October is LGBT History Month. To honor transgender people and their unique histories, I will be featuring transgender people and parents of transgender children all month long. Through sharing their stories, I hope to raise awareness of this amazing population of people who still struggle for basic human rights.
By Renee Bonnell Yawn, supportive mom and LTYM alum
“Once upon a time there lived a perfect family; there was a daddy, a mommy, and two fair haired sisters. The End.”
We all know that fairy tales aren’t real, but I felt that my life was as close to the fairy tale that I had longed for when I was growing up. I met a man who loved me and wanted a family with me. We married and had not just one, but two beautiful healthy baby girls. At least that’s what we thought.
When our youngest girl turned three years old, she suddenly insisted we start calling her “Jackson”. “I’m a little boy” she would say, despite us pointing out to her that she was a little girl. The phase passed, or so it seemed, as she grew older.
She was a very unhappy child. She would be awake most nights until the wee hours, when she would finally fall asleep just before it was time to get up. She was difficult to wake up for school, and once there was always trying to come back home. When she got home, she would be sullen and alone in her room. She didn’t keep friends for very long, and interests would go from obsession to disinterest quickly.
When my youngest child turned fourteen, the school counselor suggested we look for a therapist. It wasn’t long after therapy began that my daughter told me she was gay. We understood that she was young, and that she may change her mind. In fact, she dated both boys and girls during her high school years.
Shortly after she turned eighteen, I got a facebook message from my child telling me that gay didn’t quite describe her anymore…that she was transgender. She started dressing exclusively as male, and began seeking medical transition, which we didn’t discover until later. Almost a month passed when I confronted my child. An attitude of defiance had become overwhelming to the entire family, who was less than supportive of the transition, and we couldn’t continue to live in that atmosphere any longer. We had a big blow-up, and my child left to live with people I had never met, but were supportive of him being transgender.
I was bereft. I had never spent more than a week away from my child before this occurred. I felt like he was doing this to punish me. It took me a while to understand that it really had nothing to do with me at all. When I looked past my pain, I saw a very brave young man and I told him so. That was when we began to rebuild our relationship.
With his encouragement, I met others who had a transgender family member, and I felt a kinship and a sense of belonging. It wasn’t long before I felt a need to help families through their transitions too. Soon, my very own support group will begin meeting, and I can’t wait to encourage families as they navigate these roads.
My son is transgender, but it doesn’t stop there. His being transgender has allowed our family to find LGBT advocacy within ourselves, and has opened us up to loving people we now call family. Every family goes through transition of some sort; ours continues to be an evolving tale of love.
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Special thanks to Mary Tyler Mom who inspired this unique and beautiful way of honoring LGBT History Month.
Tags: children, coming out, family, gender, glbt, lgbt, LGBT History Month, Listen to Your Mother, LYTM, motherhood, October, parenthood, Parenting, storytelling, trans, transgender, transgender issues, transition