Trans*(In)spiration

Two years ago I had two daughters (or so I thought). Two years ago I had absolutely no understanding of what it means to be transgender. Two years ago I had a teenager who hated their body, hated what it represented, hated the parts that were emerging.

mother's role mother's loveTwenty years ago I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. Twenty years ago I longingly looked at the swelling baby bumps of others and wondered when it would be my turn. Twenty years ago we lost the baby we treasured and loved and nurtured – it was the worst of times. Twenty years ago we thought we would never be parents.

Fortunately, with the help of modern medicine, our dreams were realized. Nearly nineteen years ago our first daughter was born. PURE JOY. If I could have bottled that feeling and sold it to the world we would no longer know war. SERIOUSLY. I was on cloud nine.

Lately, I have been privileged to hear stories from parents, trans* teens and trans* adults (some fully transitioned and out, others not) about their experiences, good and bad and how they are coping (or not). Most of the parents who reach out are allies. They are supportive of their child’s transition and are comforted to know that there are others out there going through the same thing. Sadly, most of the trans* teens I hear from are living in fear. They are afraid to come out to their family and to live authentically in a way that would give them a “wholeness.”

This breaks my heart.

One such young adult, 20 year old “Janine” identifies as female. Her community consists of a few private Facebook support groups where she can be herself. Otherwise, at home, at work and with extended family (even her siblings), she is a he. In the privacy of her room she can experiment with make-up and dream of the day that she can be who she was meant to be. I have become her “Ally Mom.”

Can you imagine going to work every day in a costume? What about wearing a mask to every business meeting? Transgender people who can’t “come out” to their families, friends, and place of employment walk around hiding behind a cloak of secrecy. Imagine the sadness and stress that they carry around.

I feel grateful beyond measure that our family can be open and honest and supportive of our own son and the community of which we are now a part. When my son snuggles up next to me I am taken back to that first moment when I laid eyes on my baby. This is what it means to be a parent.

When Ally Moms was formed the goal was to create a loving resource for those who didn’t have access to an accepting family and support system. It never occured to me that we would now be a resource for each other. Currently, we have about 60 moms (of trans* kids) who have stepped up to be available for a conversation and a friendly ear. As a group, we are smart, educated, accomplished, caring, kind, sensitive, understanding and creative. We are women who have chosen to be mothers. We are women who have inhaled the elixir – the joy of being a parent. These women inspire me.

One year ago our family transitioned from female pronouns to male pronouns, from Olivia to Hunter. One year ago we chose to change the way we thought about our child.

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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.

Thank you for loving your (trans*) child

love your transgender childSomeone just wrote me a note citing the irony of cheering on parents who are supportive of their transgender child(ren). Do we pat our friend on the back and say, “wow, love how supportive you are of your child with aspergers/down syndrome/adhd/dyslexia?”

Why is this different?

Let me tell you that as a parent of a child with attention and learning issues, I have long worn the “advocate” hat. Not until recently have I been so applauded for being there for my son on these cloudy days. I know I’ve said this a million times over, but I can’t imagine not being a loving, supportive parent no matter what my child is going through.

Don’t get me wrong — I fully appreciate a community who recognizes what I’m doing for my son. If I can change the course of someone else’s life because of the way I am parenting, then I will have done my job. Truthfully, I have never been more fulfilled.

This past week has fed my soul in a way that is, in some ways, indescribable. Women from all over the country (and some men), including a few from Canada and Europe, have raised their hands in support of transgender kids who are looking to find their way. Sadly, often it takes a tragedy to set the wheels in motion. The world lost a beautiful young woman, Leelah Alcorn, all because her parents did not love her enough.

They did not love her enough to get past their own fear and insecurities and religious upbringings. They did everything in their power to alienate, isolate and invalidate their daughter’s life. They forgot that when you bring a new life into the world, it is a parent’s job to nurture and guide and encourage and instill a feeling of self worth and independence. To do otherwise is abuse. To read another’s opinion on this, check out this article by Jessica Valenti.

OK…I will stop the rant now.

Over the last several days I’ve had the privilege of reading stories from other “transgender” families; really great stories. The concept and message is just so simple. If you love your child unconditionally amazing things will happen. All it takes is one loving, understanding adult to change the way a child feels about his or her place in the world. Ally Moms, dads, siblings, teachers, religious leaders — we are all able to make a difference, one child at a time.

I am reminded of the We are the World song release in support of the AIDS epidemic in the mid 80s. Listen to the lyrics. The message is so powerful and timeless.

Please share this. Hug your children. Practice tolerance. Open your arms and your hearts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.