Saturday, December 17, 2016

Her Mom, Her Champion, Hers Always


When I was a child, I never expected that one day I’d be a mother. Having children of my own was the furthest thing from my mind. I honestly couldn’t envision being responsible enough to raise children. So when the time came that my husband and I were ready to start a family, we vowed to be the best parents we could. We read all the parenting books we could, researched child development articles, and made mental notes of all the milestones we needed to look for. None of these books, however, explained what to do when our three and a half year old child began telling us she was a girl, not a boy. I was a young mother, and new to this world of parenting so my reaction was one part immerse myself in any research I could find, which was little help, and one part freak out and call the doctor.



Luckily my pediatrician was supportive. Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to assist a child expressing a difference in gender identity than the one assigned at birth. Like us, she didn’t know how to handle a transgender child--what we eventually realized our child was--so she sent us to speak with a developmental psychologist. By then, around late 2006-early 2007, our almost four year old child adamantly identified as female, but there weren’t many medical professionals who agreed a young child could be transgender. The ones we did meet with told us our child’s “gender confusion” was a product of me being a stay-at-home mom and my husband not being masculine enough to model proper male behavior. These “experts” quoted studies that were either extremely outdated or bogus research conducted by anti-transgender organizations.


Constant Sadness (Age 3 1/2, 2006)

Being bombarded with less than accepting rhetoric, and as a young mother who constantly doubted myself, almost should have been enough to keep me from truly hearing my daughter. Indeed, I almost listened to this professional. Fear and lacking educational resources nearly had me shut down my child’s insistent, consistent, and persistent declarations. I was almost scared into submission by wild claims about my child’s mental well-being and future happiness I almost stopped her.
Fortunately, that’s not how this path ended. Now, almost ten years later, I am blessed to witness the happiness of my daughter Trinity, as she blossoms into a beautiful young woman.  Every scenario the psychologist laid out—of my child’s inevitable confusion and pain—didn’t happen. And yet, as a mother, who works hard at protecting her while giving her the wings to fly, never would I had realized just how vital my decision to choose her over the naysayers would be.




Finally HER! (age 4, 2007)
Recently, Trinity told me of a dream she had where she found herself lost in a large city. Scared she ran from shadow monsters spewing words of hate in regards to who she was. She explained how she cried and fled, unsure where to turn. She prayed someone would come to help her. It was then, the sky cleared and the monsters turned away, and suddenly dispersed. When she looked to see what frightened them, there I stood. I had my hand held out to her and told her to not worry. I smiled and asked her to be brave, and then led her home.
As my daughter relayed this vivid dream of hers, I experienced a multitude of emotions. I couldn’t form words. So, I did what I’ve always done for her: I listened. Smiling she told me, “My dream reminded me that no matter how many monsters are around me, I have you to show me how to be brave and to lead me home.”


Heading to NY and all smiles

Thinking of Trinity’s dream makes me reflect on my initial uncertainty as how to best support her. She has been my child for thirteen years, my daughter for almost a decade, and I can’t wait to see what the next ten years will bring. The beginning of my journey was filled with people who questioned her ability to speak with such clarity about who she was. Ones who used scare tactics meant to create fear, anxiety, and doubt. Methods that were meant to stop me, and stop her. But I wouldn’t fall.

So I ask new parents to this journey, to just breathe. Some articles will be filled with data that are against children socially transitioning. Some people will make comments that are meant to create doubt.  Don’t let that deter you. I’ve been there as well so do know how acceptance is so very important to trans children. Because for me doing just that, I have been gifted with an amazing kid. This girl of mine has taught me so much more than how to simply parent, but also how to listen with unconditional love. And she has taught me that when she has a world of so many great leaders, activists, and celebrities which she could have looked up to, it’s me she sees as her hero. She has shown me how to be a better parent, and a better person. The person who never gives up on her. The person who she has to turn to. Who see her. The one who will always choose her. My Trinity


My Trinity

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It Takes A Village and My Daughter Has The Greatest One Yet

Becoming a mother has been one of the most exhausting and humbling experiences of my life. Some would say I'm a veteran mom having been gifted four times with some amazing kiddos. And I love them with as much of my soul as humanly possible. However, my younger three sons should give thanks to their big sister, Trinity. She is the one who made me a mother. Coming into my life, I suddenly went from DeShanna to Mom. No, I haven't lost my individuality, I simply, as she likes to say, leveled up in life. When she told me she was a girl at the young age of three, finally socially transitioning at age four, I went from Mom to something far greater than I expected.

