I meet you all the time. You’re a little awkward, a little unsure, but you approach me anyway. Sometimes you’re the mom clutching the hands of children, less often the dad. Maybe you’re a teacher or a nurse or a grandmother. Maybe you know a child at your kids’ school, maybe he was in the same classroom for a year. Maybe you have a distant trans relative or your sister’s kid, you’re positive, will turn out to be transgender one day.
Or maybe I’m the first person you’ve met with a trans child. Maybe you never thought about it before and my situation forced you to. Maybe even changed your mind.
I appreciate that you’re making a connection and that you’re taking the time to reach out to let me know. You want to show me support, show me that we’re all in this together. Because we are. And I think I can speak on behalf of most, if not all parents of trans kids when I say, I feel so incredibly alone and isolated almost all of the time and I am grateful for people like you.
But then you say, “I simply can’t imagine what it’s like.”
And I think you’re wrong.
I think you can.
I think you can imagine what it’s like to love your children unconditionally. I’m not a unique mother for doing that. I’m not an exceptional mother or a better mother because my child is trans. Has your child ever told you he hates you? Thrown the biggest tantrum in the worst place ever? Wrecked your house? Ruined your plans? Done any number of countless inconsiderate and love-testing things that children do on a daily basis?
Do you still love him?
I think you can imagine that better than you know.
I think you can imagine fearing for your child’s well-being. Has your heart ever leapt into your throat when he climbed to the top of the slide or jumped off the swing at the wrong time? Have you ever panicked when you didn’t see him in a crowd or lost sight of him at the park or in the grocery store?
Maybe he was sick once, or more than once. Did you worry? Did you sit by his side and stroke his forehead and take his temperature a thousand times and check his breathing every hour?
I know you can imagine that.
I think you can imagine worrying about your child’s future. I know I am not alone in this. Do you ever study your child’s face for signs of the person he’ll grow up to be? Do you wonder if he’ll make good friends, find a good partner to share his life with, finish school and find a job and be satisfied in his life?
Do you ever lay awake worrying about it? Do you lose sleep fearing that terrible things might happen to your child? Do you read articles about school shootings or child abductions or sexual assaults and know the worst kind of terror imaginable? Do you wish that you could shut the world out and keep your child in a safe and loving little bubble for the rest of his life and yours?
I think you do.
I do too.
You can imagine having a trans child. You can imagine loving a trans child. You can imagine fearing for the future and well-being of a trans child.
I assure you, raising a trans child is not unimaginable.
I choose to love my child, to respect him as an individual. I choose to embrace his truth, his authentic self. I choose to support him and fight for his rights and help him change the world in ways I never knew were possible. I choose to risk everything to make sure my child knows, without question, I am on his side.
And you know what? I imagine you would too.
I imagine you already do.
All my love and gratitude,
Affirmed mom of a trans kid
Don't miss my video from Listen to Your Mother Chicago 2015 where I share my story of Jake's transition.
Or come see me in St. Louis on May 7th.
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photo credit: There is an interconnectedness among members that bonds the family, much like mountain climbers who rope themselves together when climbing a mountain, so that if someone should slip or need support, he's held up by the others until he regains his footing. via photopin (license)