In my twenties, in graduate school, I thought a lot about my daughter. She didn’t exist yet, but when you’re studying fiction for a living, this doesn’t matter as much. I had long observed that being a girl in the world was tricky, but in graduate school for the first time I started to look critically at why and to consider what might be done about it. I started keeping a list of what a girl starting from scratch, my someday infant daughter, would need to know to help navigate and advocate from the get-go. They were things like this:

Being a girl is hard but awesome.

Girls are strong, smart, talented, and capable. You can do anything you want. Worlds sit at your doorstep. Adventure is your birthright. There are no paths barred to you just because you’re not a boy.

You are beautiful. Your body, your face, your hair, your skin: beautiful.

So is everyone else. Variations of shape, shade, size, texture? All beautiful.

It’s not your outside that counts anyway. It’s your intelligence, kindness, generosity, curiosity. It’s your strength, your willingness to fight, your insistence on standing up when standing up is what is called for.

I figured that about covered it. Probably more would come up, but that seemed like a good introductory document as far as imaginary daughters went. I was getting a head start after all. But you know what Robert Burns had to say about the best laid plans of mice, men, and graduate students. Years later when the time came, I had a boy instead.

The list is different for a son. He didn’t need me to tell him any of those things. The whole world was telling him he was awesome. The whole world thought he was beautiful, no matter his shape or size. He never imagined there would be things he couldn’t do just because he was male. And he was right. So I went ahead and worried about all the other, non gender-specific things parents worry about. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t swallow marbles or really anything you find on the floor of the playroom. The dog is not a ride-on toy. This sort of thing.

But another thing I was wrong about, another difference between imagined children and the real kind, is I had this notion that they were relatively static. The plans I made for my daughter seemed to me at the time to be for all time because I was imagining a daughter fixed in time. But that is not the way either time or children work. Which is why even after things didn’t go as planned, they didn’t go as planned. It is not surprising that the life I concocted at 23 for a not yet extant human did not turn out to apply. But the plot twists that came later were the ones I never saw coming.

One surprising thing that happened, slowly—another thing you don’t realize in your twenties: that sometimes plot twists happen unhurriedly while you’re not paying attention over the course of months and years rather than suddenly with the crashing of cymbals on penultimate pages—was that my son switched from shorts to skirts. He grew out his hair. He changed his name and pronouns. He became she instead. Another surprising thing that happened—also, probably, slowly—was Donald Trump became president of the country in which I was trying to raise my now-daughter, a small transgender human for whom my list seemed woefully and increasingly and heartbreakingly inadequate. My daughter-list was not designed for this sort of daughter. It was not designed for this sort of country. The game was much harder, far more rigged against us, than I’d even feared. We were gonna need a bigger list.

And so we undertook great change. To the topics I was used to addressing with my kid over breakfast—the advantages of remembering to bring home both gloves, the reasons coffee and cursing are allowed for adults but not for children, red or green grapes: discuss—we added gender issues and transgender issues. These are front and center for her, in the first place because they impact her life day to day, because they demand some decision-making and problem solving, but also because they feature prominently in her emerging sense of her own identity. That is, they are exciting, and she is nine and therefore naturally self-involved. But we talk about these, her issues, while also talking about race, immigration, refugees, class inequities, also her issues, and how all those frameworks overlap and fit together and fail to fit together.

I didn’t study intersectionality until graduate school, and I’d have guessed at the time that nine was too young to do identity politics over breakfast, but when my plans changed, so did my age restrictions. I stopped telling my daughter she was too young to read The Diary of Anne Frank. I took her to see The Breadwinner even though it is scary and upsetting and rated PG-13. The world is scary and upsetting, and it makes less sense to me than it did in the planning stages to try to protect her from that fact by hoping she doesn’t notice. She noticed.

In other ways, the change was much more simple, much more predictable. It was me. I am no longer a childless graduate student in my twenties. I am now a mother in my forties. The fierceness that comes with motherhood is beyond imagining from the other side. My point to my child was no longer be who you are. It was more like be who you are, and I will use my teeth to rip the face off anyone who stands in your way.

