Redefining “Tragedy”

I suppose this word can have many definitions.  I guess it would depend on the person defining it.

Once a month, I am a host speaker for a group at my church. Each Monday there is a different topic. I was supposed to be hosting the topic of “Why, God?” Unfortunately due to the crazy winter weather the church closed and I didn’t get to host this topic. But it gave me an idea for a new blog.

A question one might ask in the event of a tragedy, even if you don’t believe in a higher power, you may have ask, “why, God?” Do we really expect an answer? I did at one time. When tragedy strikes we all want to know “why.” It’s human nature.

Remember the brain tumor I mentioned?  Well I asked “why, God” many times.  I waited for an answer.  I finally realized that in waiting for that answer, I could be helping someone else or just as good, helping myself.  I learned so much from that tumor. I know God had other plans for me. My life has changed for the better.  I feel like I turned something bad into something good.  I guess that’s why I call it a gift. I never saw it as a tragedy.  Yes it was scary.  Yes I suffered ptsd from it. I asked why me? I asked many times “why me”, and “why (now on the other side) don’t I have any mental or physical scars?

Back to the topic I was hosting at church, Tragedy and “why, God”.  Usually during the evening as the host I need to share something about myself that relates to the topic.  I do some preparing before I host.  With this topic I was going to share my tumor story but I did that with another topic a while ago. So I thought about the word “tragedy” for a long time. Which lead me to Kam.

Don’t misunderstand me I would not at all call his being transgender a tragedy by any means. Not even close! I am saying that in my lifetime I have experienced two very difficult obstacles. Such obstacles that have lead me to find a new normal in my life. It is not easy to find a new normal.  It takes a lot of time and effort. Just like a diet. The new word for losing weight is “lifestyle change”. You need to change the way you eat and do that forever. It isn’t easy to just do it. Change does not happen overnight or even within weeks. It can take months, even up to a year. But y’all know that.

We all have these things called tragedy’s in life. It’s what we do with them that matters. I want to share that having a transgender child IS NOT A TRAGEDY. Believe it or not, I have had people respond to me in a way that is just crushing to my spirit. No offense taken. They are in need of education. Some of my family members are guilty. Of course I would have never thought I’d be dealing with the loss of one gender for the gain of another. Some of the responses I’ve heard…”oh wow, you’re a good mom”, “Oh my gosh what did you say when you were told” “what are you going to do about it” “how will you explain it to others”…many more than that but you get the gist. My child whether female or male, is MY child. I don’t mind at all being asked questions and I don’t get offended easily (if at all). But being transgender is not a tragedy. It’s all about finding a new normal for all involved. Some take longer than others. When people ask me about my son in and uneducated way, I respond with an answer that is short and sweet. I try to be as open and honest as possible. It’s not anyone’s fault for not being uneducated in an area that may not affect them. I hope our world is changing.  I mean when you’re talking about a human being just wanting to be the person they want to be. As long as no harm is coming to anyone why does it matter?

Everyone is born with the right of being able to become whatever they want. It is unfortunate that some people are born in the wrong body and never get to be who they feel comfortable as. If you aren’t comfortable with yourself, how do you form healthy relationships? Your mind is always telling you something different than how you want to feel. This is a big reason people in the LGBTQ community suffer from depression and heightened anxiety. As a parent I do not want my child to feel this way. That doesn’t make me a great mom. Doesn’t every mom want that for their child?

Moving forward

Recently Kam has expressed to me that he does not want to blog any more.  At first I was sad and felt let down.  I was so excited to start this blog with him for healing purposes and also the thought of maybe helping someone else. He too was happy about our blogging together. We had hopes of maybe writing a book.

