I wrote this short one-act play years ago in response to efforts by some in California to derail a transgender rights bill and force trans girls to use the boys’ bathrooms in schools and trans boys to use the girls’ bathrooms. Now, as the Trump administration backs away from the Obama federal initiative to ensure that trans students in schools use bathrooms that match their gender identity, I feel the play is still timely — sadly. I dedicate it to Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions and everyone else who seeks to deny trans kids of simple, basic rights.
The play features four characters: a mother and father, 15-year-old son named Joseph and 14-year-old daughter named Jessica. It is set in the dining room of a modest, middle-class bungalow in Los Angeles, California. As the scene opens, mother, father and son are sitting at the dinner table, while daughter is standing by the china cabinet. A radio is playing oldies music in the background, at this moment, California Dreamin’ . . .)
Joseph: I have a new girlfriend, and I want to invite her here for supper on Sunday, so that you can meet her.
Mother (gushing with enthusiasm): That’s wonderful, Joseph! We would love to meet her. What’s her name? Where did you meet her?
Joseph (smiling): Her name is Mary, and I met her in the bathroom at school.
Father: In the bathroom!?
Joseph: Yes, dad, she was standing in front of the mirror, putting on her mascara . . . (He sighs happily) . . . Her hairbrush fell off the counter. I picked it up for her, we started talking, and, well, we hit it off.
Father: Wait a minute . . . What was a girl doing in the boys’ bathroom?
(Jessica giggles again, and mumbles under her breath: “This is going to be good.”)
Joseph: Well, it has to do with some stupid petition. I don’t really understand it . . . they just don’t want to let girls like her use the facilities for females.
(Mother holds her hand to her mouth, as if to stifle a cry. Her eyes betray her: she is shocked)
Father: What do you mean, “girls like her”? Are you talking about the referendum to repeal the transgender bill signed by Gov. Brown?
Joseph, nodding: Yah, dad, I guess that is what I am talking about.
Father, incredulously: You’re dating a boy!?
Joseph: No, dad, I’m dating a person who identifies as a girl, and presents herself as a girl.
Mother: But Mary was born a boy?
Joseph: Yes, mom, but she’s on hormones, and she plans to have gender reassignment surgery in a few years, when she turns 18.
Father: If he has a penis, he’s a boy!
Joseph: I don’t care about her penis, dad. I’m not interested in it. I love her, for the person she is inside. She’s beautiful, both inside and outside.
Mother, turning to Jessica, who is grinning: Do you know Mary?
Jessica: Sure, everybody knows her. She’s really nice, and she’s gorgeous — got the sexiest legs in the school. All the other girls are jealous!
Father: I won’t have it — I won’t have my son dating a boy . . . (His voice trails off.) I can’t believe they are letting these transgender kids use the boys’ bathroom.
Mother: But, dear, where else are they going to do their business? You were one of the people who signed the petition to stop them from using the girls’ facilities. They’ve got to go somewhere . . .
Father: You signed it, too!
Mother: Well, you told me to . . . I didn’t really think about it . . .
Joseph, smiling: That’s right, dad. If it wasn’t for that petition, I might never have got to meet Mary.
Father: Well, I don’t want you bringing him home, and I don’t want you dating him.
Joseph: You can’t stop me from dating her (with emphasis on the “her”), and if you are afraid to meet her, that’s your loss.
Mother, standing and hugging Joseph: I don’t have a problem with it, son. You can date anybody you like — male, female or in-between. I’ll love you just the same.
Jessica: Mom, that is so nice . . . (Tears rolling down her cheeks)
Joseph, crying: I knew I could count on you, mom.
Father, standing, obviously moved by the emotions of the other three: Jesus, suddenly I feel so stupid . . . Joseph, I trust you . . . You’re a good kid . . . I love you . . . Yes, yes, bring your girlfriend here. Bring her here for dinner on Sunday . . .
(The family comes together for a group hug, with The Times They Are a-Changin’ playing softly in the background.)
By Jillian Page
With love . . .
Photo: Parents show their support for their trans child as well as all other transgender people during the 2014 D.C. Capital Pride parade, held in Washington, D.C., in the United States on June 7, 2014. They marched as part of a contingent representing the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of the Lower Shenandoah, a PFLAG chapter based in Virginia. (Photo: Tim Evanson/Wikimedia Commons)