Janice’s Son (Emma Burnett)

“You know Janice’s son, Taylor, who used to be Parker?”

Mum always does this. It’s like she has to qualify that she’s hip, cool with the new gender flexitarians, cool with her friend who has a son who used to be a daughter. But she’s not because she needs to tell me all about it each time. 

How do I tell her that I know Taylor, and I knew him when we were kids, and she was always he? He was just waiting for life and culture and access to good medical care to catch up with him. 

She’s off now, telling me how he, you know used to be she? How he is a hot mess, broke up with a partner, and is he gay if he’s a he but he used to be a she? And I nod along, because I love the gossip but seriously, I don’t need clarification about his body at the start of each sentence. 

I always thought she liked Taylor a lot more than me, back when Taylor was Parker, because he brought all the drama I lacked. Mum likes a bit of drama, and I think she liked that he was struggling. I mostly wasn’t struggling, and I wasn’t a sharer. Mum wanted to know more, but I didn’t give it to her. Taylor did, in spades. He still does, apparently. He’s the gift that keeps on giving. 

I should probably send him a thank you card. 

“You know he’s legally changed his name. I don’t know why. His name, back when he was a she, it was already pretty androgenous.”

She likes that word, but I don’t think she knows what it means. How do I tell her that his name isn’t about looks, and it’s not about being gender neutral. I suppose I could suggest to her that she just ask him, he’d probably have a better answer than I would, but he probably has enough going on without her lobbing big words she doesn’t understand at him.

“Anyway, he’s moved back home, back in with Janice, because things didn’t work out with his ex. It’s driving her round the bend, she wants her house to herself.”

And I can’t help it. I lean forward, pour us both another glass. “No, really? When did he move in? How long is he staying?”

Because maybe sometimes I’m just like my mum.


Favourite drink: the free kind.


Emma Burnett is a recovering academic. She’s big into sports, cats, and being introverted.


image: MM Kaufman