These are the blogs I like sharing because I hope that someone reading this may feel better that someone else shares the same feelings. All too many times people tell us how we should or shouldn’t feel. I hate “should” statements. I grew up with them as a staple in my household. Those statements did nothing other than make me feel like I was always wrong. Feelings are feelings and we should be allowed to just feel the way we feel, plain and simple, with no judgements.
When my journey as a parent of a child with gender disphoria began, I felt alone, uneducated and didn’t know where to turn. I went to the PRIDE center to ask all kinds of questions as to how and where I could become more educated. I asked about meetings. I googled everything I could think of. It seemed like there was so much help for families with a younger child going through transitioning but nothing for a family of an older child. As of now I still don’t know of any support groups for parents with an older child transitioning. So, I started my own! Right now there are three of us. It’s pretty cool. We meet every 6-8 weeks. We laugh, cry and laugh some more. You may be thinking isn’t a transchild no matter the age all the same? It isn’t to me. For me it’s a loss of my daughter I had for eighteen years. Not the loss of my child, but the loss of a gender I had known for eighteen years. Eighteen years of memories, photos and thoughts of what life might be like with a grown up girl. Using his birth name for eighteen years and then having to change what I called him and use the complete opposite pronouns! I can’t even think of what I can compare that feeling to. I can only say that it feels like a loss. Many photos hung on my walls displaying our little girl with long hair and a smile that melted my heart. I will never know what my daughter will be like as an adult. Since Kam’s transition, I have updated (I hate to say replaced) his photos around the house. The word “replace” seems so permenant. My “girl” is gone forever. She has been replaced by the person that was supressed for eighteen years and that person happens to be a boy that could not be any happier to be a boy. Well at this point a man. It’s all he’s ever wanted to be.
Over the last few years watching his transition take place has been a hard pill to swallow. Just like having a brain tumor, I had no control over what was going to happen. My husband and I weren’t always on board right away. Our son was on the train with his bags packed and if we didn’t get on, he’d be gone. (That is my husband’s analogy and I MUST give him credit for it) When I say ‘gone’, I don’t know where “gone” would be. I’d rather have a happy son and be a part of his everyday life than have a dead one. We chose to get on and take that ride with him. I do not regret one day of this two plus year train ride. We still have stops to make.
When babies are born male or female, as parents it is our role to raise them to be good people. We teach them to have morals, goals, and to be kind. We don’t necessarily teach them to be a boy or girl. That is just innate. We do, however raise them as the gender they were assigned at birth. Girls pink boys blue. Things are changing. Many new parents choose neutral themes for bedrooms. When it comes to dressing their child you choose boy or girl clothes. I am not saying ALL parents do this. They definetly do not. I now have friends that are raising their child gender neutral so that the child chooses which gender they want to associate with. I don’t think there is a right way or wrong way…I don’t judge. Society has taught us to raise our children by the gender they were assigned at birth. Alas, society may be changing.
There are no red flag behaviors. There are no symptoms to look for. When Kam was growing up he would always dress like a “tomboy”. He’d have his “boy looking” clothes with a baseball hat. He usually played with boys as a child. During pretend play, he would never want to be the mommy, baby or sister. He was the brother, cousin, dad or dog. Never did he play “girly” dress up. He looked for the sport coats. For his first communion he wanted to wear a suit like all the other boys. These are just a few examples of things I remember when looking back. Were they “signs”? I don’t know. There is no checklist.
What I do know is that my son is happy now. He feels like his outside body matches his inside body. That’s something most of us don’t even think about. In my lifetime I am not sure I will ever be able to understand what that must feel like. Some things in life we just don’t understand.
I think that when you have a baby whether a boy or girl, as parents we have visions of what their life might be like. I am sad that I won’t shop for a wedding dress. Maybe there would have never been a dress to shop for. I am happy that he may choose to get married and I will celebrate a wedding. I am sad there will be no baby in my child’s tummy. How do I know that that would have ever happened any way. I am happy to be a grandparent to a child his partner may carry or they may adopt. When I am speaking to someone about my son as a child, I see is him as the little girl he once was. I am saddened by the memories of my little girl but also happy to have had them. I’ve already had many memories with my son and I look forward to making more. He and I will most likely never speak of “her” in the way that I want to ever again. I’m told it would be better that way.
I have found myself sitting in my room looking at old photos and letters to me signed by “her”. Sometimes I cry. I might laugh. I’ve even found myself wondering what was going through his mind at that time. He didn’t have the words or clear thoughts to express what he was really feeling as a little person. That makes me sad. Then I say to myself “if I only knew” but there is no way of really knowing. You may suspect. That’s different than knowing. I guess when your child is younger and they express gender issues, you as a parent must allow your child to explore and support them all the way. The suicide rate is about 40%. I would rather have my son be a statistic of being a survivor.
Perhaps one day I won’t feel like I lost a gender. For now, I take my feelings one day at a time. Some days it really gets me and others I could care less. I love him no matter what. It’s all about finding a new normal. Hmm maybe that’s another blog?
I had a daughter for 18 years, and now I have a son for the rest of my life.