Transgender son brings shifts in the thinking of the entire family
A Transgender child can cause other family members to reconsider their beliefs, attitudes and assumptions.
Briefly describe how your child first came out to you and your initial reactions.
My child (born female) was a gifted soprano opera singer, a successful bio-researcher with her doctorate degree, and had married into a good family. Four years after she settled down, she left the marriage, stopped singing, changed her religion, changed her career and began slowly to introduce the idea to me that she had never been an authentic woman. She believed the only way she could truly be herself was to transition.
It has been several years now. He has had top surgery, has changed his driver’s license, passport, is in a new relationship in a different country and is taking testosterone. I pray he will be able to successfully transition without any medical problems, as he has a serious lactose intolerance that has put him in the hospital twice and necessitates always carrying an EpiPen.
I pray a lot for him every day. I want him to be all he is capable of being, and he is successful in his new career and has found a community of friends. All of this is great. I love my child so much, and it leaves me feeling like I have failed as a mother.
What concerns did you experience over the first weeks or months? How did you deal with them?
Before my child came out to me, I was not supportive of gay rights or transgender people. I always prided myself on being a good, devoted, hardworking single mom (widow), who did everything I could for my kids in every way. I was a woman who struggled to fulfill the role of a man as breadwinner, with all the complications and difficulties that has entailed. It is something I was proud of. I was looking forward to a future of having two daughters married with children living close by, having an extended family. My child’s transition has caused me to question everything I have ever believed about man/woman relationships.
My other daughter and I share quality time on video calls with my son every week to give support and encouragement. I am a big fan of his new career. But I am left feeling “less than” myself as I am left to struggle with my church, which is going through a transition of whether or not to support gay marriage (my son’s partner is a man) that is going to break the church apart within the next year or two. I am very active in my church and have begun advocating for our being a “rainbow” church. I have found several other mothers in the congregation who are also going through this.
Has your child come out to other family members over time?
If yes, who, when, and what was their reaction?
They appeared to be supportive, but have basically cut us off.
What is the hardest thing about knowing their LGBTQ identity?
The hardest thing for me is that they are grown now and beyond my protection. I do not know if they will be able to safely “pass” as a man and worry that they could be bullied or killed, especially when they are living abroad, but also even on the streets of New York.
What are some challenges have you faced concerning your LGBTQ child? How did you deal with these?
As mentioned above, having a trans child has made me question my identity (as a mother and role model) and everything I have ever believed about being human. I have come to realize that we need to be more like other cultures – ie. Native American – who do not limit people and their value and their roles by sexual identity. It is a terribly limiting and harmful thing for us to do. As a professional woman, I suffered alot while trying to fulfill a man’s role. No one made it easy for me. It is not fair that women are not treated equally or given the same opportunities – or salary – as men. I personally believe that if we stopped putting so many gender-based restraints on people, it would be so much easier for LGBTQ people!
Knowing what you know today, would you want your child to “stay in the closet”? Why?
No. As a woman, my child was astonishingly successful, yet she was not happy. For the first time in their life, they are happy with their body, and the way they present themselves. This is truly a wonderful thing.
What would you say to other parents learning the LGBTQ identity of their child?
I pray that they will let their love for their child always prevail, no matter how difficult it seems.
What would you say to youth coming out to their families?
Please be honest. Go slow, try to understand how your words will make your parents feel. They may feel as I have that they are a total failure as parents. Please remember that it is their problem, not yours, and that they will come around when you transition. And remember that God always loves you just the way you are, and He wants you to be the best you are capable of being.
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