I promised I would do whatever I could to help him.
A mother focuses on supporting her son while trying to process the changes they all face.
Briefly describe how your child first came out to you and your initial reactions.
We were waiting in a parking lot for my older daughter to get out of a rock concert. We drove to the corner store to use the bathroom. When he returned he said that he used the men’s bathroom because the clerk thought he was male. I was upset that he did this mainly because the men’s bathroom is always dirtier than the woman’s. I asked him why he didn’t correct the clerk and that is when he said he wanted to tell me something. The look on his face scared me and I reassured him that there was nothing he could ever say to me that would make me stop loving him. He finally said that he had never truly felt like a girl. He was transgender and he was relieved that he finally knew what he was. He asked if I was upset and I told him that I was nowhere close to that. I promised him that I would do whatever I could to help him and that I would always love him. Inside I was terrified, confused, afraid but I did not want him to see that. But in a strange way I was relieved because maybe now he would come out of his room and be a part of the family.
What concerns did you experience over the first weeks or months? How did you deal with them?
I was worried that he wanted everything to happen immediately. I was still trying to process what it meant and how his life would change. My main worry was his mental health. He had been depressed and isolated for way too long and I did not want that to happen again. I wanted him to be mentally well and prepared for what it meant to be trans. At the same time I was trying to figure out a way to tell his father as I knew he would never accept him which meant that I would not accept my husband. It meant preparing myself to ask my husband to leave if would not be supportive which meant having to be strong for my children. Mentally it was the most terrifying moment of my life.
Has your child come out to other family members over time?
Yes. He came out to my side of the family which was extremely supportive and accepting. They called him by his new name and never treated him any differently. His father’s side was the same. They were all accepting and reassured him that they loved him no matter what.
What is the hardest thing about knowing their LGBTQ identity?
Its the uncertainty of his future. Will he find love? Will he find someone who will accept him and let him be himself? Will he be accepted and be able to live life as who he chooses? Will he be safe when I am not there to protect him?
What are some challenges have you faced concerning your LGBTQ child? How did you deal with these?
There are so many but the main challenge is the process of change. He wants everything right now to happen: name change, gender marker change, top surgery. Some were easy to meet while others are taking time and his patience is wearing thin. Financially it is not possible but emotionally I still struggle with some of the changes he wants.
What is the best thing about knowing your child's LGBTQ identity?
He is happy. He knows who he is and he is not afraid.
Knowing what you know today, would you want your child to “stay in the closet”? Why?
NO WAY! I would not ever change anything about my son. My only regret is not knowing this sooner. He was so unhappy for too long and I see him now and I thank God that he knows who he is and we continue to work towards a future.
What would you say to other parents learning the LGBTQ identity of their child?
Be patient. Grieve. It is ok to think thoughts like “I wish you were not trans/gay/lesbian” because these are all normal thoughts and they in no way make you a bad parent. Saying things like “I love you no matter what” and “I am here for you” really are very powerful.
What would you say to youth coming out to their families?
Be patient with people. We make mistakes and we often react emotionally. But mainly what I tell my son is please, please, please be patient.
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