Grief and Loss Of A (Transgender) Child

It’s an odd feeling to miss someone who is staring you right in the face.

When my 5 year old first started presenting as male I read and read and read some more about anything and everything I could get my hands on as it related to transgender youth. I studied and learned and researched and took notes and sent links to my fiance and family and to myself (to refer back to later). I joined groups and asked questions and met with other families of children who had come out as trans. I wanted to know IT ALL. But one thing I hadn’t prepared myself for was the grief and that accompanies the “loss” of your child. Your child as you know it is gone. And with that comes an intense amount of sorrow.

I didn’t get to mourn the loss of my child like someone might mourn a death. There wasn’t a service, no meal train was set up in our name, I didn’t get calls or texts or cards in the mail to express sympathy or condolences. There was no outpouring of support from family or the community. In many cases, it was the opposite. Months, days and hours defending my child and giving explanations and resources to family and friends.

You are so busy focusing on your child and the changes you are determined to support him through that your own thoughts and feelings get overlooked. The

HUGE changes that come along with social transition shadow your inner emotions until it comes crashing down one day and you start to realize… You are sad. You are mourning. And when you take the time to sit down and think about how you’re feeling and why, you notice that you feel as if someone died. And, in a way, someone did.

My child, as I knew him, was no longer the same person. And in his place there was a new, different child that I was still learning about. I was changing words, changing the way I referred to and reacted to my child. Everything changed. When I found out I was pregnant for the first time I had eight months to read and prepare for parenthood. And even though nothing can prepare you for the true day to day of being a mom, at least you have time. With this, I wasn’t given much time at all. As soon as he expressed himself to me that he wasn’t living his true self, he was off and running. And I was just trying to keep up. 

My son asked me recently if I still think he’s the same kid “now that I’m a boy”. And it made me wonder if I treat him differently now. Is he also mourning the mom he used to have? Has his mom morphed into someone new that he is also trying to navigate a relationship with? I sure see him (physically) differently now.

Everything he does makes this all so OBVIOUS. But I think some of that is me just trying to find and make sense of it all as a parent. How could I have not seen this sooner? How did he know, and I didn’t? So alongside the grief there is guilt. Guilt that I wasn’t doing my job as a parent to the fullest. I didn’t know him better than he knew himself. Which comes full circle back to grief and loss. 

If someone ever told me there would come a day when I would miss the very child laying on my chest watching a movie with me, I would have thought they were bat shit crazy. But now, I realize how possible that is. I know with time the things I miss will get less and less as I continue to watch the development of my child in his element and becoming more and more of his true self. But for now…. it’s just a little sad. 

MomTransparenting

 

If you connected with this post, here are a few others discussing my experiences with raising a young transgender child:

My 5 Year Old Is Transgender, And I Don’t Want Your Advice

What If This Is Just A Phase?

My Son’s First Haircut – A Rite Of Passage

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Grief and Loss Of A (Transgender) Child

      1. Thank you for expressing the allowing if grief. My eldest came out as trans a year ago, at age 21. Of my three boys, he now she was the least feminine. And a year into her transition, she is still the least feminine. Before she was born, I KNEW she was s boy, and felt a connection that I didn’t feel with her younger two siblings. So after 21 years, it’s reslly hard to see her as female. Especially since she looks and acts pretty much the same. I guess that’s the point, tho. She’s still the same. She’s just expressing herself in her authentic way. Even if it doesn’t look that different from the outside. I still miss ‘Cammy’. Your post gives me permission for that. Thank you.

        1. You’re such a good mom! I totally relate to those feelings but just knowing that you’re supporting and affirming even through your grief shows what a fantastic parent you are <3 many hugs to you!

  1. Thankyou for this it is exactly how I feel. I miss my then son of 6 ft 1inches coming up to me and putting his arms around me and hugging me.
    My new daughter has a completely different personality! She is literally a different person and there’s no semblance of my son there and the closeness we had mother and son has gone!
    I sometimes want to tell my daughter that I miss my son but I know that would upset her. But in not telling her I’m keeping so much emotion inside me and I’m struggling.
    Don’t get me wrong I’m hugely proud of my daughter and I know she’s doing the right thing and it is what she has to do to live her true life. I see how happy she is and that’s fantastic.
    I just have to accept that my son has gone and I have a daughter now, it’s easier said then done.

    1. I know how hard it is not to tell them that you miss them! It seems like a natural thing. My son often asks me if I miss when he was a girl, and I simply say I loved you then and I love you now just the same. But I do absolutely miss the daughter I had. It’s great to find like-minded parents to be able to express those feelings to because it’s not good to keep it bottled up inside either. I hope you have plenty of people you can open up to about this in your life <3 you’re a great mom <3

  2. So well put! Through the advice of a friend, I have replaced photos throughout the house. The only one that remains for now is the portrait over the fireplace of our two little blonde girls. I suppose I will put it in a canister somewhere , or not.

    While I will miss that little girl, and spent the better part of a year hold up in my house mourning, We now have a happy self-confident man, who is able to open his heart to us and no longer self harms.

    Oh what a journey!

    Love to all the Mamma Bears out there!

  3. Thank you so much. This hits the nail on the head for me. I have been grieving for a year and not feeling the “same” love for this new person because I don’t know them intimately like I knew their original. We were extremely close but there has been a big personality change and it’s a big adjustment aside from everything else. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

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