by Alaina Beaulaurier
“You are beautiful.” I assert this while clinging onto Marcie’s shoulders. I could feel her back tighten as she looked in the mirror. “Say it with me,” I urge her. “You are so beautiful.”
Marcie remains silent, but I can see a faint smile starting to form. I am familiar with the eye rolls, yet the makeup was still something that I was getting used to. We stand in front of a full-length mirror tacked to the back of the bathroom door. The walls are painted baby blue, and the shower curtain has little rubber ducks floating in a picturesque bubble bath. It has been a long time since I have given my daughter a bubble bath in that tub.
Marcie looks down at the black skinny jeans reflected in the mirror. “Mom,” she lets out in a small sigh. “I don’t know if I can pull this off.”
I could feel my heart ache. Marcie had always been uncomfortable in her body. The little girl trapped in a boy’s figure as a child tugged at the race car t-shirts. She had always grown out her long brown hair, only to come home crying when kids at school called her gay. When she hit puberty, her discomfort only got worse. On the first day of high school, she wore pink Converse with her saggy blue jeans. That was a victory. She came home with a smile on her face that screamed This is who I am. All I have ever wanted is for Marcie to be comfortable as herself and in her own body.
“You are beautiful,” I say again. I might have said this phrase a thousand times, but I refuse to stop repeating it until she starts to believe it herself. “Those jeans are fabulous. You are beautiful no matter what you are wearing.”
“Thanks, Mom.” Marcie shrugged me off and continued to get ready for school. My footsteps slowly fell away from the bathroom door. I could feel a rush of anxiety prickle my skin. Fear and anxiety have become everyday acquaintances for me. I have grown used to their presence creeping after my every thought over the last few years. When she changed her name from Tucker to Marcie, when she came home crying because her best friend no longer wanted to be seen with her, even when she told me she wanted to try on a dress for the first time, I could feel my stomach twisting in knots. It isn’t that I’m scared of who she is becoming; I’m scared because of the way the world treats people who are different.
I started reading every book about parenting a transgender child. I searched for a child therapist with an LGBTQ+ specialization. I even bought coloring books that depicted trans teens so that Marcie could see herself normalized. Still, I can’t get rid of this fear. I want so badly for her to feel comfortable in her own skin, and yet I can’t stop the anxiety from showing on my face when she walks through the doorway in her pink Converse and black eyeliner.
I felt warm arms wrap around me in the hallway. Just as quickly as the hug had started, Marcie was on her way out the door. “You’re beautiful, too,” Marcie said quietly.
And in a flash of pink, she was out the door.
*This is a work of fiction. Although this text is heavily inspired by the stories told from significant others, friends, family, and allies associated with Out Boulder, any names, characters, or places represented in this text are a product of the author’s imagination.