When Your Child Comes Out – Family Can Be Harsh

Once my son expressed his true feeling to me about feeling like a boy trapped in a girl’s body, he was rapidly ready to make some serious external changes, and people started asking questions. My child was very open about how he felt to most people. At school he walked right in and announced himself as a boy. In the neighborhood kids asked “so, you’re a boy now?” and he would simply respond, “yep!” and continue on playing, business as usual. There was no doubt in HIS mind, but it sure as hell did make some heads turn or eyebrows raise, especially if this was the first time someone saw him since his appearance drastically changed.

It’s interesting to watch. Especially at this age, because kids {mostly} don’t care. They seem to breeze right over it move on to more fun things. It’s not the kids that scare me when it comes to my child. At least not yet. It’s the adults that seem to be confused, scared, and downright mean.

Since my son has gotten more open about his feelings, we’ve gotten support where we least expected it, found friends in strangers that have gone through similar struggles, and received a lot of backlash from the people I expected to be our biggest supporters.

My son made it very clear rather early that he wanted me to do the explaining. He didn’t want to sit and field questions as a child, he was still figuring this all out for himself and at four that’s hard to articulate to an adult anyway. On top of the language barrier between adult and young child, anyone that wanted to question him seemed to have an agenda of using whatever he said as a way of discrediting his feelings or making him prove to them that this wasn’t some child’s play. It. Was. Infuriating.

Everything he said and did started getting dissected. If he had played with a doll while I was at work (even though he was playing the dad and the doll was the son, as he often did) my family babysitter would call me after and say, “you know, {FULL GIRL NAME} was playing with dolls today, and SHE LIKED IT!” Huge effing eye roll from me.

Photo Credit: Trans Student Educational Resources

No one understands until they do the research that this is a spectrum, that one action does not make or not make you identify as a boy or a girl. And who am I to tell my child how they feel on the inside because of the toys they play with? I’ve always had toys for both sexes in my house. If my oldest (born male) son puts a headband on and prances around the house (and, he has) does that make him feel like a girl on the inside? No.

Comments like this made me quickly realize why he was overwhelmed and decided to defer the questions off to me to let me handle the explaining. Mama Bear mode came on strong in many cases.

Everyone had their theory, everyone had their opinion, and many times… it wasn’t favorable to the path we had already decided to take with my son. The path that the professionals, the parents, the doctors, and every other person I could tell my story to, begging for an answer, had advised us to take. I would spew out statistics and evidence-based research, but it didn’t matter. There are some people that no matter WHAT you tell them, will always think they have the answers. When my son started requesting male pronouns be used to refer to him, some family members flat out refused.

My family tried to tell me horror stories of other trans kids they had heard about (but didn’t personally know), how my kid was going to get bullied out of school, how other kids were afraid of my child. As if I wasn’t already afraid enough for my child. As if this was a choice. I heard all about how my child needs attention, is around too many boys, must be confused, is too young…. I should wait five years. See if this sticks before we do anything “drastic”.

My kid was told “NO” when he would ask them to address him by his new, shortened name. And then they would emphasize his “dead name” when they addressed him to show their opposition to his change. (Dead name is the name you were given at birth. The name you no longer associate with. And for many trans kids, a painful name. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t familiar with terms – I still am learning all of the lingo and politically correct terms relating to all of this).

I learned a lot about my family in the beginning, to say the least. And we are still working on some (most). It’s sad when you have to consider if it’s going to be safe and healthy for your child to attend something as simple as a family BBQ, or if you should just stay home altogether. It’s not fair. Hopefully, by this time next year, things will be much different. One can wish… right?

I hear from other trans kid’s parents that they sent out letters or emails, sent an announcement to their family when the situation got real for them to explain what was going on, how to address their child, and many included a number of researched referrals/articles for their family to read if they had questions. I didn’t do this. I should have. Maybe I was giving it some time to make sure, maybe I was scared. I honestly don’t know. But I think it would have helped prepare my family (and done my kid some good) if I had warned them all before we showed up at the next family function with a hair cut, boy clothes, and a new name. Lesson learned.

 

Until next time, be the mom that sticks up for your kid. Even if it’s to family and even if it brings you pain. Be in their corner. And be proud of that.

 

MomTransparenting

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The Day I Told Someone I Have Two Girls And A Boy, And My Son Was Devastated

There are endless opportunities for you to screw up as a parent. Every single day there is some situation, some reaction, some word that you said that you regret. Endless moments that at the end of the day as you reflect on all of your mistakes you realize you could have done differently, more loving, more understanding, more patient. If you weren’t so tired, weren’t so overloaded with sports to get to and birthday parties to remember to buy gifts for and doctors appointment and school registration and…… as your list continues the list of reasons that magnify your chances to screw up become endless as well.