You see, raising a transgender child, my first child, took me to a higher level emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I saw in this young person a strength I was often too afraid to show. Her telling me who she was; her authentic self, revealed a side of vulnerability. Someone so small opening her heart in hopes I wouldn't shred it. And I didn't, obviously! I then learned to be strong and humble and vulnerable. Which has helped me a lot during my 13 years of parenting.

Yet, I could never say I did this alone. Perhaps in the beginning, yes, as it was 2007 and there weren't many resources of parents with young transgender children. But now, I have a community, no, I have a VILLAGE and my daughter (along with her brothers) are truly lucky. I'm writing this post to name some (there are so many) who have come into our lives and given my daughter the best chance at life and love in the world.



1. Sarah McBride 

A Delaware Native, like myself, Sarah helped me understand how to fight for my daughter when the time came for her to get the puberty blockers she needed. She is kind and honestly, the "best big sister I ever had"-Trinity. Sarah has done so much for the LGBTQ community and especially reaching out and helping families like ours. I adore her more than she could ever know.


2. Monica Roberts

I met Monica for the first time at the Philly Trans Health Conference and since then, she has been one of the biggest inspirations to myself and Trinity. She has a vast knowledge of history, especially within the transgender community, and gives my daughter the words of encouragement and love that even I can't sometimes provide. You can see just how great she is by going to her blog TransGriot


3. Angelica Ross

After we went public for a video done by Trans United Fund titled "Meet My Child" Trinity caught one of the not nicer comments in response to the video and was hurt. This was really the first time she experienced this and while I tried to tell her not to worry, it didn't seem to help. Angelica Ross spoke with Trinity via Skype and helped my child so very much. When they realized they were also both girls who love to code, there was a bond made. Angelica sparked a fire in my child and her goal became to be a great transgender video game developer. Angelica continues to do amazing things and as my daughter watches, I see her too striving to be just as great.


4. Vanessa and J R Ford

 I've known Vanessa and J R through the online community, but finally got the chance to meet them IRL (In Real Life) recently and I felt like I found a long lost line of my family! They too are the parents of a transgender child so having that connection really helped. They are two amazing people and my children are so lucky to have them part of our village. Trinity is also super best friends (her words) with J R!


5. Debi Jackson



Debi is a fire cracker and fierce advocate. Mother of a trans child as well, she is so very outspoken about the rights our children deserve that you can't help but listen. Some may not agree, but dang it, you WILL listen! Finally getting the chance to meet her as well, I know that if Trinity ever needed it, Debi would be there to call out anyone who had something negative to say. She is working tirelessly to make this world a better place for our children and so many others.

6. Cathy Renna



Cathy and I got to know each other after the launch of the video and while she started off as a publicist, she is now family. My children adore her! They also call her aunty (she didn't know that but after reading this she will!) because that's who she is. She has been there as someone to listen to me when I'm down and lift me up so I can continue to be the advocate for my child and others. She is a true warrior and I'm glad she fell into our lives!


7. Rep. Paul Baumbach (DE-D)

Paul helped me immensely finding a way to get Trinity the proper healthcare she needed to stop puberty. Hearing our story of the fight to get Medicaid to approve her in church, he immediately reached out to me and asked how he could help. That started the friendship and bond we have now. He's been to my daughter's birthday and is by far one of the most genuine and wonderful man I know. He's the reason I take voting so much more seriously now as well!

