To transition or not? This was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. This decision, no matter the answer, was going to not only affect me, but my entire family and everyone in my life.
One of the many things I never really sat down and put much thought into was how this decision would affect my parents. I always feared how they would react, but how this would affect them, never crossed my mind. My parents have been the most loving and supportive people I know even through this time of adjustment in their lives. In all reality, my mom and dad lost one of their sons. The baby boy they raised and saw grow up for 40 years was gone. They now had to learn how to relate to their new daughter. And to be painfully honest, I really didn’t give them much time to get use to the idea of having a daughter instead of the son they knew. Ironically, from the time I told them to the time I legally changed my name was only 9 months.
This transition for them is still evolving as they continue to replace the he, him and his with she and her. But something I will always love about them is they have never stopped trying.
It hasn’t been easy for me either in this relationship. I cringe every time there’s a slip of the tongue. But I have learned that those moments are becoming few and far between. I have learned that I have had nearly 35 years to prepare for this time in my life, they have only had a few up to this point.
Will they ever forget the boy they once knew? Simply . . . no. It is my job to learn that regardless of how I feel when I see pictures of my old self still hanging on their wall, those are their memories as well. They have every right to hang on to those memories and treasure them.
If you have read even one of my other blogs, you will know that I am brutally honest about myself. And again I will be honest with you. I have made mistakes when it came to what to expect from those around me. I ticked off more than one of my friends when I would get upset or even mad when they would slip up and use the wrong pronouns. I neglected to understand that not everyone is able to just switch his or her thinking.
My decision to transition was, with out a doubt, the most difficult on my ex and my two kids. Carrie Goldman Segall, the highly respect author of Bullied and a fellow blogger, asked me how and when I told my kids about my transition. Forgive me if I seem to have chosen my words very carefully, but no matter what has happened between their mother and myself, I have to respect that relationship. Without out going into much detail out of respect to their mother and conversations the two of us had, I will say that this was a difficult road to navigate.
Not that I’m bragging, but my kids are pretty smart. They did have some idea of what I was going through emotionally prior to the separation. They saw things and knew things but it was only after I was homeless and out on my own that I made the ultimate and final decision to live full time as a woman and to go through with the transition.
To this day my kids still call me ‘dad’. This is something I have to deal with emotionally and slowly we have worked on when and where calling me this is appropriate. As much as I feel more of a mom than I ever did as a dad, I have told them that in no way am I trying to replace their mother, but they have learned that when we are out in public, people will see me in the roll as their mom.
Here’s the biggest thing that we have learned and I think it goes for any difficult time in any relationship – communication. Prior to and since the official, legal transition, I have had several talks through out the last three years with both kids, separately and the three of us together.
Everyday I get to spend time with my kids, I continue to convey how much I love them. I make sure that I respect them and who they are and their needs. That’s the job of any parent. For us, in this unique situation, I have made sure that when we are around their friends, I follow their lead. I have never wanted them to feel uncomfortable with me. When my daughter was 15, I asked her if she would be ok with me coming back to their church so I could pick the two of them up from there after the service so I could spend more time with them. She had to think for a bit, but I could tell the idea bothered her. She finally replied that she wasn’t ready for that yet. I was so glad to hear this. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to their church, it was that my daughter was finally able to verbalize her proverbial line in the sand. This was huge for her and our relationship. She told me what there was in the relationship she wasn’t ready for and I have no problem with it and respect my daughter even more. For me, that was a proud parent moment. I saw my daughter mature in that very instant.
As time goes on, I have seen my kids grow and adapt to all the changes they are faced with. People have called me brave and strong and courageous for taking the steps to change my life. I say my kids are the strong ones. My transition, or I should say OUR transition, has not been easy on them, but with love and respect and a commitment to keep our relationship healthy, I know, with out a doubt, that my kids will survive and become even stronger adults than I can ever imagine.
This transition is not one I bear alone. My friends and family have had to transition their lives along with mine. This goes for any one in the LGBT community when they break the news to their family. It takes time to adapt to the new information and new way of life. I urge anyone that is contemplating “coming out” to remember those who love you. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Your family and friends will need time to process, educate themselves and to get use to the new world they too are now living in.