Just Parents in Life

Journey through our trials and triumphs of raising a transgender child and his two sisters.

Month: June, 2016

Making friends

Last week, our son was in his room playing legos and I (mom) went in to check on him. He seemed down, so I asked what was bothering him. He looked up at me with those sad, big eyes and said “I’m just lonely.” Ugh…my heart broke in half hearing those words. He doesn’t really have any close friends, nobody has reached out to him since school got out and now more than ever, he needs a friend or two that he can count on. He needs to feel like he fits in somewhere, that he belongs somewhere, somewhere that is safe for him to be himself. I told him we will start trying to find new friends and we decided to go to a support meeting that was coming up.

So, last night, I took our son to his first local PFLAG meeting that offers support to adults and those under 18. I had not been back since my initial meeting back in March and was hoping that the teens/tweens would show up and more importantly be kind to our son. When we walked through the door, we were greeted by my first friend and confidant, who got me to that meeting and we were both surprised and happy to see each other. Neither of us had been back since that meeting a few months ago. It made my heart happy to see her and she took our son right into the room where some teens were already at and introduced him to those she knew and said to take good care of him. I felt at peace as we sat down for our meeting. Several times, throughout our meeting, we could hear loud laughter coming from their room and that made me happy to hear that they are sharing fun things with each other as well as the heavy, deep stuff that comes from being LGBTQ.

When our meeting was over, my son came bouncing out with the biggest smile I had ever seen. His face was lit up! The teens were in tow right behind him and he asked if he could go to In N Out with all of them. I looked up and saw a group of teens that were clearly older than our son, but they were all smiling just as much. When I asked for the details, they let me know that they all fell in love with our son and think he is adorable and funny and that they were going to eat some burgers and wanted him to come too. So, we followed the teens over to eat some burgers. I sat at a nearby table to give him some space, but be close enough to sort of listen in. This group of kids were wonderful! They were fun, they were all cracking jokes and sharing fun stories, they made up names for each other and were all assigned a role in our sons life. He was given a mom, dad, aunt, uncle, godmother and godfather. They exchanged social media information since our son does not have a phone yet and just had a great time. One of the boys came over near me and I thanked him for being so kind and welcoming to our son and he genuinely said that although he just met him, he really likes him and thinks he is a great kid. My heart melted. These teens all had something in common – kind hearts, big personalities, loving souls.  You just can’t ask for more than that out of a teenager!

Before we left, they all took a group selfie, gave hugs and told our son that they hope to see him at the next meeting. Sometimes, you just need to feel like you belong and these teens did so much for our sons spirit. I can’t thank them enough…

❤︎ Just Parents

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It was worth the drive…

This past Sunday, my hubby, myself and our son went to our first transgender family support group hosted by some affiliates of the Hospital that will be treating our son through his transition. The hospital, with no traffic, is an hour and a half away and on a Sunday afternoon, can be a bit of a mess to get to. We have been planning to go for several weeks because there is a group for us parents and a group for our tween to find support. This was going to be his first experience with meeting others just like him. He was so excited and counting down the days.

When we woke up Sunday morning, we woke up to the devastation that happened to our LGBTQ family in Orlando. I (mom) found myself a sobbing mess most of the morning. I cried into my husbands shoulders about how heartbroken I was and how scared I was. How that could have been my brother and brother in law, how that could have been my brothers friends, that have become our friends over the years, that it could be our son one day. It was just too much for me. I really felt broken. I reached out to my brother to tell him how much I love him and how sad I was. We texted back and forth for a little bit and then, we saw the news about the man arrested in Los Angeles earlier that morning and I started crying again, this time feeling really defeated. How could there be so much hate in this world?!?! Why?!?! What is wrong with people?!?!  We were heading to LA in just a few hours and my hubby said we shouldn’t go, so, of course,  I cried some more. But, then I said, we have to. We can’t live in fear, we are not going to be super close to the Pride Festivities, so we have to go. I am so glad we did.

