My oldest child is trans. To be specific, they are nonbinary and identify as neither male nor female. But this is not their story (which isn’t mine to tell), it’s my story (though I do share this with their permission).
My child is trans and it’s transgender awareness week. As a mom, all I want is for them to feel safe and know they are loved. And we have been blessed in this. My kiddo has been embraced by family, friends, and our church. They have known primarily love and acceptance. It is a HUGE BLESSING.
But this doesn’t stop me from worrying about how the world will treat my kid, and that’s because I know the journey I had to go through to find acceptance and understanding.
Sharing this information with people in Holland, MI is not always easy. I brace every time I bring it up to a new person. And many friends call me brave and say my kid is lucky to have me. I hate this. I shouldn’t have to be brave to talk about my kid. And though I was worried, it turned out it wasn’t the acceptance of others that I needed but my own.
Friends, it was my own private grief that was the hardest to deal with. I don’t mean grief that I was losing my child. It was never an option that I wouldn’t love them unconditionally, nor was it that I thought they were fundamentally different. The grief was over my own expectations and the future I thought I saw for them. All my plans, what we as a society expect will happen, had to change. I cried a lot about what the future held. Was my child, was I, going to miss out on future grandkids? A father-daughter dance at a wedding? That I no longer had a daughter but the rather cold-sounding “child”? There was a night I cried gasping sobs on Brent’s shoulder until there were no more tears. And when I had let the grief out, I was able to get up and start learning.
I watched, read, and listened to everything I could get my hands on to help me understand what this “nonbinary” meant. I joined parent groups on social media. I saw a therapist. I talked and talked with friends. After all my private grieving and learning, I eventually asked my awesome kid lots of impertinent questions, and they were so patient with me. It was a PROCESS!
And I learned that they had always felt this way, had never understood why the boy and girl cousins were separated for activities. I learned that they never wanted a father-daughter dance but loved the idea of a family dance. I learned that in telling us their truth, they had become more vibrant, more present with us, more open, talkative, and joyful. They had become even more themself, more and more my child.
And I am still learning. About my kid, and about myself. I can do hard things. I can advocate for my kid and others’ kids. Not everyone will understand this, and that’s okay. But it’s trans awareness week and I needed to speak my truth (and thanks to Mandy for letting me use this platform; PIH is a place where my kiddo, also a PIH client, and I feel so supported we can be vulnerable in body, spirit, and mind). So this blog can just end here and thank you for learning about my journey.
But if you have questions, I am happy to talk. Just ask! And if anyone is interested in joining me, I will be at the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday at Herrick’s main library. May my child never need to be included in this remembrance.
Thanks for reading.