8. Governor Jack Markell (DE-D)



Gov. Markell met with our family after we had won the battle with Medicaid. This man helped set the protections my state has for LGBTQ people so that they can't be discriminated against. He is authentic, funny, and can really handle when a toddler demands to be picked up and held! I'm so glad he was my state's Governor and that he is now part of our village to keep families like our safe. 


9. Online Community

I have mentioned before that there weren't many places online I could go to and find the information, as well as, support I needed in 2007. That remained relatively true for a long time. Now, I'm thrilled that there are places I can go and vent and have the love and support I need. My daughter has a large community that knows of her and will be there for her if needed. It touches me to see the growth of acceptance for transgender children that I didn't necessarily experience when we started out almost a decade ago. They all know who they are and I love and thank them for welcoming me into their embrace. 



So, that's just some of the ones who have really made my village a wonderful place for myself and my daughter. My whole family really. They've had a hand in shaping us to be who we are now and given us the strength to stand up for what's right. I'm not just a mom, I'm not just an advocate for my daughter, I'm her world and now she has an even bigger one to help guide, support, and love her as she grows up. Thank you all. Thank you so very much for everything. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

To The Killers Of Trans Women, My Daughter Will Be Your Undoing


NOTE: I know trans men are also victims of violence. I wanted to focus on the recent murders of the trans women however as that topic pertains to me raising a trans daughter.


I have sat for days, seeing the many murders of trans women, trying to write up my feelings. Trying to express what's been going through my mind. All I could muster up is, I'm heartbroken. I'm hurting. I'm so, so very scared.

Trinity caught me crying after the recently reported murder of Dee Whigham and asked me why anyone would kill someone who did nothing wrong. I told her I didn't know. Then my conversation turned into one I didn't think I'd ever have to have.

Granted, while having three black sons, I've had some pretty serious conversations on what they'd need to do so they can come back home to me alive, this particular discussion was vastly different. Crying, I held her close and begged her to listen to me. I explained that while most will see her and not question her gender identity, when the time came that she found someone she liked and wanted to be intimate with, reactions could vary.

Ideally, I want to believe that by the time she's an adult and getting into relationships, our world will be in a better place. It will feel and think differently. Society will view her as not simply a trans person, but a beautiful, loving human being. Realistically, this may not be the case and we'll still be as we are now. At least some will be.

I told her to be careful. To feel people out before telling them. To tell them with someone present so she'd have protection just in case they lost their cool. I know she wants surgery down the road and I was so close to pleading with her that once she got it, to never tell anyone she was transgender. I know that's awful and very selfish of me, but my fear and my heart just couldn't handle it. I wouldn't be able to bear if someone took her from me because they didn't know how to be accepting and loving.

I wanted to say to her, just tell them you aren't able to have children. Tell them anything to hide yourself. Just so they won't know and won't hurt you. But I didn't say that. I didn't because I'm proud of who she is and who she's become and look forward to seeing who she'll grow to be. I refuse to let fear dictate my life nor will I allow it to stop hers from thriving.

So this is my message to the cowards who choose to take the life of a trans person, because you are cowards in my eyes...

I'm a mama bear and while I may not always be around to protect my daughter, she's got three pretty tough brothers and a strong father. She's got a village that stands beside her every step of the way. So when you do see her out and about, realize she's not alone. She's never alone. And you will feel that about her. You will not prevail in your hate. I'm watching. We're watching. And we ARE strong.


As is she.










Saturday, May 28, 2016

Humanity is....

As people of this amazing world, we should really take a step back and bask in the wonder of what we've become over time. I believe, however, many of us have forgotten how to do this and that's so very sad.

What is humanity? Where has the concept gone?

To me, humanity is about embracing the beauty of differences in us all. It's those variations that ultimately unite us as fantastic living beings. How does this idea coincide with gender identity? Let me explain.

I have four children. Three of my four children are lighter in complexion than my husband and I. Our third born, Hyperion is our complexion.

When Trinity was born, she was often called "Eskimo white."