One day while at work, he texted me and said that he had to talk to me about something.  Of course I said to myself “what now?” That is one of the worst things to leave a mom hanging with.  Later that night he came to me and expressed that blogging for him wasn’t easy.  In my head I was thinking, you’re transgender! How can you have nothing to write to about?! Well, actually the first thing he said was “he does not want being trans to define him. He said he struggled with things to write about.  Turns out blogging was bringing too much pain to him. The pain of remembering his feelings of wanting so much to be male while growing up female was causing him to be anxious. The memories were causing him to be depressed. In fact he wrestled with telling me this in the first place.  He was not comfortable revisiting those feelings.  Of course I said right away “sure Kam no problem”.  That wasn’t how I really felt at the time. I was selfish in thinking “what about OUR blog site? What about helping others? What about the healing?” I mean we said we would do this together. We were so excited.  It took me a couple of days to realize that if blogging was harming him instead of healing him, then he should stop. I texted him and said “I need to talk to you”.  He texted back and said “what did I do now?  What did I forget about? And I’m sorry.”  I should have left him hanging…lol but I didn’t.  I simply texted back and said I wanted to discuss his not wanting to blog anymore.

Later that night I told him how I felt at first but then after thinking about it my thoughts had changed. I told him that I had to take a few days to see his pint of view.  Yes he is trans, yes more people need to be educated but the thought of my son being in more pain because of blogging? He is SO much more than being trans. He should not feel defined by that. I told him I understood that. He then told me that he would still want to educate people and help but not through remembering the pain and embarrassment in his past.

He will again attend Camp Lost Boys in April. It is a camp for FTM people to come together and relive their past as male and do the things (as male) that they couldn’t do because at the time they were seen as female.  My hope for him is that he will learn more about who Kameron is and what Kameron wants for his future.

So from now on I will be the one blogging. We will still have the same website name and post pictures of usJ.  Please continue to share our site and ask questions!  WE LOVE IT

#ilovemyson

Picture from the Past

In an earlier blog I spoke of a beautiful hand painted sepia picture I had to have of “her”. We hung it in our family room over the fire place where most if not all of the people that come to our home would  see. It was my favorite thing to look at during my recovery from my brain tumor. At that time in my life “she” was the most precious thing I could ever have wanted in my life. Seeing that picture on a daily basis made me feel calm.

I have two little nephews that knew him as “her” for 5 years.  It’s really hard for them to comprehend his transition. They don’t really ask questions too much anymore but I know they are confused.  Some days I am still confused.

I have been thinking of taking the photo down for a little while now. I am updating all photos in the house partly due to memories.  It gets so confusing for me when I look at old pictures. By confusing I mean my emotions go back and forth. I want to remember “her” and yet I want to forget. I will of course, never forget. That even sounds harsh as I read it. My emotions run high when I think about “her”.  I am still getting to know him. I raised a girl for 18 years. Or at least I thought a girl. I feel like when I look at pictures of him now, he is truly happy. He is happy with the photo he is in. He is happy with how he feels and what he is seeing whether in the photo or mirror.  

The thing is, is did I ever really know “her”? I thought “she” was happy. Yet I knew there was something different about “her”.  I just didn’t know what. I remember feeling frustrated as to why “she” didn’t do all of the stereotypical things girls do and share. When I look back at the photos of “her” I almost feel like I want to ask him multiple questions about the photo.  For example, I want to know the following: what were you feeling when this was taken? Were you happy at this time in your life? How do you feel when you see such photos of yourself as “her”? I don’t want to feel that every time I look at of photo of “her”. “She” just wasn’t one of the stereotypical girls and I was mad because that’s what I wanted. I focused on gender way more than my husband did. It’s not easy to admit that I wanted “her” to look and act a certain way and if “she” didn’t I felt judged by my peers. I was embarrassed and I feel terrible for admitting that. Going through his transition I have learned so much and have so much more to learn.

I love taking selfies with him. He is so happy. I love buying clothes for him. I can do it and know he will love what I buy. Buying clothes for “her” sucked.  It was just an awful experience. Now with all of the social media (Facebook especially) I hate when old memories pop up with photos of me and “her”. It just resonates all of the things that were hard for me as a mom raising a girl that never wanted to be a girl.

And yet now, I love posting pictures of me and him.  I love that he is so happy. I hate that he had to be “her” first.  Could it be I do not like being reminded of “her” because “she” existed first? I don’t know.

