Hi Constance…I found a cool article about yet another parent who has the vision, courage and love to raise her transgender daughter with love, acceptance, and support.
She made a statement in her article, and it so resonated with me, because I remember that fateful late March afternoon just last year (!!!)…after extensive reading about transgender people and lives…I was so lonely, and so separated from everyone and everything. Surrounded by people who loved me, but not me me…just who I posed as for their security and happiness, and yet I felt totally alone.
I was worthless. I had no meaning. They had actively and intentionally sought me, found me and time and again healed and sustained me…and I still just wanted to disappear.
And on that day, rain drizzling coldly outside, heaters ticking and popping, I read of the loneliness and alienation of my trans sisters and brothers…and I was soo struck by how their stories jibed with mine, how people whom I had never met wrote as if they were inside my head! My compassion welled up, and I wept for them, because I truly knew what they were suffering…and then the stories of the people who decided to transition instead of kill themselves, and such a longing consumed me…a longing to feel something normal, a longing to be “right”, a longing to know I belonged to someplace…
…belonged to myself…
and then I heard Mama say to me in my heart, that if I was totally honest with myself, I would see that I too was transgender, just like the ones I was reading of.
And that is where the statement that Julie Ross makes came out of my mouth…”No Lord…that happens to other people, but not me. I mean, I have always thought I was a girl trapped in this male body with no way out, but that doesn’t make me transgender! lol!
But She persisted, and besides…I knew, right then that she was right. All that had to be dealt with was the constructs of immorality and perversion that had been formed in my mind and heart due to the childhood experiences I went through.
All of that is going to be avoided for Julie’s lovely daughter! She will still have trials, and heartache like every human in this shattered world…but she will never feel the emptiness, the horror of nothingness where there ought to be life.
May Mama shine on each of our hearts with Her convicting love that upholds us, sustains us, and washes us everyday…and may we find the courage to go out of our way to ease the journey of someone else today.
Much love and rejoicing, Charissa
Raising a Transgender Child: A Star is Born
Eight months ago, my 9-year-old son tearfully shared with me that “his whole life, he had wanted to be a girl”. Pressed by the therapist (who, thank G-d, was in the room with us) to clarify whether he wants to be a girl or is a girl, George immediately replied that he is a girl. And so began a crazy-ass adventure that I never, in a million years, expected to find my child or, frankly, myself, on.
To be clear, my husband Rich and I always knew that George (who is now Jessie) was different from not only our older son, but from other kids — male and female alike. With sparkling eyes and a wildly observant and funny personality, he was known by everyone everywhere we went. Never one to shy away from a conversation or situation (particularly if it involved dolls, dresses, wigs or mermaid tails), he captured the attention of anyone he came into contact with. When behaviors that concerned us in preschool and kindergarten — including, but by no means limited to his self portraits (a frequent drawing assignment) consistently depicting a girl in a dress with long, flowing hair — continued with even greater vigor in first, second and third grades. We concluded that he was probably going to grow up to be gay, yet didn’t quite buy it ourselves. He was a boy who greatly appreciated a beautiful girl and what she was wearing. He never met a doll, wig, dress or mermaid tail that he didn’t feel a total compulsion to own — no matter how strongly he had to fight for it. And despite the fact that he was not even slightly effeminate, there were several occasions that he harassed and harangued me for hours on end requesting everything from hair extensions to wigs to dolls. It never added up. And then he asked for (and by “asked for” I mean “demanded”) a pierced ear.
Our initial reaction to the earring request was that “little boys don’t wear earrings”, but he was having none of it. As he obsessively pursued this request, it became increasingly clear that it was not a desire, but a need. Since growing out his traditional little boy haircut was going to take some serious time (we had agreed to allow him to grow his hair — anything to stop hearing about hair extensions or wigs), a single pierced ear seemed an easy enough allowance in hopes of placating him. Of significant note was, just prior (and I mean as the alcohol was being rubbed across his lobe) to the piercing, he implored the piercer to be sure to do it in the ear that doesn’t mean “gay”… clearly he was building up the courage to tell us something, we just didn’t know it yet.
It was not long after the newly-pierced ear that our confusion was put to rest and we were told of George’s truth. It took me about a minute and a half to absorb what he was saying and to give myself a virtual whack upside the head. It all started to make sense now, except for the part when I told myself that this happens to other families — not mine. Wrong.
We continued along with our “if-it-was-ever-normal-it-isn’t-now” lives for a few weeks, noticing a huge change in our child’s mood and temperament. Clearly, an enormous weight had been lifted. And then there came what we refer to as “the article”. It was a Sunday in December, which also happened to be George’s tenth birthday. On the front page of The Boston Globe there was an article about identical twin boys, one of whom had identified as transgender and was now living fully as a girl. I, not surprisingly, was raptly reading the story when George came up behind me, noticed the photo and asked who they were. Upon telling him he responded, with his mouth agape, “You mean I’m not the only one?” It was at that moment that Jessie was born, moved in and has since made herself comfortable in my house.
The following day, I dropped George off at school and told him to be cool; we would come up with a plan. He was cool. Until 11 a.m. (not bad considering the school day starts at 8 a.m.), when he simply could not keep the truth to himself and, without fanfare or drama, told one of his teachers about his “secret”. The cat, ladies and gentlemen, was out of the bag. The next day, as it happened, was pajama day and, after a hasty, late night trip to Target, I successfully outfitted my “son” in head-to-toe pink, purple and green polka dotted pajamas in which he ran (not walked) into school with zero hesitation and without so much as a glance over his shoulder for support. Jessie had been waiting her whole life for this day. I almost wonder if that was why she felt the need to share when she did… just to ensure the perfect little girl pajama ensemble for what will likely (hopefully) be her last school sanctioned pajama day ever.
Since those first crazy days, we have had her second ear pierced and have had countless meetings, discussions, questions, plans and concerns hurled in our direction. At times we have laid low: mostly at the beginning, when we were nearly immobilized by the mere thought of what it meant to have a transgender child. Other times we have been “out there”: when, for example, we announced on Facebook (with her encouragement) “George becoming Jessie”, complete with a photo of her in her inaugural dress. This was a means of survival for us and done mainly so that we weren’t forced to explain the situation to everyone, everywhere, every time we left the house. But no matter how people learned of Jessie having identified as transgender, the response has been consistent: total acceptance with a healthy and appropriate dose of trepidation — both for us and, frankly, themselves.
Our family has been lucky. We know that we are just getting started, but are grateful that Jessie’s social transition, thus far, has been as seamless as we ever could have hoped for. She has that sparkle in her eye and a new confidence which is the envy of many an adult. We take each day as it comes and have as little an idea as to where this will land as we did eight months ago… but at least now her self-portraits make more sense.
PS: At this point, it is noteworthy to tell you that it felt strange to refer to my child as George or to call her a “he”. “New normal” surprises me every day…