We all, as parents, have those moments. But one of mine that will always make me cringe with absolute heartache happened shortly after my son came out to me as trans. We are only currently about 6 months into this process, so this was {maybe} 4 months into his path of transitioning.

I was on a work call, and wandering aimlessly around my yard while the kids were all playing with their random toys that didn’t belong outside, that would normally make me squawk at them to take back in the house, but…. I was on the phone… and so they know, this is their chance to get away with murder. I believe all kids of all ages, shapes, and sizes know this offspring life-hack.

Mom said no? Well then, just wait until she’s is on the phone, and then…. ask for whatever you want. The world is your oyster once she has someone important on the receiving end of her cell. She will say yes, and if you’re lucky, the call will take just enough of her focus and energy that by the time she hangs up, she will forget you even did this to begin with. Kid WIN.

My son was currently practicing this little snippet he learned from the  children’s secret society we have no intelligence of (or maybe it was Pinterest, who knows where they figure this shit out): he was asking me for something (I couldn’t remember what if I tried), and I was waving my hand in the “go ahead do whatever you need/want be quiet this is important” mom motion. Meanwhile, the person on the other end of the phone heard my kids in the background which prompted him to ask about them. And I quickly responded, I have two girls and a boy, and continued our business discussion without another thought.

My child was off playing again with his siblings until the next epiphany would come to them to request from me before my phone call ended and their time ran out. It wasn’t until I hung up the phone that my son came up to me and tugged on my shirt ever so gently with a single tear rolling down his cheek. I thought for sure he had fallen off his bike or tripped on the sidewalk and had a boo-boo for me to kiss somewhere on his little body. But instead, he simply said, between the most inaudible but tragic sobs, “mom, you told your friend that I was a girl.”

UGH. Those little words, that devastated face, the wretched shoulders. In that moment I felt so small. So lonely. So undeniably AWFUL. I couldn’t believe I did it and I also couldn’t wrap my head around how intensely upset he was. It wasn’t an obvious visual or audible upset. It was as if someone had just died and the initial shock hadn’t worn off but the emotion was so deep. So hurt.

I’ve since explained in great detail to my son that I am determinedly trying and making a very conscious effort to change my language in regards to HIM. But, there are times I can’t get my kids names right when I am looking right at their faces! I call them out as their sibling, the dog, the neighbor boy, whoever’s name pops in my head first in my fit of fury. But to my trans child, when I make a (avoidable) mistake like that it cuts him on such a deeper level, and so I really need to be more careful.

I haven’t made that mistake in public or with an “outsider” of our family since. And after that moment, I don’t think I ever will. As parents, we always want what’s ultimately best for our kids and we never (intentionally or not) want to be the one that causes their pain. Ever. The excruciating hurt of that one slip was way too much. For us both.

Until next time… be the mom you want to be. Even if she has faults. Even if she gets through her day and promises herself that tomorrow she WILL do better, and tomorrow comes and so do the new day’s errors. Nobody is perfect, but you are trying. Always give yourself credit for that.

 

MomTransparenting

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Mom Anxiety – We All Have It

Can we talk about mom anxiety? I know this isn’t a technical illness with a formal DSM diagnosis, but let’s be honest, it’s a thing. I firmly believe there is a whole population of moms out there that experience this specified version of panic that only has an onset when you create a living, breathing being from your own body. Or, in some cases, even if you haven’t created said being, but care for it as if you had.

This debilitating “disease” can range anywhere from serious to seriously asinine. It starts off precisely at the moment you find out you are pregnant. For a whole second (or longer) you stop breathing.

It’s as if the world stops, and you crawl into The Matrix, there’s an absolute transformation, and suddenly you go from being an independent, free-thinking, free-spirited woman to an anxiety ridden, over-thinking, over-analyzing, always questioning, never sleeping, always worrying mom…. and the baby isn’t even here yet.

People will say things like “there is so much for you to worry about later, and stress is not good for the baby. Enjoy your pregnancy!” But you simply CANNOT when you are incessantly finding myriads of information on the internet that send you into a click hole of examples of what could go wrong at any given moment now that you are pregnant.

You could eat the wrong food. You did, in fact, yesterday… and now you are petrified that you have somehow stunted your unborn child’s brain grown with one bite sized sushi roll. You definitely haven’t taken enough folic acid, so surely your baby’s spinal chord hasn’t developed properly. That happens early, ya know. And that medication you were taking before you found out you had a fetus growing inside of you, that causes club foot. So that is inevitable.

I waited for each ultrasound like it was Christmas and I was visiting Santa to make sure he knew what presents to bring me. As soon as I left the doctor’s office knowing all hands and feet were in tact, I could breath… and start worrying about the next thing. Like what problems I would encounter on the delivery table (oh, GAWD, would I POOP on the table?!)

