From Teen Lesbian to Grown (Trans) Man

After several years of “being a lesbian,” and a brief stint identifying as gender queer, Sherri’s son finally figured out he was transgender. They were lucky because Zak talked to both parents for hours on end while he was trying to come to terms with his identity.

sherri palmer and zachNow at 25, he is legally male, married to a woman, has had top surgery and is on “T.” It sounds like there was more discussion and uncertainty about his name than whether he was male or female. Vacillating between two spellings of Zak/Zach/Zachary, the third official name change seemed to stick.

“He was SUPER shy and VERY anxious his whole life and especially in HS. It started getting better in college; there was a big improvement after he started his social then physical transition. He is more anxious than the norm – but his self-esteem and sense of well-being are so much better now. He is less emotional since being on testosterone.”

As far as family acceptance, it’s been a mixed bag. Sherri’s dad, ZaK’s grandpa, gave them lip service. He apologized for insisting that his grandson was really a girl but when he came to visit, he could “barely look at my son.” Sherri’s mom hoped that Zak would “go back to being a lesbian,” but after seeing an Oprah episode about trans* people, seemed to have a greater understanding and acceptance.

The little ones in the family really didn’t bat an eye. When Sherri’s three year old granddaughter was told that “we thought we had a baby girl but realized that we really had a boy,” she accepted the information without question. It was several years later when she realized the “part about the penis.” At that point she asked if he “had girl parts down there.”

When Zak began shaving it was a big deal. Of course, there were issues in finding clothes to fit his changing body; now, he is fully masculinized and knows what fits and what doesn’t.

Living in a small town has its challenges. Either everyone knows your business or they remember when…

You get past the awkward moments with a smile and learn to share just enough with inquiring minds so they are left with either the desire to know more out of morbid curiosity or true compassion and understanding.


Sherri is one of our Ally Moms. This new series profiles an Ally Mom along with her child to share a piece of their journey. In some cases, names will be changed to protect privacy.

Contact us below to find out how to be an Ally Mom.

Inspiring Blog Award

blog awardThank you to TransgenderAndMe for nominating me. I am always humbled and awed when my words can move and inspire others. Recently, while we mourned the senseless loss of Leelah Alcorn, one by one, moms raised their hands and said, “I want to help.”

It is this sincerity and heartfelt coming together that creates community and a stronger future for our children. I hope that this effort, known as Ally Moms, will inspire others to not only love their children unconditionally, but show the world that transgender individuals need understanding, support and acceptance even if we don’t fully have the answers.

I was asked to recognize other bloggers for their words and efforts as well as to post random facts about me. I am not very good at following the rules…There are a couple of bloggers whom I follow. I will call out their names and respective links in another post.

This is just a quickie to acknowledge being acknowledged. I am flattered and honored that you chose me to be among your list of wonderful bloggers.

Body Dysphoria

Does this make my butt look big? Are my eyes too far apart? Look at the bags under my eyes. Should I get botox? What about liposuction?

I don’t know about you, but there are certainly things I don’t like about my body. We all have our “trouble” spots and thanks to self-help and fashion mags I’ve learned how to mask, camouflage and enhance in just the right way. Jeans, bathing suits and undergarments create flat tummies, hourglass figures and the appearance of smooth, toned hips, butts and thighs.

When someone affirms as the opposite gender, it is not unusual for them to HATE their body. This is not about a little cellulite or age lines. This is about having a body that does not align with the gender they believe to be. Can you IMAGINE thinking and believing that you look a certain way, that you should look a certain way and then you look in the mirror and see a completely different image? CAN YOU IMAGINE that?

Body dysphoria: The incongruity between what the brain expects the body to be versus how the body is actually configured.*

This is different from not liking the way your skin sags as you age.

Sadly, Hunter experiences body dysphoria, some days not so much, some days a lot, but I do think it’s always there.

body dysphoria

Hunter’s Song

In an effort to reassure him, I offered, “I know your body is not what you want. I know what you see is not what you want to see. I get it. Try to remember that this is a process. The transition and changes will not happen overnight.”

I hope my words helped him. I cannot ever know what it feels like to be transgender, to want to be someone else, to be Hunter. I cannot ever know what it feels like to really hate what I see when I look in the mirror.