I have a secret. It’s one that I’ve been holding onto for 44 years. My younger cousins will be shocked to know this secret as they think I never did anything wrong as a child. I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone this secret. It happened when I was four years old. My mom and I were carving a pumpkin for Halloween. My dad was on night shift so it was just the two of us. We started the process and cut the top off of the pumpkin. Next we scooped out the guts. My mom needed to use the restroom and before doing so she left very strict instructions not to eat any of the guts that we just scooped out while she was gone. Well that made me very curious. I waited until I was sure she was all the way up the stairs and in the bathroom before I proceeded to take the teeniest, tiniest, ittiest bittiest piece of pumpkin pulp…and popped it into my mouth.
She came back downstairs and we completed the carving of our pumpkin. And then it happened. I got very sick. I mean really sick. I don’t remember how many times I threw up, but it was a lot. I can only remember one other time 44 years later that I was as sick as I was that night. She asked me over and over again, “Lesa are you sure you didn’t eat any of that pumpkin?” And each time, “No I didn’t eat any.” Liar, liar pants on fire! I have no idea if the pumpkin made me sick. I mean…isn’t that where we get the pumpkin for pumpkin pie? Maybe you have to cook it before it’s edible? Could it have been my guilt from knowing I did something I wasn’t supposed to do that made me so sick? I guess we will never know…unless there is a pumpkin expert out there that will indeed tell me that raw pumpkin will make you deathly ill (smile).
My mom was trying to protect me and in return she got a sleepless night with a very sick little one. Protecting their children is something that is just a natural instinct that comes with motherhood. I have lots of examples of her fierce love and protective nature over me and my sister. This is just a small example and it’s a simple one. But for many moms, protecting our young is one of our greatest tasks. I think you will hear that in the “voice” of the next mom that is going to share with us. As you read her story about her transgender child, you will hear the protective mama bear coming out. And when you have a LGBTQ child, this task is even more daunting as so much of the world is against your child. (here is another article that will help explain that transgender is not a choice).
This mom has a child a bit further in the journey than the first mom who shared. Again, a very personal story will be shared with you. Please be respectful if you decide to comment. She is another amazing mom with a beautiful daughter and I am so happy that I’ve gotten to know her and proud to call her my friend.
And now the voice of a mom part III:
I am doing this writing for my friend Lesa that asked me to speak on behalf of myself & my transdaughter. I am doing this in hopes that it opens people’s eyes & hearts.
First some background…Although our journey that led us to another daughter began in my eyes many years ago, it has really only just begun. Let me explain…Drue is my 14-year-old daughter. She was born as Andrew (a boy). I was so excited to have a child and didn’t care of the sex as long as my child was happy and healthy as most moms I am sure would say. Drue joins our family with 2 other sisters. My husband and I are pretty easy-going parents and do everything with our kids. Never in the mom handbook or “What to expect with your toddler” did it ever have a chapter on raising a transgender child. I am damn glad it didn’t. I didn’t need some book telling me how to prepare myself for the amazing transformation my child was about to undertake in the future ahead.
We have been so blessed with this amazing, talented, fun-loving gift. I could tell from a very young age that Drue was different from the other little boys. He was always very nurturing, kind, loving & sweet, so artistic and loved to learn. He would watch every move I made and try to mimic them. I thought, “Ok, this is normal because my oldest daughter did the same.” He carried a blanket around everywhere and would put it on his head and pretended it was his long beautiful “girl” hair. He would wear my heels around the house and even outside on the concrete to hear them on the sidewalk. I told myself, “What kids don’t do that?”
At around age three, Drue would play with toys that I thought were enjoyable “boy” toys, but he never seemed happy when doing so. My oldest daughter had Barbie dolls all over the house. One day Drue picked a Barbie up and an enormous smile filled his face…one that I haven’t ever quite seen. It was a different kind of happy. Drue joyfully played with that doll endlessly and Barbie went everywhere with us
When we went to the store, he always chose the “girl” aisle of toys and I thought “Ok, so what…it’s just toys.” I would try to take him and almost force him to pick out “boy” toys. Sometimes, unwillingly, I could tell he would just pick one only to satisfy me. Finally I said to myself, “That’s it. It is plain to see that girl toys make my child happy.” And if he is happy so am I. Parenting sometimes involves compromising. You learn this pretty early.