You tell yourself, once the baby comes and everything is healthy and perfect you can and will relax. But that is just a little inside joke we tell ourselves, as moms. Besides the sleepless nights that come with an infant, there are the sleepless nights that come with mom anxiety.

As my kids get older I worry about so much more. It was first development: rolling, crawling, walking, talking, running, eating, growing. I thought those were a really big deal. I was so blissfully ignorant.

Now, my fears have only been magnified as they grow figuratively and literally. I wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night wondering if I ever remembered to mount the new furniture to the wall so that when one of my monkeys climbs on it, it doesn’t come crashing down on them, killing them in the process. (I did, of course).

I think about all of the day’s events that could have went horribly wrong. Like when my child opened the door to the neighbor knocking to see if they could play. What IF that were a stranger? What IF they had come to steal my child away and at that very moment I happened to be in the bathroom screaming at them to leave me be so I could sit on the toilet in peace!? I’m a bad mom… I could have lost them to child trafficking today from their very own living room, and I was so selfish I wasn’t even THINKING.

Every day is loaded with examples like this. Where I simultaneously am screaming my head off at my kids while worrying in agony that something terrible will happen to them, to me (and leave them motherless), to our house, to my job, etc etc etc.

Mom anxiety is crippling and ruining my chance to enjoy my kids, but I take solace in knowing that absolutely every other mom out there has the same crippling (unwarranted) fears running their lives too. And I’m not alone. Neither are you.

 

Despite this terrible “disease”, be the mom you want to be. Even if she wakes up in the middle of the night wondering if the oven was ever turned off. Even if she calls the neighbors seconds after leaving the house because she can’t remember if she closed her garage door. Be that mom. And rock the shit out of it.

 

MomTransparenting

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Trans-parenting… The Story Continues.

If you haven’t read my previous post… find it here: In The Spirit of Transparenting – Let’s Get This Party Started

This is a two-parter and you have landed on the back end, so rewind, and come back. See you soon. 😉

So, where did we leave off? Ahhh, yes. My 4 year has expressed in some pretty profound ways that he was born a girl, but identifies as a boy. Now what? As a parent, I instantly went into panic mode and started learning all I could to help, support, nurture (but not push) my child. People are constantly questioning if we moved too fast, if I may have decoded this message from my child in error. Maybe they just need attention? Maybe they are around too many boys? Aren’t they too young to make such drastic changes to their lives?!?

Photo Credit: TransStudent.Org/Graphics

I’m a person with a Master’s level education who loves research, so my initial reaction was to get on the internet and figure this out. Whilst burying my face in google, and joining every mom group related to this I could find, I ascertained that many kids who present with gender confusion start to “figure this stuff out” around this very age. Whether or not they voice it or know how to articulate it in a way that an adult can decipher, is a different story.

So maybe my situation wasn’t as far fetched as I had first considered. I also discovered how family, especially their immediate family, reacts to and treats the child regarding their requests to start identifying as their true self makes a HUGE impact on their mental health and well-being for years to come. And by HUGE, I mean, it’s a matter of life and death. According to Trans Student Educational Resources,  more than half of transgender youth with families that do not support them and accept them attempt suicide at some point in their lives. The statistics on this are astounding.

That was when I made the decision to follow my child’s lead, wherever that may take us, and not look back.

People keep asking me if I’m sure. If he might be too young. If we “allow” this then what if?? What if we are WRONG….

And to those questions I have to say, I’m not sure. At this age I don’t think anyone could or would be 100% certain about anything when it comes to their child. BUT, if we don’t accept this, if we don’t “allow” it and follow his lead to wherever it takes us on this path, the consequences of that are straight up terrifying. Scary enough that I’m going to do whatever it takes to show my child that if he is different, if he is not who we thought, if he is trans… it doesn’t matter, not to me. Because no matter who or what my child is, he’s mine, accepted and loved. Every single way I felt about my child before this event, hadn’t changed.

If anything, I had only grown to have far more appreciation for my child. My heart swelled with pride. I was so proud of his bravery, his strength, his courage, and….. quite frankly I gave myself a nice big pat on the bat for raising a child who had such awareness for himself and felt comfortable in coming to me, his mom. I know I sure as hell wouldn’t have had the guts to do that when I was a kid. My mom scared the crap out of me. She still does. But, I digress,  that’s a story for another time.

Nothing I’m “allowing” my child to do isn’t reversible. But I feel like it’s important to mention that I am not “allowing” anything! I am simply listening to my child. I feel like I’m chasing a moving train that left the station LONG before I got there and I’m just trying to catch up, catch my breath, and enjoy the ride to our destination. Even if it’s not something I ever thought would happen in my wildest dreams.

