Transition happens not only for your transgendered child, but for your entire family. After the acceptance of having a transgender child comes some confusion regarding the past. I mean, I brought home a baby boy, raised him as such, and have the pictures and memories that go along with that. And now I have a girl.
I’ve heard that some parents mourn the loss of their “former” child, and while that feels a little dramatic to me and I can’t say I’ve done exactly that, there is some truth to it. It’s like I had this one reality, and now I have a different one, and they’re both good, but sometimes it’s hard to make the abstract connect with the present-day.
What do I do with the baby book, full of all things Max? What about the tiny baby clothes and mementos I saved? The framed baby shirt, with the pertinent birth information, including name, written on it?
What about all the pictures of her childhood? Is it strange to display some? I know it’s my house and I can do whatever I want, but does it make Allie uncomfortable?
It’s hard to always feel like you have to explain things. Which is why, when I co-hosted a bridal shower at my house last year, I removed the framed baby and senior pictures from my wall – some of the invited guests were people I’d never met (as they were friends of the bride) and I just didn’t want to get into any conversations, no matter how polite or well-meaning. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; I don’t always want to spend the energy going over this with random people.
I do feel a little bad that there are some people who I’ve not shared this with yet. Some of them are in my running group, and it’s not that I thought they’d react unfavorably, but really – how, and more importantly why, would I bring it up in a random conversation? “Hey, did you have a good run today and by the way, we now have a daughter…” – yeah, no. It’s not that no one cares, it’s just that it’s not an appropriate moment. But it feels awkward as time goes on, especially when they think we have two sons.
Still, as the years have gone by, I’m less evasive with our transitional truth, and I’m having the conversation with people who I didn’t think I would…some are older, who I mistakenly thought wouldn’t understand it (they did), and some are those who I judged solely on where they live – after all, Texas is not exactly the hotbed of open-mindedness. Again, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the reaction of most people. Last Monday’s blog post was yet another step in this journey for me, and once again, I was surprised by the great response.
Who knows – maybe one day this will become so much of a non-issue that I will have a simple, de facto explanation…and the recipient of said explanation will accept it as such, because there will be much more of an awareness and commonality regarding transgender people. Until then, I continue to work at this. I'm sure I've not done it perfectly, but hey - it's not like this is one of the parenting classes you can take when you're pregnant...but oh, wouldn't that be interesting??