An unexpected reaction
Having your child come out as transgender brings about more emotions than one can even begin to explain. We want our children to feel loved and accepted within our four walls. So, telling our two daughters was important because we needed our child to be able to be his authentic self, at least in our own home. How do we tell them? What do we say? How will they react? What can we proactively do now to help? All these questions came to our minds. My husband thought our youngest would be most affected and I thought our oldest would be. But, we had confidence that we have raised all our children to be loving and accepting and have always supported equality for all. Our child’s therapist had me role play how to tell our teen and thought I had a good handle on it. She left us with a profound quote…”Someone’s initial reaction is not always their final reaction.”
We decided to tell our teenager first…It was awful. She immediately shut down. She couldn’t stop crying. Her head fell into her hands and she sat on the edge of the couch for over 30 minutes, sobbing. My husband and I looked at each other with dumbfounded looks. We would gently and quietly say things to help her understand what is happening. My husband even left the room and motioned for me to go over and hug her, with the hopes that she might open up to me. She didn’t. All we could get out of her was she was so confused. We excused her to her room with a printout that helps understand gender identity versus sexual identity after she refused to discuss the matter with us. We felt awful. I cried. I cried a lot that night…but, the therapists words repeated in my head, over and over.
What transpired over the next two weeks was devastating. She shunned her sibling. She was mean, angry and hostile towards all of us, but especially towards her brother. We reached out to her therapist to see if she had experience in this and could help us. She did and she could, but not until the following week. We tried not to bombard her with information, but did send a video here and there for her to watch. She was so closed off, that we didn’t think she was even listening to what the videos were talking about. The therapist met with her and told me afterwards that what we need to urge her to do at this point is acknowledge her sibling. Tell him that she is still processing the information and needs more time. She never did that. But, we did have a break through one night where the two shared some laughter over a funny video that my teenager made. It made our son so happy to share in a moment of laughter with his big sister. He misses her. He is sad. But, we keep repeating what the therapist told us and we find comfort in that.
This past weekend, I (mom) couldn’t take the meanness another second and lost my shit with her. I told her that I was so disappointed in her and that I raised her better than this. I can’t believe I have a child with so much hate in her heart. I was devastated. Devastated that my son is hurting, that my daughter is hurting, hell, I was hurting. I decided it was intervention time. I sat them both down on the couch, made them look at each other and asked our son to tell our daughter how he has felt over these last few weeks. Through tears, he shared that he was sad and hurt and misses her and that he is sorry. Ugh. That hurt me. Sorry?!?! He should never feel sorry for being his authentic self, but he was, because he has a kind heart and he could see his sister is hurting. He felt bad. I then asked my teen to share her feelings. She was so upset, started crying and said she didn’t want to talk about it, but after much reassurance that whatever she was feeling was valid and that I wouldn’t be mad at her for being honest, we got her to open up. She told us she feels ashamed and embarrassed that her sister wants to be a boy and she feels ashamed and embarrassed for feeling ashamed and embarrassed of her sister. She is also worried about what her friends will think and how to tell her friends. FINALLY. A breakthrough we can work with. We told her we appreciated her sharing her feelings and that we will help her along the way as best as we can.
I sent them back to their own rooms for a bit to process their feelings and settle back down. I know it wasn’t easy for our son to hear those words from his sisters mouth, just as it wasn’t easy for our tough, closed off teenager to share hers, but we repeated the therapists words again and we know that with time, it will get better. It’s not easy to be transgender. It’s not easy for the family either. There are so many hurdles and obstacles and road blocks and worries and fears and, and, and…I could go on forever. But, we made a breakthrough and hope that sooner, rather than later, our teenager will come around again…
❤︎ Just Parents