Many of you know that I would go to the ends of the earth for my kids. If you’ve been following Call Him Hunter, you also know that my youngest is transgender. What you don’t know is that Hunter is not my first son.
Twenty-three years ago (and a few months), in April of 1994, I gave birth to my first child. The birth was unexpected. I was only 29 weeks along and had only been to one childbirth class. It took a long time to get pregnant and we felt it was nothing short of a miracle when I finally conceived. So, when I woke up in the middle of the night cramping and bleeding, I knew something was very wrong.
We raced to the hospital in the dark of night, me shivering, my husband speeding on the empty road. Of course, we had called the doctor, who called the hospital. They were waiting for us.
For some reason, it took several hours to determine what was happening to me. When my doctor arrived, he grabbed one end of the bed and said, “we’re having a baby.” To say I was frightened would be an understatement. This baby was not ready for life outside the womb. And we were not ready for a baby – yet.
Our preemie weighed in at 1 lb, 8 oz – not much bigger than a loaf of bread. He was on life support and it would be days before I could hold him. This was the beginning of our journey; the beginning of learning what it meant to fight for my child. I didn’t know how fierce I could be or how much strength I had. The next seven months tested me more than anything before. Perhaps some other time I will share the details. The heart wrenching story of fighting to bring my son home; the battle to believe he would be ok; the anger and questioning – “why me.”
For now, what I will tell you is that my beautiful, most wanted, endlessly loved, first son, was a fighter. His little body with underdeveloped lungs and the less than perfect technology were not a match for what he needed to sustain life.
Twenty-three years ago today, we said good-bye to our first born, our first son, our baby boy. Twenty-three years ago I didn’t know if I would ever have another child, let alone the opportunity to parent a son.
For me, now, there is some interesting irony that our youngest, assigned female at birth (AFAB), would come out as a transgender male…that I would once again, be a parent to a son. I know there are many out there who mourn the loss of the child whom you knew pre-transition. I never felt that way. I didn’t or couldn’t equate my son’s transition from female to male (FtM) as the loss of a child. I knew that loss; nothing compares.
When I first heard the words, “I’d rather have a live son than a dead daughter,” I grabbed onto them and held them close. I knew the statistics were grim. Many trans youth were attempting suicide. If I had anything to do with it, my child would be supported, accepted and loved; I was going to do my part to ensure his safety and place in the world.
To all those parents who are experiencing a sense of loss once your child comes out, I hope you can find it in your heart to pass through those emotions swiftly and with minimal pain. Embrace this amazing human being you are raising. They are brave and unique and have much to offer the world.
I would love to hear from those of you who successfully moved past the sadness as your child has transitioned. What can you offer to others?
For some resources on regarding having a transgender child, visit standwithtrans.org.
My child came out as FTM slowly, over a period of 3-6 months. First it was a request for a binder, (which I denied because I thought it was a weight, puberty, body shame issue that I wasn’t going to encourage) then a girlfriend and identifying as lesbian, and wanting boy style clothes. This was middle school. Perhaps he read our cues and reactions, I don’t even remember a “coming out trans” conversation. We had casual conversation about what I would’ve named him if born male, and the names he liked.
By the time my son asked us to use male pronouns and a new name, his friends’ parents were mostly already doing so!
We are fortunate that we have lived in the same home our kids’ entire lives, and many friends have been here since kindergarten, or close to it.
When I started to reach out to people to explain, or address head-on his changes, these are the words I used over and o er again. “ My youngest child has changed their name to ——— and uses male pronouns now. We have learned that He’s transgender. ———hasn’t changed really, his likes and dislikes, strengths and weakness, talents and character are exactly as theyve always been.”
To my face, or on the phone with other parents, teachers, MD offices, I have never had someone be taken aback.
One religious family’s mother said that she loved my child for years and that isn’t something that changes. She said “our home is always a safe place for ———.” I still almost tear up thinking of hat call.
My next door neighbor, who has grown children, was spot on. She quickly asked “so what school is he going to next year?” Without missing a beat.
Another great response to my sharing with our circle of friends and acquaintances was this “is it okay if I ask you a few questions? I’ve heard about other kids going thru the same thing”.
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I need to add that all this early time he was suffering from bullying, threats of violence and sexual violence, suffering anxiety and engaging in self harm. There was a lot of action that had to be done to provide a safe learning environment. However, when the name, pronouns, hair, and clothes fit HIM, he exhibited a comfort of self that was so refreshing. He started to do better in the arenas of life, not all, but forward motion.
I totally get all of this. We experienced similar behaviors and while it took awhile to make changes for the better, he eventually got there.I also began by telling some friends of the name change as a way to open the conversation and share what was going on. Most were not surprised but needed education which I was more than happy to provide.
Amen! When my son came out as transgender, I cried tears of Joy! I was so incredibly proud of him. It was my most profound and proud moment as his mother. I haven’t met many that understand this… There was no loss to mourn, but rather a birth to celebrate and embrace🙏🏻
Blessings to you and yours.
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I can understand your feelings. My son is a much better version of himself now that he can live openly and authentically. I am so proud of who he is and is becoming as a person and as a man.
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Beautifully said… I share the same sentiment. To support and watch them blossom
into who they truly are is a Blessing. I feel privileged to walk beside him. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
I wish my parents were like you
Is there anything I can do to help support you?