sitting on my bed was a box of clothes marked "Avery." There were shorts, tops, most really near my size.
I found a purple tank top, a pair of shorts that were a bit snug and put them on. The yellow head band in the box was a bit too tempting not to put on, along with a necklace that was tucked in the corner of the box. I also put on a pair of sandals
I played videogames for a few minutes and then went into the kitchen for a snack. I couldn't help but eavesdrop into a conversation in what was Nana's sewing room.
"I haven't seen that dress in years," Avery told Kelsey. "Mom always made me wear that deplorable thing when we went to church when we went to the Hamptons."
"But you looked good in it," Nana said. "I got it out a couple of days ago and started work on it. I know you two are planning a weekend with just your boyfriends. So I thought we'd take Reagan to the Hamptons with us, and thought she'd need a good dress to wear at chapel."
"Mom, we been through all this, nothing's been decided about whether Reagan will actually start..." Avery said before Kelsey interrupted.
"Oh, I think it's a foregone conclusion," Kelsey said. "Anne, I think it's a nice gesture. I'm sure Reagan would love to wear it."
Avery elbowed Kelsey and whispered "and you were getting on me about jumping the gun."
Just then, I walked in and gave Nana a hug.
"What's that for, Pumpkin?" she asked.
"That's the nicest thing anyone's ever called me," I said, tearing up.
"What was that?" she asked.
"You called me a SHE," I said as a bit right into the apple I was munching on and walked out of the room.
"Did you notice what Reagan was wearing?" Kelsey said after I walked out.
"I wore the exact combination when I wore those clothes," Avery said. "Amazing how well they fit."
"Reagan looked ... looked," Kelsey said, looking for the right words to say.
"I think she looked adorable," Nana said.
"No I don't think that's what Kelsey's trying to say," Avery said.
"She looked like a girl," Kelsey said.
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