What is it like to parent a transgender teen? Well, I can’t really answer that question. I can tell you, however, what it is like to parent my transgender teen. It is an emotional roller coaster. For real.
By now, if you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I love my son unconditionally. I am his advocate. I am his biggest cheerleader. I am a walking billboard for acceptance. That said, this is no piece of cake.
Transgender individuals come with a built-in set of insecurities. They feel different and wrongly put together. They walk around believing that the outside world can see the anxieties and mismatched parts that make-up this living, breathing human.
For every “win” we experience numerous hurdles. For every successful step forward, there are many steps backward. For every joyful milestone, there are tears of frustration and sadness.
Most of us wondered, as we were growing up, if we would find that special someone. The teen years were fraught with bad dates, rejection, wistful longings, that first kiss, a homecoming corsage and so much more. There’s a “lid for every pot,” my grandma would say. Try convincing a trans teen of that concept — a trans teen who feels that no one would want to date “someone like me.” This is sobering.
When Hunter first “came out” to me, one of my immediate concerns was, “how hard would it be for a transgender adult to find love.” Ironic, for sure. Now, we are collecting friends who just happen to be transgender and have managed to successfully find love and create a family. These are the role models our son needs to see. There is someone for everyone.
Being the parent of a trans teen boy is exhausting. It is like regular parenting on steroids. I always joke that Hunter was never an easy child…he was a fussy baby requiring special formula, then came night terrors (if you’ve ever experienced someone going through that you know how frightening and exhausting that is), climbing out of the crib too early, eating anything and everything including rocks, dirt, cigarette butts, chalk, markers and crayons, refusal to take a real nap, disorganized chaos at school where each day meant searching for another lost piece of paper, lunchbox or article of clothing, difficulty learning to read, never learning to write in cursive, printing that’s near impossible to read, an ADHD diagnosis, social anxiety up the wazoo — well, you get the picture.
Being Hunter’s mom has never been easy…but parenting is one tough job. Hunter is bright, kind, artistic, quick-witted and musical. He is loving, caring and an amazing friend. Hunter’s philosophy is don’t be a hater. He embraces diversity and is an outspoken ambassador for the transgender youth community. Hunter is compassionate and vulnerable. He fills my heart in a way that no other human being can. He is different and difficult and moody and complicated.
He is my son and I am today’s parent.