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This American Life

January 22, 2010

Is anyone as addicted to this radio show as I am? It’s just so smart and sweet and interesting. Every week they pick a theme and present a variety of stories on that theme. It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, but not always. This week’s theme was Somewhere Out There: “Of all the 6 and a half billion people in the world, what are the odds that any two people are a real match? Stories from people who know they’ve beat the odds.” You should listen to the whole episode, but Act Two is about two transgender girls, Lily and Thomasina, who meet at 8 years old and finally find someone who understands them.

best friends

I wouldn’t say their depiction of transgenderism was perfect, but I didn’t notice any glaring errors. A lot of it is the parents talking about their experiences, and you can hear them struggling to do their best for their children. One of the dads has difficulty using the pronoun “she” and admits that if it were another child, he would think the kid was just acting out. But he can accept that this is really who “our child” is. Another mother decides to send a letter out to the neighborhood to alert the other parents that her daughter would be entering school this year as a girl. While she thought this would make things easier, it actually amounted to a lot of bullying and blackmailing for her daughter. The parents all seemed to love and accept their children, but it was interesting to hear about them navigating a terrain rarely covered in parenting books. I would be curious to hear the perspective of transgender men and women on how they think parents can best support and encourage their children.

You can listen here, if nothing else for how cute the girls are when they talk about finding a best friend.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. nome permalink
    January 22, 2010 9:29 PM

    I caught 10 minutes of this episode randomly and the guy describing the situation mis-pronouned her repeatedly during the intro. :s

  2. happybodies permalink
    January 22, 2010 9:55 PM

    Hmm… well it’s Mary Beth Kirchner who reports the story, I think the only person who mis-pronouns the girls is the one father, who explains why it’s difficult for him – and I think it was valuable to hear why he thought did so. I did have a bit of a problem with the fact that the story was called “Tom girls.”

  3. nome permalink
    January 22, 2010 9:56 PM

    Hrm, then perhaps I’m thinking about a different thing but I distinctly remember them referring to “*him* having problems with *his* body growing up.”

    And, ya, that title is off for sureidly.

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