Trans 102

(K+M) Back in July, we teamed up to write a blog defining terms and concepts in the LGBT+ community. We focused on terms related to being “trans,” as that’s the main focus of our blog. We’ve decided to do that once again, to provide some more educational material.

(K) Back in the spring of my senior year of high school, I boarded a bus at 4am with other members of my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), and we drove to Albany where we spent the day learning about the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and attended other various conversations about sexual orientation and gender expression throughout Albany’s convention center.

GENDA is sort of a follow-up bill to SONDA (Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act), which passed in 2002. SONDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of one’s perceived sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights. GENDA is essentially saying the same thing, but its protections are for transgender/non-binary/gender nonconforming, since SONDA did not explicitly create a protected category for these aforementioned individuals.

Fast forward to now, and GENDA has been passed in the State Assembly for eleven straight years, but the State Senate has never brought GENDA to the floor for a vote. This means that the transgender community in New York State is without explicit protections for over fifteen years!

If GENDA is passed, it could not be overturned by a future governor. It also stands up against transphobia, and sets a good example for other states to protect their transgender residents as well.

(M) Recently my husband and I attended a Gender forum. We, as parents of a child within that community, took in an incredible amount of information that never would have occurred to us with just our own experience.

We were greeted by a transgender woman who really knew her stuff. For example, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association define being transgender as a disconnect between the sex assigned at birth and the gender the brain identifies with (being transgender IS NOT a lifestyle or a choice). A noted statistic (according to a 2016 Williams Institute Report) approximately .6% of the population identifies as transgender. This equates to approximately 1.4 million Americans and over 100,000 New Yorkers. She provided us with a great power point presentation.

The slide that resonated most with me is that every one can be described by four basic factors: biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.  Gender is more than the biological tissue you are born with. Not everyone’s gender identity matches their reproductive organs. Sexual orientation is not based on biological sex or gender identity. Not everyone fits the gender binary (the binary demonstrates that there is only male and female, nothing else can exist). These are things I would have never thought of on my own. It’s like saying, “you don’t know what it’s like to be someone else unless you’ve walked a day in their shoes.” Well, let me tell you the panel that was there to share their stories and answer questions CLEARLY were very different from one another. I learned that every single person in the community has walked very different paths and has their own journey to celebrate because all they want is to be accepted as who they are and what they contribute to society.

There were six people on this panel and of all ages 25-60+. Sadly, the only thing that was the same for them was that at one point in their life they were not accepted and felt unloved. Feelings are very hard to deal with sometimes. You want to suppress them, ignore them, or fill up your time keeping busy so that ‘feeling’ doesn’t take up your every breath. I have seen the anxiety and depression first hand and it’s not easy to watch. It is reported that 40% of transgender individuals have tried to commit suicide. 40%! At one time our child was part of that statistic.  That being said, the love and support he receives keeps him safe and happy. Many people don’t want to tell anyone due to lack of support, love and acceptance.  That leaves one to think “no one wants me and I’m better off dead.”  I just don’t understand what gives a person the power to make someone else feel so helpless and ashamed.

(K+M) Here are some of the highlights from the presentation, and these are the things we feel are important to share and educate people on.

Genderbread-Person-3.3-Minimal.jpg

We found this chart to be informative and easily digestible for people who may not know the proper terminology behind these topics, or for those who may not understand the several different aspects of gender expression/identity/biological sex/sexual orientation.

Terminology

Transphobia: a dislike or prejudice towards the transgender community. Transphobia can also be internalized, when a trans person experiences hatred or shame towards themselves.

Gender Identity: Our deeply held, persistent, internal sense of self as a man, a woman, somewhere in between, or not at all. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “By age four, most children have a stable sense of their gender identity.”

Heteronormativity: The way our culture views heterosexual men and heterosexual women as “normal” and “natural.” All other genders are viewed as abnormal or inferior.

 

Some things to remember when interacting with a gender-expansive person:

You don’t have to understand a person’s gender identity to respect them and their identity. Be sure to use the person’s pronouns of their choice. Do not be afraid to ask someone which pronouns they use. Respect their name, regardless if it has been legally changed or not. And remember, be mindful of the questions you ask them (do not ask about their birth name, genitals, or sexual relationships).

