In the beginning (of the transgender journey)

I realize that from the outside looking in, it must seem like we really have it together. And, on many levels, we really do. We have a great relationship with our (FtM) son, he is in the process of transitioning under the expert care and guidance of knowledgeable professionals, he is accepted at school and our immediate and extended community has been nothing short of amazing.

As I spoke at length to a woman this morning, whose adult child is now transitioning from MtF, I was forced to reflect back on our own beginning. Both my kids know that they can come to me with anything. They also know that my calm exterior (when confronted with said confessions) belies the internal storm that can be brewing at any given moment.

So, how did I really handle the news that my 14 year old was transgender and what did I do?

I think, if memory serves me, I went straight for Google. Did you know that there are only so many ways you can search for transgender, gender identity, gender dysphoria, gender identity disorder (did my child have a disorder?), and hormone therapy? I googled and searched and google again. I rearranged the words thinking maybe I would land on a different result. OMG.

Hunter transition ftmHunter had been living with this information for quite some time and had done extensive research. I, on the other hand, had no idea what I was doing. My head was spinning. He needed a therapist. He wanted to start “T” (testosterone). How do we find the right experts?

My husband and I were at odds. He wasn’t convinced that this was a “done deal.” I knew in my heart that it was. We were concerned about therapy. What if the therapist tried to talk him out of being trans? What if the therapist pushed him too fast to transition? What if…

So, I dragged my feet a bit. While we are very open and “out” now, two years ago I certainly wasn’t going to post a note on Facebook looking for resources.

“Hey, FB friends, anyone know of a reputable gender therapist?” Nah…that wasn’t going to happen.

In time, I began to share the news, selectively and sporadically. I think the first person I reached out to was an old friend. Jill* had been the kids’ nanny the summer Olivia was born. She was smart, fun, creative, kind and gay. I knew she would be safe and helpful. So, that’s where I started just about two years ago.

The beginning was really rocky. Teenage hormones were kicking in. Female parts were showing up uninvited. Each day brought new challenges. We were open to the idea of our child being transgender but we really weren’t ready for all the necessary steps that needed to be taken. I think at that point I didn’t fully get it.

All I knew is that I loved my child. At this point I felt that we were fighting for his life. We were fighting for the survival of our family. Yes, the beginning was rough. If I can be the crystal ball for someone else’s beginning and shine a beacon of hope on their rocky start, I will have done my job.

*names were changed

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16 thoughts on “In the beginning (of the transgender journey)

  1. Our journey was almost identical. My son has now had top surgery & we have filed the petition for the legal name and gender marker change.

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  2. I have never met you, nor am I likely to this side of heaven…but know this: I genuinely love you for what you are doing, giving, being for your child. As a mid 50s transitioner, I tear up when I think back and wonder, how it could have been…

    you are giving your child the gift of freedom from a whole raft of regret that just passes right on by without any awareness that it is even there.

    oh sure, there will be others…but of a kind normal and consistent with most people.

    bless you…bless you…Bless You!
    Charissa

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  3. Once again, I’m nodding my head as I read. Been there too. I am currently working on a post that is similar. Of course, your entire post resonates with me because I have lived it myself but the part that gives my heart a twist is when you say you were fighting for his life and the survival of your family. How incredibly true!!!

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  4. As a parent of a 5YO assigned girl who told us recently that he is a boy, we are just at the beginning of our journey. It helps to know both that the inevitable rocky times are a normal part of the process and that there is a light ahead at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for being such a wonderful parent and for sharing your story.

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    • Nadine,
      Feel free to reach out to any one of the Ally Moms.
      I would say that at five years old the good news is that you have lots of time to process and let your child be the guide (most of the time).
      Thanks for your note.
      Roz

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  5. Wow..Thank you for writing this. I felt so alone when this happened. Mine announced he was a boy at 17 1/2..shocked us completely. No signs growing up, though wasn’t overly girly.. I went through such profound feelings of loss , I grieved badly, even while doing what you did, researching, trying to figure it all out, looking for a therapist. I am not completely done with the grieving, even though it’s been 3 years. Eli is s junior in college now. We fought to wait on the top surgery until after college , but insurance approved it last summer. I gave up fighting then, figured it was time to let him make his own decisions. He had therapy and was considered an adult. We just didn’t want him to regret it later. I got very depressed last week, when E went to legally change his name. I cried for 3 days and still am some. He was born the only girl in my family, my mother’s only granddaughter and was given my grandmother’s name. My husband still hasn’t accepted it. E isn’t doing T at this point. He may later, but I am hoping he waits through college, mainly what will hurt if that happens is the loss of the voice. This kid is an amazing soprano..Anyway, thanks for writing. I am glad I have found some of the pages and such..it’s comforting to know I am not alone.

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    • You are definitely not alone! We spend a number of years thinking we have a son or daughter and then POOF! Everything is different. It takes a lot of getting used to. I try to remember that he is still the same person on the inside. Hunter started “T” 9 weeks ago and I’ve noticed a slight deepening of the voice. The nice thing is that it’s gradual. It’s not like they wake up one day with a full beard and pronounced adam’s apple. Your son is probably much happier and well-adjusted now that he can be himself and that you are loving him. I hope your husband can come around. I’ve been contacted by a number of supportive dads so if your husband ever wants to “chat” just let me know.
      Keep me posted,
      Roz

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  6. To row and sarahd: thank you, thank you, thank you. My 17 1/2 year old son told me at Christmas is a transgender female. It has been full of confusion, panic, anxiety, tears, Zoloft, love, acceptance, support and we are all alone. His dad is dead and my siblings have always been distant so it is just us. I feel much better reading this knowing I am not alone. I will support my son to the limit even though I still fear the pain I might go through. I worry for him because it seems less common for the MtF and I worry for safety reasons. I am trying to get the therapy started but don’t want to be the one picking the therapist. Boy this parenting never gets any easier does it.

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