When we walked into the support group meeting, we were immediately overwhelmed with how many families were there! My first thought was that there is this huge underground transgender community that nobody knows about. Now, I know that is an exaggeration, but it made me giggle and feel a little better. It made us feel good, less alone and proud that so many families were here for the same thing, to give support to their child and get support for themselves. We knew we were going to be ok, that these people were so welcoming and that it was worth the long drive.

When the meeting was over, we couldn’t wait to find our son and see how his group went. I (mom) was overwhelmed with how many people were in the hallway, when we exited our meeting room, and my eyes started frantically skimming over everyone looking for my baby. Then, we found him. Smiling and laughing. Talking to two other boys. My heart swelled. He said goodbye to his new friends and we headed out. The whole ride home was wonderful. He shared a lot of what they talked about, the other kids names and ages, where they are at in their transition as it relates to his, what he learned, what he shared, etc etc. He just kept smiling and then, he said something that was music to our ears. “Im just so happy. I can’t stop smiling.” My heart melted. It was amazing to hear your child, who has struggled for years to feel like he fits in, feel like he’s fitting in.

I asked my husband what his thoughts were on the meeting, what he liked or didn’t like about it, what he took away from the meeting, and he said he felt that we didn’t have it as bad as many of the other families that shared their stories. That made me feel good. Every single day is something new. Some days are good. Some days are a struggle, but after hearing so many other families stories, we were able to see that we are truly blessed with some amazing family and friends who have rallied around us and offered nothing but love and support. We will be going back. For our son, for us. It was worth the drive…

❤︎ Just Parents

 

What’s in a name…

Since our child told us he is transgender, he said he needed a new name. That his name reminded him of all things girl and he just needed a new name. We tried to reason with him that maybe one of the reasons all our daughters were named gender neutral names, was because we somehow knew and that his name could easily pass for a male name as well. It didn’t work. We have spent months pondering a new name. I (mom)  had requirements for what needed to be in the name. Some may think that is crazy or selfish, but I don’t care. 😉 I told my child that my one right after birthing my baby was to choose whatever name I WANTED. I told him, he can change his name, but I have to approve of it.

We made the decision that once school was out, he could start living completely in his new name and new pronouns, but we just couldn’t decide on that name. Who knew so much thoughts and opinions would go into a name?!?! Not only was it my husband and I trying to decide, we now how to include our son in this new naming process. It is so hard to find a perfect name for your baby, but it is even harder to name your child 11 years later.

We were driving last week, two days before school got out, and I threw out a name and added the name our child wanted as the middle name. He liked it! Our youngest daughter was in the car and she like it too! So, we got home and talked to Daddy. He pondered it for a minute and I started to worry that he didn’t like it and we would be back to square one. He said the name out loud and shook his head yes and said he liked it. That was it! We named our 11 year old son for the first time, in the garage on a Tuesday evening. LOL Whew! I felt a sense of relief and that we were finally ready to start our Summer with our son and two daughters.

❤︎ Just Parents

Telling the grandparents

So, we have been living with this big secret for the last several months, or so we thought. Our child told us in February that she is really a he, that he is transgender. We only told a couple very close family members at first. We didn’t want to tell anyone until we were able to sit in what this meant, until we could tell our other two children and had a grasp on what path we were taking. We decided that after school is out, that our child can fully transition to male and that we would ask everyone to start using correct pronouns and name choice. Well, school is almost out and we haven’t told either side of grandparents yet.

I (mom) have been so afraid to tell my parents. I kept coming up with excuses as to why it should be next week…First a birthday, then Mother’s Day, then my moms birthday. I knew I had to tell them, but nerves kept getting the best of me. What would they say? Would their old school thinking make this hard to understand? What questions are they going to have for me? How can I get through this quickly? I knew I had to do it, but just couldn’t muster up the strength, until today.

Today, my mom called to chat. I was talking to her on the phone while driving and something came over me. I decided in that moment to start driving to her house. I asked if my dad was home and what they were doing. I didn’t tell my mom I was coming over until I was almost there. I waited until my dad entered the room and asked if he could sit down because I needed to talk to them. They both looked scared for a second and my dad, the jokester that he is, said “You’re pregnant!” and we all laughed. It helped break the worry that was leaking into the air.  I told him no, but that might be easier news to hear. Then, I just took a deep breath and started speaking.

