THE BLOG
03/10/2014 03:27 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Knock on Wood

Sally Anscombe via Getty Images

I can't remember exactly when it became my mantra, but somewhere along the line I abandoned all reason, turned my back on logic, and succumbed to superstition. The kind of superstition learned on the playgrounds of my childhood, where chanting a particular phrase would make everything all better, or protect you from harm, depending on your situation.

"Circle, circle. Dot, dot. Now you have the cooties shot."

If only it was that simple.

"Find a penny pick it up all the day you'll have good luck."

That one always seemed to work -- as long as you found a penny.

As a mom of a transgender child, I found the need to reach deep into this medicine cabinet of protective sayings. To rely upon the prescription strength that came with that simple, yet all-encompassing verbal immunization: Knock on wood.

Learning that our child was transgender, I found myself transformed from a rational human being, to a mother fraught with worry. An all too common state of being, I quickly learned, for parents like me whose children knew at an unusually young age, that there was a disconnect between their mind and body. And so, I adopted that familiar incantation from my youth, using it on a daily basis as an insurance policy for the worries and fears I had for Sam that were accidentally spoken out loud.

In the early days, it went something like this.

I've read the research studies that have found that less than two percent of gender variant kids actually grow up to be transgender. What are the chances Sam will fall into that category?

Knock on wood.

Just because she insists on getting the boy's Happy Meal toy doesn't mean she really thinks she is a boy.

Knock on wood.

They didn't intend to exclude Sam from the birthday party. Those parents could not be that cruel to an eight year-old-child, could they?

Knock on wood.

It doesn't mean anything that she wants to wear boys' Super Hero underpants.

Knock on wood.

Those classmates will eventually come around. They can't possibly bully and ostracize Sam forever.

Knock on wood.

I'm so tired of the stares and whispers. We are going to send a letter to all of our friends and family explaining that our child is transgender. Just think about it, what's the worse thing that could happen?

Knock on wood.

And as Sam got older, there was a new set of concerns to ward off.

I've spoken with a lawyer familiar with Judge Rosenbloom, and he said she is fair. I know Sam is only 14, but I'm sure she'll grant our petition for a name change from Samantha to Samuel. How could she not?

Knock on wood.

Don't worry honey, I'm confident the TSA agent won't notice that the name on the passport is Samuel, but the gender marker is still an "F."

Knock on wood.

I called ahead and found they have a unisex restroom on the third floor of the museum right behind the dinosaur exhibit. If we confide in one of the field trip chaperones, I'm certain they will escort you there without the other kids finding out.

Knock on wood.

The full body security scanner at the airport can't see everything, right?

Knock on wood.

We are headed back a second time. There is no way we will get the same bigoted woman at the Social Security Administration who refused to change his gender marker after pointing to Sam's groin and asking if he had had surgery "down there."

Knock on wood.

He wouldn't really try to kill himself, would he?

Knock on wood.

Yes, I suppose you could say these three little words have become my daily devotion. A type of prayer for agnostics like me to recite when ordinary situations most people take for granted become challenging. Common events, such as being invited to birthday parties, using public restrooms and making friends, that don't come easily for my son Sam, merely because his mind and biology don't match. And so, for what it is worth, I will continue uttering these words while at the same time tapping on the nearest piece of lumber (often times that being my head). Because I know in my heart that if I keep repeating this phrase, all of my worries and fears for my beautiful child will never come to be.

Knock on wood.

Post Note: This essay was chosen to be a part of The Naked I: Insides Out play that was produced by 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities. The world premiere on February 13, 2014 featured contributions by over 75 queer, transgender and allied artists. A treasure of the arts, the 20 % Theatre Company is committed to supporting and promoting the work of female and transgender theatre artists, and celebrating the unique contribution of those people to social justice and human rights.