Baby Trinity
Toddler Trinity


When Lu was born, he was considered "High yellow white", and when Thane was born, he was simply known as "White baby". Strangers assumed my husband was white and if they saw him, they assumed I slept with a white man.

When Hyperion was born, the comment from some was, "You finally got a black child."

Why am I sharing this? Because we come in all shades. We identify in so many ways. Saying that my children are "white babies" because they are lighter in complexion is wrong. They are beautiful black children. Just like saying my daughter is "a boy who became a girl" is wrong. She IS a girl.

Trin, Lu, and Thane are black. Them being lighter than their parents do not change that.

Hyperion is black. Him being darker than his siblings doesn't make him "more black" or a "real black" child.

Trinity is a girl. Her being assigned male at birth does not change that.

Trans women/girls ARE women/girls.
Trans men/boys ARE men/boys.

We are all wonderful creations. Creations are not made through a simple concept of singularity. Creation is a cornucopia.

Creation is humanity. Humanity is unique.

Humanity is everything. Humanity is beauty.

Humanity is....

#thisiswhathumanitylookslike


Sunday, April 3, 2016

7 Things Not To Say To The Parent Of A Transgender Child...Part 2

Back in June of 2015, I wrote a post titled 7 Things Not To Say To The Parent of a Transgender Child and hit almost 5K views! (find it here)  Well, I'm back at it again with another 7! Enjoy!







7. Wow, your child doesn't even LOOK like a transgender!



Okay, so I'm not sure what this means. I've heard it though and it's often said in the most surprised manner. Like, "Are you as surprised about it as I am, because really, I'm shocked!" Seriously though, people have different appearances. That's just how that works. So, the real issue here is that there is a very strange preconceived idea of what a transgender person will look like. Also "a transgender" is not a term one uses if they have an ounce of intelligence. Even a tiny bit. Like aphid size. Please stop. Please.




6. Your child is too young to make that kind of decision!

Firstly, STFU.

Secondly, children, at very young ages are able to make basic decisions. In fact, when we see them, adults tend to think, "Oh how cute!" and yet, when they are telling you this is WHO they are, then suddenly, they're like John Snow from Game of Thrones. They know nothing.

Let me break it down for you. These children are not "making decisions". This is not a choice or some kind of lifestyle. This is who they are. They know it, deeper than anywhere we can see. And remember, the suicide rate among transgender people is very high. It's not a choice for them. It's life or death. Don't be a dickbag, yo!




5. Oh! So that means (insert misgendering here) is like that Caitlyn Jenner, guy!




4. It's not my place to judge, but this is wrong to do to a kid.

I've seen this one recently. Prefacing any statement that way should be a clue that the next words will probably be judgmental. Hey, I know it's super hard when a parent actually supports their kids in life. Changing hair colors and styles. Choosing their own fashion. Watching more than two hours of television. AHHH BRAIN ANEURYSM!

No parent or caregiver, would force a life of possible bullying, loss of friendships/relationships, and other negative situations on their child. At least not the ones that actually love the child. So they're not doing anything. Well, okay, they're doing something when they stand with their transgender child....

They're loving them unconditionally and listening.





3.  Geez! I don't know how you're handling this. I simply couldn't do it.



....I'm sorry??




2. This must be so hard on the siblings.


Anything can be hard on children. Changes don't always come easy, but I have found that siblings do eventually jump on board if they hadn't from the start. I'm also a strong believer in the idea that a situation only becomes a problem if you (the adult) make it one. We treated our child's transition as nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn't a "big deal" thus, our second born, who was the youngest at the time, didn't see it as one either. The help of a therapist showing us how to turn this new way of life into a celebration of life really helped our son. Now two more kids in and we're still celebrating this journey with her.

Besides, siblings have better things to deal with than having a transgender brother or sister.




 1.  But why? 

Okay, okay. That's a question. But it's an important one that I've heard and I'm sure other parents of trans kids have heard. The "Why" of it all. Why do we fight for them? Why do we allow this to happen? Why? Why? WHY????!!!

