Normally I'd be posting something about transgender issues, not writing about weddings. It's not that there is nothing transgender-related on my mind. For example, in the past month we had the horrific story of trans woman Erin Vaught at the emergency room of Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Indiana. Vaught was coughing up blood and sought help and instead was made fun of by the staff, in front of her partner and son, for being transgender, and then was denied treatment.
I'm so thankful to be in good health (knock on wood). To have an experience like Vaught's, in front of my wife-to-be and her two daughters, would certainly put a serious damper on the excitement of our upcoming nuptials.
But instead of expounding on that story, I'm going to write about the weddings we have been planning. Yes, I meant weddings -- two to be exact.
I wrote about one of the weddings back in February. Since then, Terry and I decided that we wanted to make that one -- the official wedding coming up in a few short weeks -- just for adults, so that they could have a good time without having to worry about what the kids were up to.
Yet we're close to our nieces and nephews and didn't feel right about leaving them out of the fun. So, we decided we wanted to do something for them, and that happened on July 31.
The unofficial ceremony was held in our home, a New York City-style loft with a large open space. Since the wedding party wore its full wedding day attire, the kids got the bonus of seeing it before their parents will. I felt regal in my ivory gown, Terry looked so sharp in her black tux with ivory bow tie and cranberry vest, the bridesmaids were gorgeous in their cranberry colored dresses, and the groomspeople were equally sharp in the gray suits with cranberry bow ties.
The boyfriend of one of Terry's daughters presided over the brief unofficial ceremony, and then Terry and I did our wedding dance. Those dancing lessons have really paid off -- Terry did a great job leading and I had a great time being twirled around the floor.
We had bouquets and boutonnieres composed of flowers and lollipops. I did have a moment of panic before the ceremony when I found that my bouquet had caused a few spots on my gown. It turned out that the lollipops in the bouquet were melting! Thank goodness my nephew was able to get up the spots by dabbing with a wet cloth. And thank goodness we didn't do the traditional bouquet toss.
After some formal pictures, everyone got changed and piled into two stretch limos waiting downstairs. We reached the bowling alley to find pizza waiting for us. After wedding cupcakes, we took over five lanes and bowled three games. What fun it was to see all of the moms waiting for us when our stretch limos arrived back at our home. It was truly a memorable day and the kids loved it.
In hindsight, though, we wish we had invited one other kid, someone from outside our families. Sylvia* was born Ryan at the same time as her brother Tom, an identical twin with matching DNA. Ryan was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder at age six and transitioned to live as Sylvia at the start of fifth grade.
Sylvia is fortunate to have new age parents who sought professional help early on rather than dismissing her transgender identity, as used to be the norm. Terry and I are honored to know these parents. Their story was recently profiled in the pediatric health blog of Children's Hospital Boston.
Not long after the kids' wedding, Sylvia's dad posted an incredibly powerful essay on how his transgender 'tween has changed his outlook on manhood, acceptance and the concept of family. One of his paragraphs stuck in our minds:
A year ago I took my daughter to a college class to hear a transgender college professor talk about her life. I wanted her to see that there are a number of strong, successful transgender women that she can admire and emulate as she continues to develop her own core values.
Terry and I immediately thought of how extraordinarily special our wedding is for me -- having been the groom in my life before Joanne, now getting to be the bride I always wanted to be. We can't help but think that Sylvia might have found it equally special to have attended the kids wedding, and to see that strong, successful transgender women get married, too.
*the family's names have been changed for confidentiality