With practiced confidence, Kaylie threw her arms out in front of her, placed one hand on top of the other and struck a pose. Though her face kept a neutral if quietly proud expression, inside she was squealing with glee. Bent almost double over the beam, her toes carefully pointed, a cute ponytail trailing down her back, Kaylie looked adorable in her soft teal leotard—she was every bit the picture of a preadolescent girl who dreamed of going to the Olympics one day. No one would ever have suspected that she hadn’t always been named Kaylie—and she hadn’t always been a girl.
At birth, Kaylie was born a boy and her parents named her Caleb. Though Caleb had come from a wonderful family, with two doting parents and a fun-loving older sister named Rebecca that he got along great with—a rarity for siblings of greatly different age and gender—Caleb was never quite happy with his life. Though he always had lots of friends come to his birthday parties, the family frequently went on trips to football games and Disney World, and his parents bought him everything a little boy could want, somehow he still found himself wanted more—something he couldn’t bring himself to ask and didn’t understand well enough to explain.
Both parents took their kids to sporting events, taking care not to repeat themselves, so that one day, they might go see a baseball game, and the next time, ice skating or tennis, so the kids would be interested in a variety of sports. One day, they went to a sport that the siblings had never seen before—Mom explained it was called gymnastics. When they got into the stadium and saw what gymnastics was, Caleb and Rebecca were completely awestruck. Girls did all sorts of amazing tricks, backflips, twisting in the air, running around, dancing, and tying themselves on knots, on equipment that looked like a jungle gym or on bouncy mats that let them jump really high. All the time, they wore shiny, colorful, flashy suits that looked like one-piece bathing suits. Caleb and Rebecca both fell in love with the sport at once, and Rebecca immediately begged their parents to let her sign up for lessons. “This is the sport for me, I just know it is,” she said. “Me, too,” Caleb said. Everything about it just felt right to him.
After rounds of begging, both kids were soon signed up to take gymnastics lessons. Caleb, however, was heartbroken to learn that he wouldn’t learn the same things as Rebecca in the girls’ classes—instead, he would be in a separate class with other boys, doing stuff that wasn’t nearly as fun. Nor would he get to wear one of the shiny, one-piece suits that Rebecca got—Mom said they were called leotards. To his dismay, though Caleb quickly dropped out, Rebecca stayed in her classes and soon was having the time of her life. Every practice day, Mom would drag Caleb to Rebecca’s classes, where he would glumly watch her do things that Dad said “weren’t for boys—“ learning how to do backflips on the beam, wear her hair in a scrunchie, and wear a leotard and hang out with other girls. Though both parents tried their best to take his mind off being sad, nothing they did made Caleb feel any better.
Then, one year, before he knew it was time for Caleb’s 10th birthday. Caleb had been very sad with the presents he had gotten the last couple of birthdays and Christmas—and it made his parents very sad to see him so glum, though they couldn’t figure out why. Thus, they decided that they would do everything—anything—they could to make his first double-digit birthday better. When the Big Day finally arrived, and Caleb wasn’t playing with any of his presents, his parents took him aside. “Son, I know the last couple of times haven’t been very much fun for you,” Dad said. “Your mother and I want to do anything we can to help.”
“Please, sweetheart, if there’s anything you want, anything at all, in the whole wide world, we can get it for you,” Mom said. This was the moment Caleb had been waiting for. “I want to be a girl so I can do gymnastics and wear a leotard like Rebecca,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be a girl. Please, Mommy and Daddy, let me be a girl.”
At first his parents were utterly shocked—they simply didn’t know how to respond. But when they saw their child sad and knew that it was genuine, they gave Caleb a great big hug and said they’d do anything they could to make his wish come true. From then on, Caleb became Kaylie, and Rebecca was delighted to have a new sister. Her parents signed Kaylie up for gymnastics classes and from that day on she was having the time of her life. She loved putting her hair up with bows and braids, wearing the soft, siny, colorful leotards and painting her nails to match. Kaylie and Rebecca soon began to spend more time at the gym than at home!
Back in the present, Kaylie smiled to herself, thinking about how lucky she was. None of her teammates knew any different, but if they had, they wouldn’t have cared. “Go, Kaylie!” Rebecca shouted from behind her. Kaylie concentrated hard, squatted, and then pushed off, launching herself off the end of the beam into a double backflip back tuck. She grabbed her knees with her arms and pulled them into her chest, then extended her legs just in time to land beautifully on her feet. Kaylie threw up her arms and presented, beaming. Her parents rose from their feet and applauded her from the sidelines. “Go, Kaylie!” Dad shouted. “That’s my girl!”
“I love you, sweetheart!” Mom called. “That was perfect!’
Yes, Kaylie thought to herself, this is perfect.
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