There's nothing harder than being a parent. Okay...stale candy maybe, but even then, raising a tiny human being into a big one that you can only hope will be kind and genuine, is well...freakin' hard! And it's something you just never get until you've gone that path. I recall as a kid, thinking my mom was insane and her saying how hard it was made no sense. Then I had kids. Now I know. Sorry, Mom!

But why? Because, they deserve to be loved. They deserve to be safe. Our children, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity DESERVE knowing we as parents, got their back. We may not always agree with what they do, but we still got their backs. Parenting doesn't come with an asterisks. It's not okay until they come out to us, then all bets are off. It's lifelong. It's ever evolving.

My daughter once said, it's okay to evolve and grow. The word "love" is within "evolve" and love has to grow in order for us all to truly understand life. She's right about that. Love, Evolve, Grow, and if nothing else, Live compassionately.






I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of Things not to say to the parent of a transgender child. And please, comment on what you've heard. Share with those who you think will enjoy a bit of humor from a crazy mama of an awesome trans daughter!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I see you. I fight for you. I love you. #TDOV

So, today, March 31 marks the Transgender Day of Visibility. This is big and yes, my post tend to be on the humorous side, but this is BIG. For so many and for so many reasons. Visibility is important. Especially if that visibility means possible hate and ignorance. My daughter is more visible now than she has ever been. I have this blog, but it's not hugely known or even that popular, however, in the last few months, I've felt a bigger need to share it with the world.


So, in the object of being transparent (see what I did there?), I'm writing this letter to her and to others who aren't so visible yet.


Dearest child,

I wake up everyday with the knowledge that I was given an awesome gift. I was given the opportunity to be your mom. Parenting isn't easy. It's a tangled web of crazy with a thread of "what did you just do?" all mixed in. Sometimes I cry, when I'm alone because we had a disagreement and I felt like I could have handled it better. Sometimes I cry, because I just look at you and think, "You chose me!" and I'm so happy.

You are my baby. Born from my body and you have taught me, life isn't always easy. You have shown me what strength looks like and that often times, it comes in those smallest packaging. But my sweet, wonderful child, I'm scared. And I need you to know if you're scared, that's okay. We can be scared together and we'll stand tall in our fear together too.

I will make mistakes along the way. I will fall a lot. However, in every mistake will be me correcting it twice as hard and for ever fall, I'll hold you on my shoulders so you can still reach the stars. That's all I can do as I'm sadly just a human.

My beautiful child, you are transgender and you are more powerful than you'll ever realize. Even if you think you've done little, just showing yourself and being visible, pushes courage into someone else. If you feel that's not enough, because you can't see it...know that with your visibility, your strength....

You've touched me and made me a better person. A greater person. So thank you. Thank you, my dearest, beautiful, wonderful child.


Love eternally,

Mom







Saturday, February 6, 2016

Would you go to the bathroom with me? #illgowithyou #everybodypoops #seriouslyeverybodypoops

You may or may not have heard about the bills trying to pass stating that transgender persons would have to use the bathroom of their assigned gender. The fact that who and how someone uses a bathroom is being debated seems...odd to me. I mean think about it? The excuse being used is that men are going to be putting on dresses and using bathrooms with girls so they can molest them.

I have it in good faith to know, usually if a person wants to sexually assault another person, they don't take the time to get dressed up to do so. They just do it. I also have seen it to be proven that 100% of household bathrooms are used by multiple members and most commonly multiple genders. Not sure what the statistics of groping are in those cases. I'm sure there are some, but for the most part, there's probably only urination and pooping happening.

Of course, I'm not a scientist or research tech so I may be wrong. Anywho....

I decided to think about who I'd go to the bathroom with and maybe, some of you may agree. Some might not but you know...that's okay too. I just want you to take the time to check this out and make some serious choices about who you'd go to the bathroom with.



Would you go to the bathroom with me? 
Note* this is in concern of making bathrooms for all


Humans?


