On Raising My Transgender Child.
I am the proud mother of three superbly amazing children. Well one adult and two children. One big two small. One boy two girls. However I originally produced three girls. Or so I thought. And there is so much irony attached when I reflect back. What and how I named my son then daughter with an androgynous name I chose when I was eleven years old for my first child. The way people always said, ‘oh didn’t you ever want to try for a boy?’ I mean my answer was no, I wanted a healthy baby not a gender but that is beside the point. I did think having a boy would be nice, but was happy with the healthy and happy girl children I had been blessed with.
When my son (formerly daughter) first told me he was transgender at the tender age of fifteen, I felt many things. A sense of loss but for something that I never really properly felt I had, something that made his femaleness tangible. But predominantly I felt like a bad parent. As I didn’t understand how I didn’t know or sense that he was transgender. I always knew my son wasn’t the regular girl. I refrain from saying normal because rhetorically what is normal. I just thought that eventually he would tell me he was gay or bi, and either would’ve been fine. I couldn’t have cared less what he was, despite knowing it may make his life more complex. I wasn’t ready for trans though, because I had no real relationship with it, didn’t really understand it, but I also knew he could’ve told me he was pink with green spots and I would always be there.
I was told whilst on a long car journey across France and Spain and despite my relief that my son could tell me this huge thing part of me wanted to run away from the conversation, because I knew things would never be the same again. I felt trapped. With the knowledge of something that would never change. That life would be doubly hard for him now, being a young Black trans boy. My son had read an article about being trans, and realised he was essentially reading about himself. Overall though, it made me happy and thankful that he was relieved to have worked out who he ‘was’. A boy in a girl’s body.
My son was always adorably gawky, nerdy and geeky, but fundamentally he wasn’t always wholly comfortable all the time in his own skin. I would visit a girlfriends home whose daughter is nine months or so younger and it was so apparent how ‘ungirly’ he was. The friends’ teen daughter was the epitome of girliness; nails, hair, makeup etc. but he was none of it. At all. And yes at times I secretly just wished for my child to feel like he fit. Not so much for me but for him. Just so I could not worry about him and be reassured that my child was inherently happy within himself.
My son’s transition really kicked off on the twelfth of the twelfth of the twelfth. Before he actually came out to me in the car. Will never forget either day. After much madness he cut off all his hair. I initially took such umbrance with it. But as soon as it was done I understood. How much happier he was and it made him. How much more him it was. How much more at ease he was. The beginning of peace for him.
My son despite his revelations that summer sensibly decided to finish off his GCSE’s as a girl in his current secondary to make it easier for others and thus himself, and I thought that was so brave. To have realised what you are but to also accept that you can continue managing as you are for long term gain. It was a really reflective and adult thing to do and commit to. Despite the complexities of teen and trans life my son did exceedingly well, and went onto start sixth form as a young man. It was an extremely proud day for our family and I. He has gone from strength to strength, securing 13 A*-B grades and finishing his ‘A’ levels very well. School wasn’t for him despite being very adept at it and he decided university wasn’t for him either. He wanted to use his passions with artistic flair and natural creativity in a working environment and secured one of seven places in an amazing media apprenticeship out of three thousand applicants. He can be a pain in the proverbial like any child, but he knows what he wants and goes for it. He is a boy to be proud of.
I realise now how much I worried about other people’s perceptions of my son. And how much more protective I became. I openly recognise how fearful I was initially, as I know how cruel and insular some can be, especially kids. However I learnt how open minded and liberal today’s young are, some being wise beyond their years. I teach students every day and see how mean kids can be to each other, but I also equally see how much they understand and accept. I learn something from a child every day, including my own. But I was amazed and so thankful that my son despite minor hiccups was embraced by so many. Including elders. And those that I thought wouldn’t.
I am superbly proud of my nearly nineteen-year-old son and small daughters. It has been both a blessing and a privilege to both raise him and witness the great adult person he has become. And equally amazing to watch how his sisters openly adore him and how easily they have adjusted to his changes through open and simplistic realness and communication. I talk about him openly to all and use his story to educate the young children I teach. I support him in all his endeavours, as does his dad and our family. It has taken a village to raise this child. And what a village he has. We are blessed to have him, but he is also blessed. I hear of stories of other trans kids via him, whose experiences are wholly different and very damaging. It doesn’t bother me that his life may not follow usual patterns, that he may or not remain living and working in this country, that he may not produce natural children or any in fact. All that I want for him is peace of mind and happiness, and success in all that he attempts. What touches me is the realness of regularity there is now on this journey with my son. And his number one fan will be rooting him all the way, whatever he does and however he does it. I know I am not a bad parent for not guessing, because no one did. Not even him. And I realised that it’s ok for him not to fit. He does. He fits himself.
*This awesome Mother and her beautiful son have asked that this is posted anonymously.