Mom, I'm Transgender. A Christian Mom's Journey.
Finding the Right Balance
Something to Consider
“People changed lots of other personal things all the time. They dyed their hair and dieted themselves to near death. They took steroids to build muscles and got breast implants and nose jobs so they'd resemble their favorite movie stars. They changed names and majors and jobs and husbands and wives. They changed religions and political parties. They moved across the country or the world -- even changed nationalities. Why was gender the one sacred thing we weren’t supposed to change? Who made that rule?”
― Ellen Wittlinger, Parrotfish
Support for the Mom of a Transgendered Adult
How to begin. That is my problem. How do I begin to share what it is like to be the mother of someone who is transgendered? How do I write with the perfect balance of compassion, honesty, understanding, spiritual witness, and personal struggles and still leave a legacy for my adult child to remember in a positive way?
These are my questions. I have stalled on writing about this for almost 10 months – the timeframe in which I ceased to be the mother of a daughter and became the mother of a son. The timeframe that included huge amounts of worry, wonder, confusion, prayer, fear, research, and relief. The timeframe that tested the truth in the words “I love you no matter what.”
I have finally decided that what I need to share is this – people will always surprise you.
Going to a meeting with PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) was eye-opening. There was a parent of a so-called transgender FTM there. I thought, great! Here’s someone to connect with as a Mom. The conversation went like this:
ME: We (husband and I) just found out about our FTM (female-to-male) adult child. We know a little, but thought it would be helpful to learn more.
PFLAG MOM: My daughter is bisexual queer – and is marrying a FTM person at our house this June. We are overjoyed! We just couldn’t be happier!
PFLAG MOM: We’re planning this big wedding – all our family and friends are over-the moon excited about it, and we just love her partner. I couldn’t have asked for it to turn out any better!
PFLAG MOM: When she told me she was bisexual queer, I was completely fine with it – it was not an issue.
This really happened. Not word-for-word as above, but literally a bubbling fountain of joy and happiness and tranquility! It was totally unreal to me. And by that I don’t me “unreal” in the sense of it being way cool – I mean, what Mom or Dad is that happy about this? It just seemed so fake – like there is maybe an unwritten PFLAG rule that says “Always make it positive, no matter what!” I’m not saying there is such a rule, but I would not be surprised if there is one. Must. Not. Rely. On. PFLAG.
Now, on the other side of the coin, my Christian friends are supportive in prayer. They have all said “We love you, your child, and we support you all.” That doesn’t mean they all agree with the decisions, but they have been gracious to listen and let us share. However, I have come to the conclusion that sharing must only go so far with this topic – eventually, you push the boundaries of their personal convictions and beliefs. Must. Be. Careful.
So, I have ended up feeling a little like I am out on a lake in a canoe with no paddle– I just float wherever the water takes me.
It takes me to the dining room, where testosterone injections are administered.
It takes me to websites about transgender clothing options to purchase – to help lessen the stress.
It takes me to the men’s department – and to arguments about fit and style – the one I see and the one he wants everyone to see.
Mostly, it takes me to the heart of my family – to my now son – who has struggled and fought, and been broken down to the core fighting what he knows in his heart – that he’s a he after all. Time to stop the struggle. Time to move forward and find a place in the world. Time to live honestly and make that imagine in the mirror match the one in his mind and heart. Time to take bold and brave steps towards a life you and your parents did not plan or imagine.
Someone said to me, “Do you pray that God will take this away and change his mind back?” I answered that I couldn’t ask that of God because it would be showing that I didn’t love my child unconditionally – no matter what. God already knew about this – I’m just catching up! He made my child and He makes no mistakes, ever! Yes, my child was physically born female. I get that. But, someone who has known “her” for many years, upon finding out about “him” said “Well, that explains a lot.” Looking back, I can see the connections to being the other gender for my child – and the struggle to put on the societal face of a female. And as a parent, I don’t feel any guilt or anything like that because I was a great Mom and truly just never had this on my radar. And you never really know how kids will turn out in the end – although we all have our wishes and dreams for them and for their future. It’s true my dreams have changed a little, but not that much…don’t we all just want our kids to be happy?
My prayer and hope is that people will treat my son with respect, fairness, and the same courtesy as anyone else. For those who knew him as a girl, this will not always be easy, but it is the right thing to do. For those who have a conviction (religious or otherwise) that this is just wrong – I hope they will take the stance I believe Christ would take – love the person. That’s all – just love them and accept them and support them – 100%. You don’t have to agree with everything. But for those of you who believe that LGBT people are sinners, I ask you, can you let God worry about the “sin” aspects of life, and just make sure you are not committing a bigger sin by judging another person, or shunning a person, or turning your back on a friend when they need you? I hope you can. I hope you can let God help you put aside the questions you don’t know the answers to, and just let Him help you love one another. No matter what.
I love my son. He is actually one of the coolest people I know. He’s trying hard to work through this “transitional” period with as much diplomacy and strength as possible. He knows he has two parents who love him unconditionally, but who are also going through their own personal transitional phase. I mean, I’m not doing things perfectly right, but I am trying. I struggle – sometimes daily, sometimes minute-by-minute. I still call him by his old name once in a while – it’s not second-nature to me yet – but I’m getting much better! I worry like a mom – will he make friends? Will he meet someone and fall in love? Did that shot hurt? Will he get that next job?
Gender has nothing to do with these “Mom” questions – we all ask them. And isn’t that the point? Love your child – no matter what – and whatever the “what” turns out to be, give thanks to God, who made us all and loves us unconditionally – no matter what.
Quick Unscientific Poll Question
Are you the parent of a transgender adult?
Making the Journey as Joyful as Possible
Human Rights Campaign
- Human Rights Campaign
Learn more about HRC’s work to advance LGBT equality and educate the public about LGBT issues.
World Professional Association for Transgender Health
- WPATH - World Professional Association for Transgender Health
World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)
I have started a support group for parents: TransParentNetwork4You@gmail.com if it can be of help to anyone. Not affiliated with any political or religious organzation - just parents supporting other parents/family in positive ways to support their trans family.
© 2013 Debe Tighe