Thanksgiving day 2015
When he was in high school, our youngest wrote us a letter explaining that he felt like he was born into the wrong body, and had felt that way for a long time.
My first reaction was confusion, followed by fear. Confusion because I honestly hadn’t seen indications of this when he was younger, and fear because hello – have you seen how awful people are to anyone who is different? I grew up with a friend who came out as gay in junior high school, and he was picked on and bullied for years. His life ended at 21. And while being gay has become more of an accepted thing (FINALLY), the transgender community seems to be the next group that is dealing with being bullied, discriminated against, and even murdered. Would any of you want your child, your precious child, to be put up against that? Of course not. So we did what most parents would probably do in this situation, which was to find a therapist for him, and for us.
And if I’m completely honest, I will admit that I hoped this would just fade away.
Of course, it didn’t. Because it was real.
Up until now, I haven’t blogged about this for a couple of reasons. One, it’s not my story to tell. Well, I have my interpretation, as a parent, but it’s her life. Two, privacy. When she graduated from college, she walked the stage as a woman, and both of her diplomas (yes, while she was transitioning she managed to get two Bachelor of Science degrees, in Mathematics and Computer Science…sorry, I had to brag on that just a little) have her new name on them. She started her first career job as a woman. This is who she is, and I didn’t want to have any online searches linking to her former self.
She made the entire Thanksgiving dinner herself this year!
I’m posting about this now because when we went to her place for Thanksgiving, she said something like “I suppose you’ll blog about this without mentioning me” – which is sad, because it makes it seem like she has disappeared from our lives, which is the farthest thing from the truth. She’s just been invisible on the blog. But she said it was OK for me to write this, so after several drafts (and her final approval), here you go.
I think every parent has the same wish for their children at birth - to be healthy. And as they grow, we want them to be happy and content, along with having the hope that they become good people. Even during the earliest, hardest times of the acceptance part of this, I kept thinking that she was happy, and that’s what mattered. She was healthy, she was bright, and she was still the same person we knew – but as her outward appearance changed, her confidence grew and grew.
It became obvious that this needed to happen. I can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up every day and not see the real you in the mirror. It takes a lot of inner strength to do this at such a young age, and I’m impressed that she did what she needed to do in order to be her own person.
I’m not putting her real name on here, but if you are Facebook friends with me then you probably know what it is, and I trust that you will respect my wish to not post it here in the comments. I’ll call her Allie here, because we would have named her Allison, had she been born in a girl’s body.
The reaction from our family and close friends regarding the change has been very positive, which is wonderful. I’ve only had one instance of being surprised at the reaction from a friend, but whatever – it’s her issue to deal with, not mine.
One more thing: this world can be vile. I think the advent of social media, and Facebook in particular, has made being different scarier than ever before. I don’t understand why anyone would care if someone is transgender, or gay, or wants to be married to the person they love. How does this affect their life? It doesn’t, plain and simple. People who I know in person, and who I used to like, have shown themselves to be very mean human beings online; the things they shared regarding transgender people have disappointed me immensely and needless to say, I have unfriended a lot of people on Facebook, and I won't hesitate to do that in person, if necessary. My family comes first, period.
If you have questions, I’ll probably do a follow-up post and answer them. Thanks for reading.