This is a very tough question to answer. I’ve been at my current job now for four years. I’ve met many people. I am a nail technician for a private club. I have many conversations about multiple things daily. You know how it is when you go get your hair or nails done you talk. I get excited when someone brings a book. When I first started this job, I had a daughter. Many people (not just at work) talk about their kids. Everyone from my extended family and family’s friends, as well as my friends and coworkers both past and present know I had a daughter. During his transition it was extremely uncomfortable when a client would come in that I hadn’t seen for a bit of time. They would ask, “how’s your daughter?” No harm in that. They had no idea how my daughter was in the process of becoming my son.
Due to the nature of my job, clients can be very loyal. As a matter of fact, most, if not all of my clients now know about my son. I have received nothing but love and support from my current clients and coworkers. In fact they are more supportive than some of my extended family. My husband’s extended family is doing quite well with all of this.
What is really weird is when I have a new client and they ask “do you have any children?” My response is still to take a moment before I speak and I say,
“Yes, a son”. It’s getting easier. It really is.
Let me begin by telling you that when I talk to people that need to know that my daughter is now my son, I start by smiling and saying “well, my daughter is now my son, and HE is doing well.” Most of the time, I get a blank stare with a very confused look. Some people want to know more about it and ask questions. I love that because I hope to educate them, and it’s therapeutic for me.
There have been (and sure there will be more) people that respond with “oh, how do you deal with that?” I usually don’t take offense. After all I’m sure I just blindsided them with my answer to how my daughter is doing.
I’ve found a good way for me to make people feel at ease is to say, “yep, bet you didn’t see that coming.” That usually makes the person feel a little more comfortable. I try to keep my sense of humor (at times very dry) in all I do. It’s become a coping mechanism starting back in the brain tumor season of my life. LOL. See, who laughs at a brain tumor? Back to the question at hand, how is your daughter? Going through a name change, top surgery, and watching him changing the gender markers on all of his identification was very crushing. For so long I introduced my child as my daughter. I’ve been asked to not share the birth name–ever. I have to respect that. In fact there are many things I must respect about my now son. That’s for another blog! Anyway, I feel like I need to make people in my life that have been around for a long time more comfortable with the FACT that I now have a son. Also there are people that I don’t see frequently and those are the people that when they ask “how is your daughter?” I say, “oh just fine”. Then I redirect with a question about them. So for those of you who may be reading this and know us and you’re now finding out about my son, next time you see me, ask me “how is your son?” Maybe you will catch me off guard!
I also like when a person responds to me by saying “how are you doing”? I mean it’s not easy for a parent with a trans child no matter the age of the child. I can only speak from my experience that calling your child by their birth name and introducing them as your daughter for eighteen years is really tough to change. I mean all of a sudden as a parent you’re expected to follow all the rules of having a transgender child. By rules I mean it is a sensitive subject for everyone involved. It’s a whole community of people that feel shunned. When they feel accepted for who they are it’s a wonderful feeling for them. And when a person misgenders or calls them not by their new name but uses their old name, it is very hurtful to them. As a parent I signed up for unconditional love. Does it matter if I have a daughter or a son? No. Does it matter if my child is happy with who they are? Yes it sure does! Life can be hard enough with all of the ups and downs. Being a parent of a transgender child I want to make sure my child is comfortable in his own skin so that when he faces life’s ups and downs he knows he is capable of surviving.