Several years of pain and suffering inside his own head trying to figure out who he was and where he belongs really took a toll on his life. At around 4th or 5th grade, he was bullied in school and begged me to remove him and home school him. It got to the point that he asked me to take him to the hospital for help and even said to his older sister I just don’t want to wake up. I knew at that moment I would do anything I had to do to make sure I didn’t lose my child.
After years of therapy and loving support, our child finally figured out who he was and where in this world he belonged. Andrew was always a girl trapped in a boy’s body. It was so clear now. There is no doubt this is how our child was born. I brought this child into this world and I made a promise to love and protect this child no matter what life brings. I told her we will make it work. We will do whatever we need to do and that she had mine and her dad’s support. As I was saying this out loud to her, I meant every word… I really did. I just didn’t know if I really could follow through with that. As a mom, we always fear for our children’s safety. This was so out of my control that I really didn’t know if I always could protect her but I know I will do my best.
As a parent I never felt a loss of a son. My child was always there…just in a different body. I love my child for the person she is and the heart that she has.
Now for the questions that Lesa outlined:
1. How do you know this isn’t just a phase?
A phase is a small part of life that someone can go through, but it’s not followed through with for a very long period of time. It’s kind of like when someone changes their hair color all the time to keep up with the new “phase”. You know it’s not a phase when it has always been there and showed up in many different ways. When I hear people say that this “lifestyle” is a choice it burns me up inside. No person, especially a child, would ever choose this life. It is a life full of questioning, wondering, re-building. It’s full of bullying, harassment, depression, drugs and sometimes suicide. I wish people could understand that these are precious children full of a ton of love that are simply born in the wrong body.
2. Are you hurting your child by giving them hormones or puberty blockers? Should you wait until they are older?
The answer for my child’s situation is absolutely positively without a doubt NO!! It would actually harm my child to not have blockers or start on hormones. My daughter received a puberty blocker at age 13. This is all a part of saving her life. So along with doctors who agreed it was time to start, the puberty blocking process began. The reason it’s so important is if you can only try to imagine being born a woman and growing a beard…no woman wants that. Well that’s horrific to my trans daughter. This process stops facial hair, Adams apple, and voice deepening etc… For our daughter to survive this had to be done. In a few short months, she will start hormone therapy so she can feel more and more like a young lady as her other girlfriends do.
3. Aren’t you saying God made a mistake?
God doesn’t create junk or mistakes. God loves all. This child was NO mistake. This child is one of the absolute greatest gifts in not just my life but everyone she meets. She loves deeply with no judgment on anybody. Frankly, I feel that more of us could learn from her. I firmly believe she was brought into my life to teach pure love & acceptance. If we say God made a mistake, then that’s passing judgment and how can we do that as Gods children? Are handicap children mistakes? Are drug addicted born babies mistakes? No and neither is a child that was born in the wrong body.
4. What’s the big deal with the bathroom?
This is a touchy question and it’s been a battle that I hate arguing about. No person understands what it’s like to walk in the shoes of our transgender children. The bathroom and locker room is a very scary place for my child. My child has changed clothes for gym and uses the toilet in the nurse’s office for 2 years now. The nerves and anxiety kick in and its tears and so many fears about what someone is going to say next. The funny part is when we go into a bathroom…we are going in there behind a door to use the toilet. We are not standing there to check people out. Hate to break it to everyone also but transgender people have used the restrooms for decades and guess what?? Nobody’s ever known. They are human beings like us and they deserve to share the same rights we all have.
In ending, this is definitely not the life I pictured having, but I honestly can’t imagine it any other way. I am the blessed one because I get to see life through Drue’s eyes. She wants to try to better this world and I will continue to do so for her and many others.
I recently asked her if she wanted the pictures removed off the wall of her past…the old “Andrew” photos. She said no because it was all part of who she is and the journey we are on. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She is a pure loving child that I know is exactly where she is supposed to be in life.
Thanks for listening with open ears and I hope you have an open heart now as well if you didn’t before.
Lesa here: Thanks once again for taking the time to read another mom’s journey. I think it helps us to understand (as best we can) what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. I also think it is an act of love to step outside of ourselves to try to gain an understanding of something before we have a strong opinion on it. I love this mom and her family and I would protect her “cubs” as if they were my very own.
Because love matters…