Thank you for reading our second educational blog post! Stay tuned for more. 🙂

Now, go VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!

 

 

Does your Child Have a Voice?

I am one of five children in my family. I grew up with four older brothers, a dad who encouraged competition, and a mom who didn’t really talk much. They loved us. My parents wanted the best for us. They wanted us to have respect. I can’t remember ever learning how to show respect. We weren’t encouraged to share our emotions or feelings. We were taught to speak when spoken to. We got hit when we didn’t comply. We fought like normal siblings do. I’m sure I probably got into my brothers’ stuff and got in trouble. I can’t remember any specific incident, but I was told by my mom that I did. They wanted us to do well in school. Grade wise I was probably the worst but I don’t ever remember getting reprimanded for not doing homework or getting a “D” in high school. As I look back on my childhood I didn’t have a voice. There was a lot of teasing in my family. Today one might call it bullying. Siblings do that right? It’s normal right? In today’s day and age I’m not so sure it is ok. Role models start at home. Your child’s first role model is you and their siblings if they have any.
Fast forward into my late 20s and my husband and I bring our first and only child into this world. At one point or another we’ve probably all said aloud or in our head that we aren’t going raise our children like our parents raised us. We are going to be different with our own children. I was a pre-k teacher for eight years before Kam was born. I was teaching children to have a voice. I was modeling this behavior that was never modeled for me. I was teaching children to talk to each other, share feelings and emotions. I learned how to do this while teaching them. We can all say that “if we knew then, what we know now” we would not have had the process of learning and growing. Getting to the destination has to be a process. We don’t just get in the car and then boom we are at our destination. We have to drive there. I wish my process started much earlier in life. But it didn’t. Having this feeling and then having a baby, I knew I wanted our child to have a voice. My husband and I don’t always agree. We did, however, agree on how we wanted to raise our child. Maybe that’s why we are so accepting to our son being transgender. I don’t know. I am always looking for an answer or a reason as to why some things in life happen the way they do. I (and maybe you) have to accept sometimes there just isn’t one.

Currently I am back in the public school system doing what I love, teaching pre-k. I love that I get to help shape these little humans. They are so eager to learn. I love that the children I am teaching and modeling for are mere preschoolers, they are like sponges. I am hoping to teach them acceptance, love, and kindness. That it’s ok to be different and unique. Every person has something to offer each other and this world as a whole. We have always wanted that for our child.
You never know what a child might be hearing when an adult is talking. Adults don’t always censor themselves. Body language and facial expressions say much more than words. For example, my dad’s facial expressions looked like he was always angry. He was strict and wasn’t really open to the things surrounding him. I’m not even sure how many times he said he loved me. Again something we didn’t want for Kam. I would tell Kam “if Papa ever makes you feel sad or hurts your feelings, tell him.” Not only is it good for your child to share their emotions, it’s good for the adult to learn to adjust the way they talk to a child. I am not trying to preach. I am sharing MY thoughts along with what I wanted for MY child. I think It’s great when a child feels comfortable to express themselves to each other and adults, especially the ones closest to them. I would have Kam say something like, “that hurt my feelings,” or, “I don’t like that.” This type of talk also encourages more conversation. When Kam would say that, my dad didn’t know how to respond to Kam. The two of them had a pretty good relationship. My dad didn’t really talk to Kam the way he spoke with his other grandchildren. The other grandchildren didn’t really express their feelings to him directly.
In this day and age our children need a voice more than ever for many reasons. They need to be heard by their friends and the adults in their lives. As a teacher of any grade, it’s great if a student can express whatever they might need or be feeling. As Kam was growing he didn’t understand why he felt the way he did. He would have panic attacks. I remember one specifically. We were at a wedding and we were sitting at dinner. He began breathing hard and was asking me to take him for a walk. So we left the table and went outside. I was annoyed. I remember feeling like what the heck is going on? I asked him what the heck is going on with you? Why are you behaving like this? He only responded that he was uncomfortable around a large group of people. He was uncomfortable in what he was wearing (which was a dress). This was the time I started to put things together and I could see the physical anxiety in him. From then on, I could see that he would set himself away from large groups. He didn’t even like trick or treating because there were too many kids running around.
So let me talk a little bit about my child as he is today. He is an emotional young adult. As he is growing into Kam and learning who he is, he is becoming more stable each day. He is growing into this handsome young man. I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom. I see him blossoming as a participating citizen in this crazy world and advocating for himself and others like him. In my thoughts, I feel like his life won’t be easy. I know I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. I fear he won’t find that special someone. Questions I ask myself all the time, will he get married, be a father, have equal opportunities? I’ve even gone as far as wondering if he will die alone. That’s morbid. But as a mom with an only child I’ve always had that thought. I don’t believe he will but I do wonder. It’s a horrible feeling. No parent wants their child left out or to feel left out. I guess I won’t know because I’ll be dead. So I shouldn’t think about it.
This blog idea came from a night out with some friends. We began talking about transgender people they know. Some of my friends work in school settings as well. I love hearing about how the schools are dealing with this topic as it becomes more prevalent. My friends have also shared stories about how parents are reacting to their child being trans. I’m sad to say that from what I have heard these parents are not particularly supportive. I can’t say it’s easy, because it isn’t. It’s a MAJOR learning curve for all involved. Some of the stories I’ve heard or read about just kill me inside.
I really feel that if parents and adults can teach children to love everyone as they are, this world would be a better place where all are accepted. That sounds so nice to me. “Normal” is different for everyone!

