Catherine Newman’s son explained he was actually a boy, but the guy still proceeded to call him an “it”.
I just want to start by applauding your decision to shout at us right off the bat. “She was in the men’s room! Your daughter was in the men’s room! A girl in the men’s room!” For one thing, how else will we learn? For another, how else will we be covered in spittle? Plus, I think it’s good, if you see something unexpected, to proceed with violent certainty rather than with, say, wonder or even doubt. Like the time I found that slightly darker O in my bowl of Cheerios and freaked out because I knew for sure that it was a wheel from the landing gear of a miniature UFO that was going to abduct me and probe my anus; if it were cereal, it would look like the rest of the cereal. Likewise, if you see a doll with short hair, even if it’s lying next to a pair of scissors, you should think, “Ew. When did Ken’s boobs get so big?”
It made sense, too, to continue to insist that he was a girl, even after he calmly explained that he had been in the men’s room because he was a boy. (“It’s Ken! But Ken has boobs!”) And your distress over imagining that a preadolescent girl saw your man parts—“I was naked in there! She saw me naked!”—makes such an important point about the prevalence of peeping-Tommery in young girls, and the ways that middle-aged men are vulnerable to them.
To answer your question, “Are you its mom?” more unambiguously: Yes. But you’re smart to ask, because maybe the whole family is a transgendered house of mirrors and I’m really “its” dad! (Last laugh—i.e. my having it—alert!) Certainly, though, it made a lot of sense to imagine that I had colluded in the perversion of sending a girl into the men’s room because, after all, what parent doesn’t want their daughter to be in a tiled room full of urinating men?
In conclusion, thank you for your valuable input. I can only hope that my son will leave behind his girly days of placid confidence and grow into somebody as manly as you—with the kind of balls it takes to scream at a child in public.
Originally appeared at Ben and Birdy