Photo courtesy of stockimages @FreeDigitalPhotos.net
So okay, some humans use a urinal when they need to go to the bathroom so some might not want to walk into that. I get it. Weenies right? But in the case of those who don't and prefer using a stall, then okay. Going to the bathroom shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Plus, look at that human. This person's got on a hard hat. This person possibly cares about safety. Or at least, this human just wants to take a bathroom break like everybody else. 



Viruses and other Microorganisms? 

Photo courtesy of dream designs @freedigitalphotos.net

I'm saying NOPE! I'm sure others will agree. We'd rather not go to the bathroom with these things. They are horrible in that they cause sniffles, flu, GI infections, maybe even STD transmission? *Shudders* Where's the bleach?! The FIRE?!

Tragically, these little bastards find their ways into our private pee pee places like they own it. Never thinking once about our hopes and dreams for a germ free future. I'll say it now: NO TO VIRUSES. 

Where's that bill? Get on the ball Congress! 


Rhinos?

Photo courtesy of criminalatt @ freedigitalphotos.net

No.


Children?

Photo courtesy of Chaiwat @freedigitalphotos.net

Now you're probably thinking, "De? Shouldn't children be part of humans?"
LOL yes???

I'm a mom of 4 and there are just some days, I'm certain, they are uniquely their own creations. That said, anyone who knows how children work, also know when they gotta go, they gotta go. So yeah, just let them go. Don't bother me none.




Slender Man?

Photo courtesy of Google Images

STFU.



Trump?



Changed my mind. I'd rather Slender Man. 


Tom Hiddleston?



YEEESSSSSS!!!!



So those are the ones I would and would not go to the bathroom with. Yours may be different than mine. And for those asking, "De? This legislation is about transgender people and the bathroom. You didn't mention them."

I say: I did mention them. They're part of the HUMANS section because they are people. They are human beings. Living, breathing creations set on this planet like you and I. And like you and I, and most of the things on this list, they need to go to the bathroom in peace. Safely. Because, in the end, it's not a right or a privilege to need to release the waste our bodies create. It's just a thing we HAVE to do. Everybody poops....


Except for possibly Trump. That guy just seems really full of crap all the time. 


Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read my post. And I ask? Would you go to the bathroom with me?

photo courtesy of Emma Medina-Castrejon
















Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The great debate...No, not the Presidential kind

I often come to a place where I feel this blog won't benefit anyone. I don't talk much about my little family, well not until recently. Now I realize a lot of what is happening in our journey DOES need to be discussed. Perhaps, I can give a little more info to a parent who is just beginning this path with their child. I don't know. So I've debated. And debated.

And debated until I wanted to scream.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici @freedigitalphotos.net

Okay, we know that's not me but I did debate pretty hard with myself. Would keeping this work up prove to be fruitful? Would I have time to write really inspirational posts that made one ponder their existence in this crazy life? I still don't have the answers to these just as much as I haven't come to an actual conclusion as to what I want to do.

But this isn't about me. I mean, yes, this blog is the personal accounts of a mother with a transgender child, but this isn't about ME. This is about happiness and unconditional love. It's about supporting a daughter who shows me every. single. moment that bravery comes in many forms. Some being a young as a child. It's about the adults who are still trying to find acceptance within their own families and within their own relationships because for some reason, our society can't see past genitals to get that gender identity and fluidity is a very real thing. 

I fight for my child and I've been asked "How can you love your child being this way?" I'm not the only one who gets asked this and that again is why this needs to continue. 

If there are still people who can't understand that there should never be stipulations on the love you have for your child, my work isn't done. You were blessed with your child. The moment you forget that because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is the moment you should re-evaluate the definition of parent. 

So, while I haven't made a final choice on if this will an ongoing blog for the years to come, for now, I'll keep on writing. Maybe, just maybe, I'll reach someone. 


By the way, 

Parent: (noun, par-ent)

1. One that begets or brings forth offspring
2. A person who brings up and cares for another


This is how I parent. With strength, respect, and most of all, unconditional love.