“T”

“Tes-tos-ter-one” noun: a steroid hormone that stimulates development of male secondary sexual characteristics, produced mainly in the testes, but also in the ovaries and adrenal cortex.
MY definition of “T” (that’s what it’s called in the trans world): OMG! My daughter is going to look like a boy, right quick, another change that I MUST watch and accept.
Well, before Kam made his decision to have top surgery, he made the decision to begin “T,” or hormone replacement therapy. The first time we discussed this, I wanted to die. Immediately my thoughts raced. I knew that the way I physically saw my daughter was going to change forever!! My emotions took over and I cried for days.
Let me backup just a bit. Kam had to do many things before starting “T.” His psychologist asked him to do some research about “T.” He was asked to make sure that he knew what the side effects might be. There was a packet of information Kam studied. He was asked multiple questions to make sure he understood what would be happening, and Kam answered every question with ease and understanding. “T” was something he really wanted. It wasn’t easy for him to wait as long as did to begin. We needed to be positive that he understood what would happen to him and that he’d have to give himself a shot a few times per month for the REST OF HIS LIFE. This coming from a kid who thought having a bloody nose would kill him.
We met the endocrinologist, asked our questions and left the room for Kam to have his consult. There are a few different vehicles for administering “T.” Kam gives himself a shot, subcutaneously (directly under the skin, into fat) every 10 days. There are many side effects a person can have while doing HRT (hormone replacement therapy). I won’t go all medical on you. I will share my opinion and my experience.
Now that it has been about two years that Kam has been on “T,” I do see that he really needed it to be perceived as a male by others. Without it, he could not be who he was meant to be and see what he thought he should see in the mirror. I had to sit by and watch my child change from looking like a female to looking every bit as a male. I wanted to make sure that I saw him every day so that too much time would not go by and then I’d see him and see a dramatic change.
The first part (although we didn’t know it at the time) was when he shaved his hair off in high school, at age 17. He had beautiful long curly hair. When pulled up or back it was still gorgeous. I cried when it all came off but was also very proud of him for donating and shaving it all off. That takes a lot of courage, especially at that age. I figured it would just grow back. Truth is, he didn’t want it anymore. So he kept it very short since then. I got used to it. After his first few shots of “T” there were changes right away. I noticed his body morphing into a different-looking physique. He almost immediately had more body hair. Acne was prevalent. He never had it before. Then his voice began changing. It was getting lower. I was watching my child go into another round of puberty. I was scared for him. My thoughts were all over the place, all the “what ifs” were swirling around. What if people would stop talking to him because they were uncomfortable? What if his friends didn’t want to be around him?
What would family and friends think or say? I mean, when you are not around a person going through a transition, it is very difficult for people to see them after time has passed. Maybe at that time I was embarrassed because I didn’t quite understand why this had to happen. What would I say to people who didn’t know he was transitioning? How do I explain? Did I have to explain? Would people talk behind my back? What if he couldn’t get a job? What if people made fun of him? Would he ever find true love? What if he didn’t like the way he looked after being on “t” for so long? What if I didn’t recognize my child of 19 years? These thoughts stayed with me until I saw for myself how happy it made him and how very handsome he had become. I had a very difficult time seeing him present as him, but having pictures of “her” around the house. Slowly I began to update most (not all) of the pictures around the house. I felt like it helped me along with the changes. I had a pit in my stomach each time I changed a photo. Photos are precious and always tied to a memory. Of course those pictures are kept in a place where if or when I choose to look at them I can. I have yet to do it and maybe I won’t ever do it. But they are there if I want to. He has hair head to toe. I can’t believe how much hair he has! He grew a beard! He loves taking care of it too. He buys product for it. He loves manicuring it, and I love that he loves it so much. He never really liked the grooming that most girls like. As a male, he loves it all, the hair, the clothes, the shoes, and the shopping. When he was growing up I can remember he always felt like he never had a “style” to what he wore or looked like. Now he feels confident with how he looks like and how he dresses.
I think for the most part, “T” has treated Kam well. I may be biased but I think he looks great. And I love his beard. I still have thoughts as to what is “T” really doing to his body that I don’t know about. I try not to worry about things that might never happen, but I know taking “T” will have an impact on him having children of his own. Sometimes I wish he would have harvested eggs but that is his decision.
There are so many ways people can get “T.” I am thankful that Kam is taking his transition one step at time. I won’t know what “she” would like in “her” twenties, thirties etc. I do know that he is handsome, happy and whole. That makes me happy.

