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Mom, I'm Transgender. A Christian Mom's Journey.

Updated on April 4, 2015

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!

ME: --

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!

ME: --

PFLAG MOM: When she told me she was bisexual queer, I was completely fine with it – it was not an issue.

ME: --

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.

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Making the Journey as Joyful as Possible


Parent Support

I have started a support group for parents: 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


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    • wearing well profile image

      Deborah Waring 2 years ago from Lancashire U.K.

      Hi DebeT,

      I recently wrote the following in my child's birthday card:

      When I became a parent, I expected to become a teacher, as I believed it was my job to guide you through life.

      I have found though, that I have been given a wonderful gift, as I have had the opportunity to learn about unconditional love.

      I have learned to "let go" and trust you to find your way.

      Thank you for that opportunity and for sharing your beautiful spirit with me.

      I love you.

      And thank you DebeT for sharing a wonderful hub;I can relate to everything you've expressed as my teenager child has transgendered FTM over the past six years and what a journey it's been!

      Great you've created a support group; It's our expectations for our child when destroyed that hurt the most, fear for them in an already difficult society. It took me 2years to use the correct pronoun and get use to the name change, educating myself and researching for many years to find the answers to the cause and in the end excepting that this was the right decision for my child, who was trapped in the wrong biological body. It is gender and has nothing to do with sexuality. I truly bereaved a daughter but gained a contented son. Their happiness is all that matters otherwise we stand to loose our child! Exceptance is the key.

    • dpercept profile image

      Michelle 2 years ago from California

      I'm always glad to see individuals like yourself sort of making that sudden change. I don't see my parents often for a reason, as I don't want to have keep lying to them or having to pretend to be someone else, but I hope that results will be promising as you seem to have gone through a learning curve here. It give transgender people like myself a little more hope as things get hopeless when your parents insist on more strictly traditional values almost to a point where you fear for your well being. Thanks for being a wonderful human being a wonderful mother.

    • DebeT profile image

      Debe Tighe 2 years ago from USA

      DylanXavier: Hugs to you - don't give up on them figuring it out - meanwhile, keep a very strong support group around you of people who truly love you for YOU. I have some help for parents - my own support group -

    • DylanXavier profile image

      Dylan Xavier 2 years ago from Indianapolis

      What a wonderful story, I am new to the site and have recently shared my own coming out story as a transgender male. My family is religious as well and certainly don't support me like this but I am so glad there are parents like you out there! It sadens me to see people who turn their children away just for the way they are born and live.

    • profile image

      Cybele 3 years ago

      Everybody changes, always. Some changes are just bigger and more surprising than others, and take longer to get used to. My son will never go with your daughter to prom, but they seem to be having a great time together anyway. I'm pleased that everyone gets to be who they want to be. I'm grateful to have known your family for all these years. I'm impressed that you have not only accepted and supported, but are sharing and encouraging others to do the same. You embody the spirit of Unconditional Love. Thank you for being.

    • profile image

      Denise 3 years ago

      I too believe you are a wonderful mother and you expressed everything so beautifully - from accepting those you love just as they are to how we all expect so many things out of life or from people in our lives that are just that - our expectations. And although it will not always be easy because of how the world perceives how things should be - nothing is stronger than LOVE - the love of a family, the love of a parent & child, the love & support of family & friends, and most of all the love of God. God is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 '13 - 'But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.' And although I cannot express things as eloquently as you - know that your family and friends love you and God loves you. God bless!

    • profile image

      Ray 3 years ago

      You are a wonderful mother for accepting your daughter now son. You truly are a great Christian and set an example. People forget God is omnipotent; he knows everything from beginning to end. Nothing surprises him. People underestimate the saying "God works in mysterious ways". They usually expect it to work out in a way they expect it too, so when it doesn't then they think "Well pray to God and fix it". God bless you and your entire family.

    • profile image

      Me 3 years ago

      Beautifully and sensitively written. I agree with "Cuz"; I have loved the three of you for a long, long time. Nothing - not one thing - could ever change that.

    • profile image

      Cousin in Texas 3 years ago

      Be calm and accept. We have. You are loved, your husband is loved and your child is love by God and by us...JUST THE WAY YOU ALL ARE.

      I look forward to seeing you in May in DC



    • profile image

      Heartbroken 3 years ago

      Thank you for your reply and for your kind words. I just wanted to add that, although, we're heartbroken and sad we have and will continue to love our son unconditionally. Any sadness, confusion, anger etc that we've felt has been private. We show him nothing but support and love when we see him face to face. I refer(red) to him as our son because he hasn't transitioned yet and requested that we continue to address him as male until he does. I suspect things might be a bit..... easier for all of us once he transitions. Then we'll no longer be in limbo.

      It's interesting that you mentioned that you're developing a relationship with your son that's "more mature and deeper" because this is exactly what we long for with our son. Our hope is that he will feel relief, support and acceptance when he transitions and in turn will start to feel more comfortable with sharing his feelings with us. He's incredibly lucky because he's surrounded by a large family who is very open and accepting. I think his biggest enemy right, as he sorts through all of his confusing feelings and thoughts, is himself.

      I also wanted to thank you for the bible verse you included in your post. I drew great comfort from it. This is a pretty isolated path to walk on and touching base with anyone who can understand even a little really is a gift from God.

      Thank you.

    • DebeT profile image

      Debe Tighe 3 years ago from USA

      My Dear Heartbroken,

      I am so sorry that you are feeling so sad, especially after almost a year of knowing your child is transgendered. Every day I remind myself of Galatians 3:28, which says “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” If you can find a way to hold onto that – the realization that we are ALL part of His creation – even when things do not develop as we might have expected or hoped, well, that can be a revelation. I realize that my husband will never dance with his daughter at her wedding, but that’s just my “expectation.” In truth, maybe something even more exciting will be around the corner – and for that, I thank God for the experience. Oh, believe me when I say that if I had a magic wand and could change everything back, I would, but NOT if it meant that my child had to live in the wrong body/mind for the rest of his life. I would not wish that on anyone – and it is a very difficult journey when you decide to transition, so I know it has to be done with a great deal of thought and research. Bottom line, I hope you can find a way to love your “daughter” as you have your “son.” It is difficult to say those words – I do understand that. But I have to tell you, I recently looked at an old picture of my “daughter” in high school and thought she looked like a guy instead. I never believed I would see that – I am becoming more used to the face and the name together, and we are developing a different relationship, one that is unchartered water, but is more mature and a lot deeper than before. If you can be the rock for your transgendered adult, you are giving a gift to them that nobody else will be able to give – acceptance in who they really are INSIDE, not on what they look like or sound like on the outside. Isn’t that what we teach them from childhood? To not judge others based on what they look like or where they are from? I won’t cast that first stone, no matter what. And when someone casts one at my kid, I’m going to remain firmly planted in front of the line of fire – just like every good parent would. It is devastating, truly, to watch your child suffer, and being transgender is not an easy journey. I just know that without a loving family, or at least one or two close supporters, that heartbreak must be more than anyone can bare.

    • profile image

      Heartbroken 3 years ago

      Thank you for posting this. A year ago our son told us he is transgendered. It's strange - to have so many thoughts running through my head yet to write anymore than "our son is transgendered" is a huge struggle.... our hearts are broken for our child. In part because he loathes the "he" part of himself; the part we got to know while raising him, and also because it hurts to see our child in conflict and unhappy. So many thoughts, so few words to express this sadness...