So it’s less that the list still applies and more that via hard fought, relentlessly fought, tooth-and-nail every day clawed-out persistence, I’ve insisted on it. No matter who’s in the White House. No matter what’s between her legs. When I tell her her body is beautiful just as it is, it means more than it used to, than it would for other girls. I don’t know what you will look like when you grow up, I now admit to her; for her, this question is both fraught and complicated, but this is also true for all parents of all nine-year-olds. Will you be taller than most of your girlfriends? Will your jaw and your eyebrows look different than theirs? Your shoulders and chest? Your legs and your belly? I don’t know. What I do know is this: Some of your girlfriends will be tall and some short. Some will be fat and some skinny. Some will have frizzy hair and some will have thick eyebrows and some will have giant breasts and some will have tiny ones. All will feel awkward about it. All will be beautiful. You will look different in some ways and the same in others. You will feel awkward about it. You will be beautiful.

And that’s just her outside. It has more layers than I predicted and still does not lay bare what matters most about her. What matters most about her, and matters more than ever, is the intelligence, kindness, generosity, and curiosity I promised in the first place, her strength and her willingness to fight. She has had to stand up earlier than I ever imagined she would and doing so has been made harder even in her short lifetime, but she has done it anyway. If bigotry and hatred have gotten louder of late, if they’ve been condoned, handed down, and indeed legislated by the highest condoning, handing down, and legislating bodies in the land, we must note that we are not alone, that in fact we are legion, that we stand taller, that we do so on the side of goodness and rightness.

Or maybe it is just as simple as this: Being a transgirl is being a girl. So it is also hard, and it is also awesome.

Graduate school in my twenties wasn’t trying to teach me how to parent, and it wasn’t trying to teach me how to survive in times of political darkness, but the list I made there and then serves pretty well, in spite of the unexpected and unimagined. Feminist theory and cultural theory and gender theory and queer theory and race theory and, hell, literary theory turn out to be surprisingly good real-life theory. And there’s also this, which even my ever-changing nine-year-old knows: Very little goes as expected, but seldom is that a disaster. Very little stays the same, but we are built to weather change. You cannot keep us down if we will not stay down, and we will not. We guess wrong about so much, but in the end, comparatively speaking, we’re not so wrong after all.

The first openly transgender person has signed up to join the U.S. military since federal courts ruled against President Donald Trump’s ban of trans military personnel last year, CNN reported on Monday.  

“The Department of Defense confirms that as of Feb. 23, 2018, there is one transgender individual under contract for service in the U.S. military,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. David Eastburn told CNN. The recruit has signed a contract but, according to ABC, the recruit won’t begin basic training for another few months. 

The news comes as Trump is still reportedly debating how the Department of Defense will handle the military service of transgender people.  

In July 2017, Trump announced that transgender recruits would no longer be allowed to serve in the military. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming ... victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump tweeted. 

The announcement was a shocking reversal of an Obama-era policy that allowed openly transgender people to serve in the military. Trump’s declaration had the potential to affect thousands of transgender troops already serving and came as a surprise to many. It triggered outrage around the country, with many questioning if the ban was legal. The announcement also surprised Defense Secretary James Mattis who was on vacation at the time

Trump issued a memorandum in August detailing his policy change, which was set to take effect by March 23, 2018. The Pentagon was forced to allow openly transgender troops to sign up on Jan. 1 after several federal courts ruled against Trump’s ban

Mattis, who had been instructed to come up with an implementation plan for Trump’s decision, presented his recommendations on transgender recruits to Trump last week. 

“The Secretary of Defense made his recommendation to the White House this morning,” Eastburn told HuffPost on Friday. “The recommendation was a private conversation between the secretary and the White House, and the contents of the conversation will remain private.”

Reports last week suggested Mattis would recommend that Trump allow transgender troops to continue to serve.

A 2016 Rand Corp. study estimated that there are as many as 10,000 transgender troops currently in the military. 

Mack Beggs has captured his second straight state wrestling title.

And once again his state gold medal ceremony included a mix of cheers and jeers from the crowd.

On Saturday at the Berry Center in Cypress, Texas, the transgender male wrestler capped a perfect 36-0 season by claiming his second straight UIL girls Class 6A state title in the 110-pound weight class by decision, 15-3, against Chelsea Sanchez of Katy Morton Ranch High School.

Last season, Beggs also defeated Sanchez, 12-1, in the girls Class 6A championship last year. As a junior. He finished with a perfect 56-0 record.

