Family · Gender



There’s no formula to living life. You don’t insert this data into a prescribed algorithm and everything turns out fine. And every person’s experience is unique to them.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Christmas can bring feelings of sadness for moms of transgender kids. It’s not all moms. Some sail through the holidays with little thought of what has been lost, able to fully focus on what IS.

But some of us have a more difficult time. It’s hard to explain exactly why that is. One thing I can assure you is that I am overly sensitive and defensive when I’m faced with someone telling me to love the child I have and be happy that he’s alive and all that.

I’m pretty sure that my feelings for my son have everything to do with my feelings of loss for the daughter I thought I had. It’s because I love and cherish my child so much that I miss the one I thought I had. But I digress..

In my mission to get the tree decorated, I enlisted CJ’s help. He is my grandson, he’s six years old and he does not know that his Uncle Kris is transgender.

His task was to help me sort ornaments into 3 piles- Kris’s ornaments, Andrew’s ornaments and everything else.

I would hold up an ornament and he would read the name and place it in the correct pile. Things were moving along nicely when we hit a roadblock. I pulled out the ornament* (pictured above) and turned it over, fully expecting to see Kris’s name on it. I hesitated when I saw “Kerri” still written across the back. Oops! How had this ornament managed to sneak through? This was the 5th Christmas since Kris had come out.

As my luck would have it, this was the one time CJ was actually paying attention. He reached for the ornament and said, “Whose is it?”

Until this year, CJ was not reading and this wouldn’t have been an issue but since I seemed to be having a streak of bad luck, he frowned and said, “Kris? That doesn’t say Kris. What is this name?”

“Kerri,” I replied. Kerri is a name he has only heard perhaps three or four times.

I placed the ornament aside and moved on to the next ornament, choosing a very cool one, hoping to distract him. No such luck. After a short pause, he asked, “Who’s Kerri?”

Another pause, this time mine. “She is a girl we used to know.”

And that was that.

Fast forward to a few hours later when I was telling Kris and Andrew about the ornament.

“That’s all?”he asked. I nodded. “She’s here in spirit.”

I nodded. “Yes, she is.”

Kris remarked, “Here’s another one.” He was holding a Furby ornament with “Kerri” written carefully across its beak.

“How did that one sneak past, too? How many more are there?” I asked.

Kris shrugged. “This one’s okay. I’m putting it on the tree anyway.” And the Furby ornament took a place of honor, front row and center. As he was walking out of the room, I heard him say, “She’s always with us.”

It wasn’t until I was talking to Kris about these ornaments that I felt the lump in my throat and the tug at my heart. As Kris is becoming more comfortable expressing his gender, which does not fit any description I can come up with other than its so KRIS, I feel Kerri more and more. At those times it’s not a tug but a gripping squeeze that takes my breath away because I’m still not accustomed to her presence mixed up so much with Kris. I still have a lot to work through in this area and as always I don’t want Kris to know that I struggle with this. I want him to feel safe and loved and accepted as he figures things out. My issues are my own and I won’t put them on him. I love him just as I always have and always will. Nothing will ever change that. None of this changes who he is.

There’s a good chance that Christmas will always be tinged with a smidge of sadness but I am choosing to hold onto all the happy memories of that “girl we used to know”.

Oh, and as far as the tree goes? Once we put the replacement angel on the tree, it will be already to be shared for Hugh’s Photo Challenge: Week 8- Charity Christmas Tree Topper Challenge. We are still pondering names- we have two possibilities- Sophie or Rafiki.

*The story behind the ornament. Kerri began taking horseback riding lessons at 13. I was nervous because horses are pretty darn big when a person is an average sized kid. Kerri was not, always having had an affinity with animals. Aside from bringing back memories of that specific time in Kerri’s life, this reminds me that this is one of countless times that Kris showed a courage, strength and determination to overcome obstacles to work towards a goal.