Photo Credit: Tran Student Educational Resources

As shitty as this might sound, no one WANTS this for their child. Nobody wants to know that the life they are leading is one that will inherently cause more stress, more opportunities to be bullied or disliked or treated differently or unfairly. Nobody asks for their child to be part of a population that is known in history to be misunderstood and discriminated against. Even the most progressive parent is not going to kickoff this process jumping for joy when their child says, “hey mom, I know you guys thought I was a girl… but guess what? I’m really I’m a boy”. Progressive parents don’t spring to attention and say “HELL YES! I am so HAPPY for you! You get to be part of the group of people that the majority of the population is completely confused about! YAYYY!” No. As parents, our first reaction (from almost all parents I’ve talked with in this same situation) is fear. But, when the reality of it is, this is who they are… you just don’t have a choice. It just IS.

Photo Credit: Trans Student Educational Resources

I would like to say our process in these short 6 months has been a slow one, and maybe for my child who has been having these thoughts and feelings, it has felt like forever, but from my perspective…. it’s been really fast. Shortly after my child told me his true feelings we got a hair cut, he started refusing any and all of his “girl” clothes and needed an entire new wardrobe. Soon after that my child asked me to start using male pronouns to refer to HIM (him/he/his/son), because, he’s a boy. He walked into school and shortened his name to his first initial. And unlike the “average” little “girl”, when we are out in public and someone recognizes him as a boy, he is elated. It just makes his damn day, and I loved being the privileged one to experience his newfound pride and exuberance with him along the way.

I have no idea what the future holds for this kid. In my research frenzy it sure seems that when a child at this age is this in tune to their gender, chances are they aren’t going back to the gender they were assigned at birth. And for my son, it sure seems like living his true self as a boy has made him a happier, bubblier, less angry, and more social kid overall. He sure seems to me like he’s finally found his place in this world, and for that I am eternally grateful. I’m just so thankful that my child had the insight to do it and the confidence and bravery to come to me before it was too late.

I’ll be sure to update along the way, but until then…. be the mom you want to be. Even if it means you have to advocate for your kid. Even if it means that you might be the villain to others, but to your child, you’re a hero.

 

Mom Transparenting

 

 

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In The Spirit Of Trans-parenting: Who Am I?

So… who the hell am I and why should you read my blog? I’m a pretty lame person, with a pretty average life. I’m divorced. Which just means that I’m part of the majority of the previously married adult population. And that the man who I swore my love, life, and future to years ago became my worst enemy for a whole year straight while we battled in court until the lawyers realized we were out of money, and then magically, things started happening and our divorce was finalized. Funny how that works.

I’m also (unrelated,… maybe) broke. Because of my life before divorce, the one with two incomes and no debt and even financial contributions into the family, I lived pretty comfortably. Now, considering one of those things no longer exists in our household, I believe “frivolously” might better describe my spending skills (I think they call it champagne taste on a beer budget). I have yet to figure out how to make that mature adjustment to my shopping habits and find the balance of my new income (or missing income), and when I do (hello, fellow Single Moms, share your tips please!) you’ll be the first to know!

I have 3 kids. They are all mine, all the time. I don’t share custody so my shit show day is quite literally MY shit show and I embrace the fuck out of it.

My ex husband and I do not speak and he’s not a part of our lives at the moment. Which I might get into more later but for now that’s all I’m going to say about that. (Let’s keep the sad/serious stuff for a rainy day).

 

What makes our family different isn’t the divorce part, isn’t the ex part, or the fact that I’m a broke ass single mom with kids that can’t keep a room clean if their life depended on it. What makes my story much different than most, is because my middle child is a kindergartner. And also, a transgender boy. All of this is VERY new to me, but my intention is to share with you along the way and maybe in the end, we will both learn something.

 

About 6 months ago my child came to me with some pretty heavy stuff. He was 4, and confused. He was convinced that in his brain, he was a boy. But his body said otherwise. He told me God had given him all of the wrong parts. He should have a penis, because, after all, he is a boy. He asked me if deep down, in my heart I know that I am a girl. Because in his heart, he feels like a boy.

 

 

 

What do you do when your very young child brings

Photo Credit: Trans Student Educational Resources

you something so incredibly profound and ADULT? In my mind, kids weren’t supposed to know about this stuff. Kids aren’t supposed to be worrying about their identity and gender or sexual orientation. They are KIDS! They should be having fun and making fart jokes and messes they don’t intend to clean up and blaming them on their brothers and sisters proudly. This was so big. So life changing (for both of us, for all of us, really).

And because someone once told me that no one wants to read a blog post over 700 words, I’m going to wrap this up and finish up in my next post. See you soon.

(Find a quick link to the rest of this story I’m rambling on about here: Trans-parenting… The Story Continues. )

Mom Transparenting.

**There are some great resources out there for parents, kids, family, friends, and anyone that just wants to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community. Here are a handful that I have found to be helpful while I’m navigating my own path with my child:

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Mom Transparenting

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