When he won that title roughly a year ago, his victory was greeted with a smattering of boos, but those were quickly drowned out by cheers. Ones which grew louder when Trinity coach Travis Clark put the gold medal around Beggs’ neck.

A few years ago, Beggs began his transition from female to male. To help with the process, Beggs underwent low-level shots of testosterone. According to the UIL, since the testosterone comes from a physician, it is not considered a banned substance.

Beggs has previously stated he’d prefer to compete in the boys division, but UIL rules mandate participants must compete against the gender that appears on their birth certificate.

Still, Coppell lawyer Jim Baudhuin filed a lawsuit against the UIL, which was eventually dismissed by a Travis County Judge.

Before falling to Beggs in the semifinals, Cypress Ranch High School's Kayla Fits, actuallytold the Dallas Morning News that she was going to take his title.

Beggs dominated the girls Class 6A Region II tournament last weekend at Allen High School.At that tournament, near-dozen opposing wrestlers, coaches, fans or parents refused to share any opinions about Beggs.Once he'd claimed the regional title, the defending state champion discussed his potential plans wrestle at the collegiate level in the men's division.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has made his recommendations to the White House on transgender individuals serving in the military, the Pentagon said on Friday, after President Donald Trump’s call last year for a ban on such service

Major David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said the recommendations had been made earlier on Friday and the White House would make any policy decisions.

The Pentagon did not give details on the recommendations, but the top U.S. general has said transgender troops should not be removed from the military.

Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, last year said that he has urged the Trump administration not to kick transgender service members out of the military.

In September, the Pentagon said it had created a panel of senior officials to study how to implement a directive by Trump to prohibit transgender individuals from serving.

In a move that appealed to his hard-line conservative supporters, Trump announced in July that he would prohibit transgender people from serving in the military, reversing former President Barack Obama’s policy of accepting them. Trump said on Twitter at the time that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

As a presidential candidate, Trump vowed to fight for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. His tweet drew condemnation from rights groups and some lawmakers in both parties as politically motivated discrimination.

Critics of Trump’s ban pointed to a Rand Corporation study that estimated annual transgender healthcare accounted for only $2.4 million to $8.4 million of the more than $50 billion in Defense Department healthcare spending.

But it was also praised by conservative activists and some of his fellow Republicans.

A number of federal judges - in Baltimore, Washington, Seattle and Riverside, California - issued rulings blocking Trump’s ban. The judges said the ban would likely violate the right under the U.S. Constitution to equal protection under the law.

Late last year transgender people were allowed for the first time to enlist in the U.S. military, after the Trump administration decided not to appeal rulings that blocked his transgender ban.

Military officials do not know how many transgender people have begun to enlist since Jan. 1, when the Defense Department began accepting openly transgender recruits. But advocates said they believe dozens, if not hundreds, of transgender people will seek to join an estimated 4,000 already serving.

 

Today, a group was calling for action over Celine Walker, a transgender woman murdered earlier this month. Dozens came together outside the Capitol Sunday in support of 36-year old Celine Walker. 

Walker was shot in a Jacksonville hotel room on February 4th. Her friends say they know it was a hate crime.The national center for transgender equality states, she is the fourth known transgender homicide victim reported in the U.S. this year.

Dr. Petra Doan, an FSU Professor, says,"Trans people are not just murdered randomly, we're murdered 99 times out of 100 because someone figured out that we were trans and was upset about it."

 When the Jacksonville Sheriffs office reported the incident, they got Walker's name and gender wrong. She was listed with her birth name and gender, a way she chose not to identify herself. A week passed before walker's friends even knew what happened.

The Tallahassee transgender community says, Walker is one of many hate crime victims. Not only is the group mourning at Sunday's vigil, they're also fighting for change. Currently, Florida's hate crime reporting act doesn't include gender identity and physical disability. Walker was not recognized as transgender in her death report and the Tallahassee transgender community wants to change that.

Lakey Love, Equality Florida Transaction Training Coordinator, says, "We want to support the disability rights act. People have put together a legislation to include gender and gender identity and physical disabilities in the state hate crimes reporting act. " National statistics document at least 28 hate crime-related deaths toward transgender people nationwide in 2017, making it the highest on record. The group attending Walker's vigil wants to protect the transgender community from future hate crimes with the new bill.

 

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