A Decision

I don’t think there is a timeline set for a person who is transgender, nor do I believe there is a checklist for one to identify as transgender. I do believe that we are born with “hardwiring” from each parent. I mean we get their DNA. I don’t believe that we as parents create a transgender child or a gay child for that matter. I do not believe that as parents we “do” something to cause that. It isn’t anyone’s “fault.”  I also believe it’s not a choice. When I think about some of the things I have chosen in my life, I didn’t always think about the consequences. I have learned the hard way many times. There are always consequences to our choices. Some are good and some are bad. If you think about a person who is transgender or gay, many of them do not get support and in fact are horribly bullied. No one wants to be bullied or to be the outcast. So why would someone choose to be or do anything that might cause negative attention? It makes no sense.  

Have you ever wanted to change something in your life because you aren’t happy? Maybe it’s a job, a new home, starting a family, or maybe it’s a death. Let’s talk about that for a minute. Death comes in many forms. Death can be the loss of loved one. It can be a divorce. It can be the death of a good friendship, or of a job that you loved. All of these create a change in our lives. In life we are faced with many changes and some we do not want to encounter for many reasons. That list goes on and on for each of us. With any of these “deaths” we encounter, we must move on. Moving on takes courage, faith, support of some kind, and depending on the “death”–it may require a mourning phase.  

So at this point in Kam’s transition, he decides it’s time for top surgery (AKA double mastectomy). He  has been on testosterone and looks more male each day. But oh my gosh, surgically changing his body forever? Hold up. That takes courage. As a family we discussed many times what this would entail. We also did our research and realized that for Kam’s wellbeing this would be a part of his transition. We gave Kam the go ahead to research options and doctors. Once again, he did this very methodically and successfully. With the help of his psychologist, he found two renowned doctors that perform this surgery.  One in Florida, and one in Philly. Well after we got involved a little more from the insurance perspective, we found that some or most of the surgery was going to be covered no matter where he had it. But 100% of it would be covered if he had the surgery in Buffalo. We found a doctor here at a local hospital who was amazing. She just moved back into the area and is an amazing plastic surgeon. I went with Kam to meet her and for the initial consultation. I was blown away by her knowledge and bedside manner. I was also appreciative of her knowledge and compliance with the transgender community. She made Kam feel so welcome and brave. She took the time to get to know Kam and his journey.

