Supporting My Transgender Child
When My Daughter Became My Son
I suppose I should have seen it coming, but I really didn't. In hindsight I suppose I should have probably had a clue when he would no longer use the bathrooms at school or any other public place. Or when he was so distraught about bathing suits, bra's and even how he looked in a tank top. He's always preferred wearing really baggy clothing even when all the other 'girls' in his class were wearing skinny jeans and revealing tops. Although, I must admit I am glad that was never an issue.
But honestly, having my (almost) 16 year old bi-sexual daughter come out as a 16 year old bi-sexual boy wasn't really as mind-blowing as I would have thought. Yes, for a minute I was a little perplexed, mostly because I thought I truly knew him. I knew he was gay long before he told me. Shouldn't I have known this as well? Regardless, I accepted it, tossed in a few jokes for good measure and moved on with our regular banter. I knew that was what would make him most comfortable. Because if I taught him anything, it was how to show love and acceptance while still being a complete smart ass.
Why I've Developed a Hate for Pronouns
The only battle I am fighting right now is my habitual use of what is now the wrong pronoun. It's not even the fact that I have been calling him a her for his entire life. Up until he came out I had two daughters and a son. And quite frankly, the dominant pronoun wound up being 'she'. I have had to correct myself umpteen million times after calling my youngest child a 'her'. In fact, we have 5 pets in total 2 boys and 3 girls and as far as I am concerned, they are all 'her'.
I guess you could blame it on my age, on mom brain, or just on me not paying attention. But as of right now, I hate pronouns. Hopefully, a little while down the road when I have more time to get used to having two sons and a daughter, I will gain a better handle on my use of pronouns.
Why I Support My Transgender Child
My children are my life. No matter what they do or who they become, I will be there for them. I could never turn my back on my child. Although I may not have expected my child to come out as transgender, I am so glad the he felt that he could tell me. I am not only proud of my strong, artistic, loving, transgender child, but I am proud of myself for raising a child that is able to identify and own who he is. And that he felt he could be honest with me.
When a person comes out as transgender, they know there is going to be shock and confusion involved. But all they need is for you to tell them that you still love them, and that you accept them. They are still going to be who they are whether you do or not, but having your support is important. And that is why I will always be there for my children.
Taking the Right Steps to Support Your Transgender Child
- First of all, you must realize that you don't have to understand someone's identity in order to respect it. You really just need to accept that this is how they feel, how they identify, and who they are. By trying to debate it, you could very well end up pushing them away.
- If you are in shock, or do not understand, that is perfectly normal. Just tell them, they know that there are going to be questions. Just let them know that you love them, and accept them. Tell them you are confused or are in shock and just ask for some time. Time to get your bearings, time to do some research, or just time to think about what it means.
- Listen to them and use their language. If you do not know which pronouns to use, just ask. They have probably asked themselves the same questions that you would ask them. It's better to take a direct approach. If you are having a hard time transitioning to the new pronouns. Just apologize and let them know that it may take you some time to get a handle on it but it doesn't mean you do not respect them.
- Don't make gender assumptions. One of the most annoying things you can do to a transgender person is to make gender assumptions. Do not assume that because they identify as a man that they are now going to start grunting, farting and playing football. Or that because they identify as a woman that they are going to start watching ballet and stop watching hockey. Just let them be who they are and do what they like. Just like you want for yourself.
- Don't 'OUT' the person who confided in you. It is up to them when they tell their story, not you.
- Educate yourself. No matter how much you think you know about gender identity, you can always learn more. Read as much as you can. Find out how you can best support the transgender person in your life.
© 2017 Kayla Hebert