Familiar yet Foreign

You know that feeling when you see someone and just can’t quite place who they are or where you know them from? Aside from the fact that I am convinced my memory is completely shot, I’ve been having this feeling a lot lately.

Hunter not OliviaEvery so often I come across a photo of Olivia. Flat-ironed, much anticipated, long hair, smiling face…I am stopped in my tracks. I know this child. I’ve held her, soothed her, fed her, played with her, cheered her on, taught her to ride a bike, scolded her, disciplined her, and loved her. It’s been awhile since we’ve spent time together. So familiar, yet so foreign.

When I look at Hunter, I see my kid. I see a young teen boy who is quick-witted, full of personality and sarcasm and on the journey of a lifetime. What I don’t see is a boy who used to be a girl; a son formerly known as a daughter. It’s funny, really. Hunter would probably disagree but it’s almost as if they are two different people. We parented Olivia for a time being and now we get to continue on the parenthood path with Hunter. It’s sort of like being on a roller coaster that suddenly changes tracks. For a split second you aren’t sure you’re going to make it; then, the car “rights” itself and you breathe a sign of relief.

I am so saddened by the recent tragedy in New Jersey where a young trans man took his life by jumping in front of a train moving at a speed of 120 miles per hour. His parents who must be in unimaginable pain are quoted as saying, “She was such a good girl.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Do they not understand that referring to their transgender, FTM child with female pronouns was not the way to show support? I am not blaming the Moscatel’s for Riley’s death but they did not do what they needed to do.

It took me a long time to feel comfortable using male pronouns with Hunter; initially, I just avoided using them altogether. The familiar was much safer than the unknown. But, I pushed past any issues and discomfort I may have had so I could give my son what he needed. I reminded him that I had a daughter for 14 years; changing vocabulary overnight would be difficult.

My family is my priority. Having a healthy, happy family unit is, above all else, what I want out of life. So, does my heart ache once in awhile for Olivia? Do I get pangs of longing for a child that I’m missing? YES and YES. It’s hard to put into words what I feel on a daily basis. I do look at the pictures from time to time and recall what was once so familiar. Mostly, though, I look at Hunter and see a teenager who is paving the way for others. I see my child, so courageous of late, sometimes I feel as if I hardly know him. We are getting better acquainted with each passing day and navigating a complicated journey together.


9 thoughts on “Familiar yet Foreign

  1. If we let people who they are, rather than force them into something simply based on piece of of paper, we would be a happier, healthier society, which would lead to a better economy, increased productivity, and more wealth for everyone. (Using “fiscally conservative” economics to defend GLBT rights 😉 )


  2. Yeah, I so know that feeling. Kris and I have talked about “Kerri” as if she is a compete separate person we both knew and just isn’t around much anymore. I honestly cannot imagine Kris as a girl. I don’t see my daughter when I look at him. He’s my son. and like you with Hunter, I’m still getting to know him. 🙂


  3. Some of us see our life pre-and post-transition as one big story; others will only focus on certain parts and try to bury the past before transition. I see my name change as the best illustration: I was and am the same person. You just are finally getting to the person I’ve always seen myself to be. Who knows, maybe my sense of self is as fluid as my sexuality. I won’t hide or bury my past, but I will present it if need be in a modified way so I don’t out myself needlessly. Instead if life as tomboy, I was a “boi” or ” ‘boy ” (used as an abbreviation).


  4. Got cut off. What I wanted to say is that you are doing it right. He is a great kid and you will now have the rest of his life to enjoy him in his true self. I understand completely how you feel though. I have a very close friend who is trans and I really mourn the loss of him as a woman as well since I loved him as a woman as well. It is true that it is as if there are two different people.


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