There was some wait time due to Kam finishing school and collecting the letters and paperwork needed to have the surgery. In New York State, top surgery is covered due the psychological wellbeing of the person. It is actually seen as part of the transition. In many states the surgery is not covered and that leads to more anxiety and depression. The suicide rate is incredibly high among transgender individuals (40%).  

Surgery date is upon us and Kam is very excited and nervous. This was a kid who thought he would die from a bloody nose. He worried about having a heart attack because he was out of breath–at age 12. He worried the flu would kill him. You get the picture. So here is this brave young man voluntarily signing up for a  major, life altering surgery. The morning of surgery we all went to the hospital. Of course I went back with him whenever I could. There was no way I was going to let him be alone. We even took pictures! I was with him right up until he was wheeled away from me. I waited until he was out of sight and then cried. I’m so glad I was there because he was so nervous.  It is very nerve racking waiting to have surgery. I should know, I’ve had enough of them. Lots of doctors, nurses and equipment making noises as you just sit there and wait for your turn. So in my normal state of behavior I made friends with everyone and cracked jokes. Kam was comfortable with me around (I think).

The doctor came by for one last check and then away he went.  I watched my son be wheeled into the OR on his own free will. I was in disbelief.  While I walked to the waiting room to join my husband I thought to myself, “wow, he REALLY wants this”.  I was both proud, sad and scared. I joined my husband and we waited. I must have looked at the tv screen where his name was over a million times.   It seemed like his name never moved. We were told the surgery would take roughly 2-3 hours. During that time I paced. I prayed. I journaled. I cried and I laughed.  I also had Tim Horton’s and played candy crush saga. Journaling really helped me that day. I found peace in my prayers. So many memories flooded my mind. Memories from early pool days in cute little bikinis to what will I think or how will I feel when my son goes shirtless?  At that point I couldn’t imagine what my body language might suggest when I did see him for the first time. I kept reminding myself that this whole surgery is happening because my child needed to feel and look more masculine. He needed to match his inner shell with his outer shell.  It was a necessity for him. (Quick side note, not all individuals that are trans choose to have surgery.) Anyway, the day was filled with tears and what ifs. “What if’s” are the worst. They do nothing but bring negativity. I had to really be present to make my “what if’s” positive.  

Finally, word came that Kam is recovering and did great throughout the surgery. Praise God! Whew. Surgery took a little longer due to a small delay in the beginning–something that would have been nice to know from the start. I could not wait any longer to see him. I raced through the hallway to his room and watched him wake from the anesthetic. I was so relieved just to see him. He seemed very excited to get on home and heal.

I must admit I loved having the opportunity to play mom again. He doesn’t live at home but during his recovery he stayed at home. Recovery for me was easy. Just emptying drains, recording pills and making sure he was comfortable.  

His first trip back to see the doctor was amazing. When the bandages came off and he took one look at his new chest…it was all I needed to see that we, HE made the right decision. I was so happy for him. His scaring was minimal. But his smile was not.  

The first time I saw him without a shirt it was in a picture. It was a great picture. The ocean behind him, his arms spread wide and a smile as big as his arm span. The first time I saw him in person without the shirt I didn’t think much. My feelings were not like I thought they would be. I thought I would be scared.  I actually thought I would be embarrassed because I was picturing my little girl without a shirt. When it finally happened, I didn’t feel that way at all. I was actually more concerned with watching him without his shirt. He was so confident and proud. How could I feel any less than the same. I was relieved because he was so brave. Multiple times throughout his transition I have projected my feelings to be one way and was wronged many times. I like that. As a child, bra shopping and body image was very uncomfortable for him. But now, my son is feeling very much like a whole person. He has never really felt that way growing up and that makes me sad. Now, he’s different in a way where I feel his wholeness. I love that. My son is really brave and full of courage to be the person he was supposed to be all along.  I’m so happy for him. He is not ashamed as he once was. I love him.