My parents know our child has been suffering for many years, but like us, wasn’t really sure what the issue was. They saw our struggles with raising our child, they knew about therapy sessions, ADHD diagnosis and depression issues. My mom has said many times, I wish I knew what was inside this childs head. So, I started with all of this and how we have all wondered what the root of our childs issues were and then I just said it. Our child was born in the wrong body and is a boy. My parents reaction was beautiful. My mom said “we love our grandchildren, no matter what.” It was music to my ears. They didn’t have any fear in their faces, they didn’t push back with any sort of “are you sure?” moments. They just embraced what I was saying and listened intently. I explained everything that is and has been going on. I filled them in on how our two daughters handled it, what our plan for next school year is, doctors appointments that are coming up and the support groups we have found to help us.

My mom shared that she was having a conversation with a co-worker last week and told her friend that her granddaughter looks like a boy and prefers boy things. It made me happy to hear that and that my mom is not ashamed of the fact. I am realizing that people around us are seeing this slow transition over the last several years and that it really isn’t all that shocking or surprising to them once we tell them and a few have approached me with their support without me ever saying a word to them.

The only question they asked was by my dad who wanted to know what exactly does transgender mean and how does that affect his grandchild. I took the time to explain gender identity versus sexual identity and that we are not talking about sexual identity. We are not sure who our child is sexually attracted to yet, and really are not concerned with that. We are working with a child whose gender that was assigned at birth does not match the brain this child was assigned. I explained that his gender expression has been predominately male for the last several years and that we have now realized that we need to support a full gender transition to male. I explained that we need to start working on proper pronouns (he/him) and will need to start referring to him with a new name that has yet to be agreed upon.

They were so loving and supportive and my mom even said she was sorry that we were carrying the weight of this alone for so many months. On my way home, I had a moment of relief wash over me and realized just how hard it must have been for our child to find the strength to tell us. I am so proud of him for being so brave at such a young age. It is not easy to share something with your parents when there is fear of rejection, even as an adult. I couldn’t have been more relieved to hear and feel their love and support and cannot wait for our child to come home from school so I can share the good news with him.

❤︎ Just Parents

Is school out yet?!?!

So, about that manual?!?! We could sure use one sometimes…The issues that arise from raising a transgender child are all consuming and sometimes overwhelming. We are counting down the days for school to get out. It has been an extremely rough last half of the school year. Our son has been transitioning and we haven’t announced it to the world yet, so the school children are seeing our child as even more different than they already did.

The boys don’t want our child to play with them citing “no girls allowed” and the girls don’t want to play with our child because they don’t like to play, they like to hang out and talk about “girl stuff” according to our son. Our child wants to play. Play soccer, play kickball, play basketball, play anything. He does not want to sit around and talk about girl stuff. It’s heartbreaking to hear that he doesn’t fit in anywhere and we cannot wait for this school year to end.

Hearing about kids pointing their finger and laughing at your child are harsh. Hearing about kids making fun of our child makes our blood boil. Hearing that our child is spending his recesses alone is heartbreaking. Watching our child sit alone is the worst. I (mom) have seen it with my own eyes when I have been on campus.

It is so hard to figure out if we are doing the right thing. Should we have announced to the school he is transgender and will now be referred to as male? Should we have pulled him from school to prevent the sadness? What is the right thing to do? What is the wrong thing to do? So many questions that nobody holds the answer to. It’s times like these that we wish there was a manual.

We are excited to finish out fifth grade so that there can be a full transition. The plan is to start sixth grade at a new school (still figuring this out and that manual could be useful) as a boy. Hopefully, the stresses of school ending will eliminate some of the moodiness and behavior issues our son has been experiencing. Wish us luck as we try to navigate the other school options that exist. We only have one more week of school as a girl who looks like a boy, we hope we can make it…

❤︎ Just Parents