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 daughter has expressed in some pretty profound ways that she 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?!?
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 she 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 their lead to wherever it takes us on this path, the consequences of that are astonishingly 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.
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.
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 love every minute of it.
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.
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 biological kids and 2 future step kids. Which puts me in an awkward position when trying to describe who these children are to me out in public. “So those are your….” Those are my fiance’s kids. Fiance implies that we are engaged, but because we aren’t technically married yet, they aren’t technically my step children, and because I don’t want the side eye from you…. I’m just going to say “future step kids” and annoy the shit out of myself in the process. They live with me (us) half of the time, they fight and bicker with my kids like natural siblings do. They talk to me like any kid talks to their parent when they are pissed off, with attitude and disdain.
I get summoned into the room in the middle of the night during a bad dream, or requested to cuddle one of them when they are having a hard time going back to sleep. I make their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners when they are with us and I would like to think I treat them the same (or pretty damn close) as my own children. But, as far as the general population (in my experience) is concerned, I don’t carry the title of “Stepmom” yet, and therefore, they aren’t my “step kids”…. yet.
My ex husband and I do not speak and he’s not a part of my kid’s 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 we are two working parents, coming together like the freakin modern day Brady Bunch, except penniless and in desperate need of Alice to come clean our tiny house. 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 (then) daughter came to me with some pretty heavy stuff. She was 4, and confused with herself, and convinced that in her brain, she was a boy. She told me God had given her all of the wrong parts. She should have a penis, because, after all, she is a boy. She asked me if deep down, in my heart I know that I am a girl. Because in her heart, she feels like a boy.
What do you do when your very young child brings 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. )
**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:
- Gender Spectrum
- TransYouth Family Allies
- World Professional Association for Transgender Health
- Trans Student Educational Resources
- The Trevor Project