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 These “experts” quoted studies that were either extremely outdated or bogus research conducted by anti-transgender organizations.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