Five Years

Thanks to Facebook I was reminded that it was five years ago since my last family reunion. Nothing about this meant anything to anyone but me.

And for me, this little tidbit was a life changer.

See, five years ago was the last time most of my extended family saw my children (save the ones who I’m friends with on Facebook who pay attention to anything I post- making that number pretty small). Michael was 21, Kris (formerly Kerri) was 18 and Andrew was 15.

Just days following that family reunion, Kris came out to us as transgender- identifying as male, not the female. Since that day- which was a major turning point in all of our lives- we have embarked on an amazing journey.

We experienced name changes, pronoun changes, wardrobe and appearance changes. We saw the effects of testosterone as Kris transitioned. And then we found out what remains when T is no longer taken. We updated a license, social security, insurance and other various documents/cards with a new name and/or gender. Our relationships with each other as well as outsiders was put to the test. While I’m happy to report that our inner group of 5 remains strong, we lost people along the way. It’s unfortunate but we know who the genuine people are in our lives and we know who will be there when the chips are down. That is a gift that is most precious.

And to the casual outside observer, say someone who isn’t really paying close attention, if they look at my Facebook page today, they see Kris (who some might remember as Kerri, some might not even notice that the name changed 3 times) 5 years older than our 2011 Kris/Kerri. If they are unaware, they will have no doubt that Kris is a girl. A woman of 23 now. And they will be wrong.

My relationship with Kris has transitioned as Kris has transitioned. These days it closely resembles what it might have looked like if Kris was still Kerri and was not transgender. Bras and feminine products are on our shopping list. Kris asks if I have red nail polish or for my opinion on their eyebrows. With only a few minor exceptions, Kris’s gender expression is female. Their gender identity is non-binary. Things are calm right now.

As for me? Well, I’m in a different place now. I’ve gotten used to seeing Kris dressed as a girl. I’ve become so accustomed to it that photos of Kris as a boy seem like long ago. I have adjusted to the name change for the most part. (Kris will remain Kris in my blogging- which is how I know that I have accepted their new name. In my head and in my writing the new name is the first to pop out and I have to correct it to Kris.)

My subconscious is another story. Kris’s pronouns are they, them, theirs. My pronouns for Kris are so inconsistent. Hes and shes are interspersed with theys- sometimes all in the same sentence. In my thoughts shes are lurking around every corner. I understand that seeing Kris as a girl is triggering those feminine pronouns. But I also feel the internal struggle with wanting to have a neat little package tied with a bow- and I know that I cannot have that. My head understands that there is not a special word that equates son or daughter in non-binary but my heart yearns for it.

I’ve lost my place in my support groups as well. I’m no longer the parent of a child who transitioned from female to male or identifies as male. While I have the experiences of the last five years. I do not know anyone who has a child who is non-binary with their gender expression matching the sex they were assigned at birth. In some circles Kris isn’t considered transgender. I read the posts and attend the meetings and support anyone I encounter who is struggling with their trans kid, but part of me feels like I no longer fit in. I seem to be surrounded by parents celebrating their children’s transitions, surgeries, name changes…… I’m so happy for them. (And confused for me.) I am sure that these wonderful people will continue to be supportive- even if I feel like I don’t belong here. I know this because these are truly the most amazing people in the world- supportive parents of transgender people.

I’m uneasy right now. In other parts of my life I am facing challenges that might make my experience with Kris look like child’s play.

Everything happens for a reason, right? Well, I know I have at least one friend who doesn’t really believe this. (And she knows who she is- if she reads this… which I hope she will because maybe it will help her to understand part of my silence lately.)

The past five years presented me with the biggest challenge of my life (or so I thought). My world was turned upside down and continued to be so for probably four of the five years. And it might be that this journey is not over yet and this is just an ebb…. waiting for the flow to return. But maybe it is not. And maybe the last five years was preparing me for what lies ahead.

One thing is certain. Wait, maybe two…… three.

  • I learned that I am much stronger than I ever realized.
  • If you truly love your child, it doesn’t matter what their name is or if they wear a dress or not. You just love them.
  • The LGBTQ community is truly AMAZING.

So as I post something to Facebook, there might be friends who look at my latest posts and think, “Hmm, not much going on there. Kids are growing up. Cute little boys. She looks older….” But the ones who know, will know. They will understand the significance of the picture I shared today. They will be familiar with the journey that got me to this place, some coming in part way, some dropping in and out, and the special ones who have been with me every step of the way.

I’m not sure what the next five years will bring and while I continue along Kris’s road, another path has joined our family’s path. I’m anxious, unsure if I’m truly up for what we will be facing, but I felt this way before….five years ago. And I’m still here. We’re all still here.

 

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12 thoughts on “Five Years

  1. Well you have me 🙂 Jeremy can be fairly feminine (picture the stereotypical gay male) but does a lot of traditionally male things and, thanks to sensory issues, dresses primarily in silky soccer shorts or track pants. My family has shrunk and people usually assume Jeremy is male and think I’m trying to force them to be trans (because my stubborn 6ft2in offspring is *that* easy to force). People don’t look at a tall person dressed in track pants and a tshirt, babbling about computers, and think non-binary or female.

    Last week my whole family was hanging out with the uncle who disowned me and this week they’re chilling with my sister who disowned me. I’m so glad I booked a holiday to look forward to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I have you and you have me! I’m so happy for that! It’s funny that you mention the notion that you could even force Jeremy to be trans- it seems that people seem to assume either we are forcing our kids or we are being too lenient and it’s just a phase. With my relatives, it was always that it was just a phase and why was I humoring Kris? (They knew I couldn’t force Kris to do anything.)

      I’m really glad that you have your holiday to look forward to, too! You really deserve a break! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm – the only thing that stays constant, is change, hey? You had the strength to get to where you are, you will have the strength to where you need to be. You are one amazing woman. Bear hugs from afar.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I didn’t find it rambly at all. I found it rich – it made me think about so many things: how we mark time with Facebook now; family and friends stuff; being part of a group; not being part of the group; de-transitioning (but not); pronouns; being non-binary, needing answers . . . so much!
        I followed your blog because you had a trans child and then was pleasantly surprised when you started writing about photography, cooking, your other kids, other stuff that goes on in your life. I liked it because for me I was going through the early part of a process where every single little thing seemed to relate to having a trans child.
        There’s a mum I know whose kid seemed for a while to be trans but then felt that he was happy being non-binary. At that point this mum wrote to me and a few others (there’s not many where we live) asking if she could still keep in touch and be ‘part of the group’. And my response was OF COURSE but she did seem more distant because we were going through all the stuff to do with blockers and document changes and social transitioning. She wasn’t and I was quite envious. There’s nothing in me that wants to be part of this process with my child. It’s just that we have to this – so I have a lot of awe and gratitude for those that walked the path before us.
        I’ve also thought that in some ways it’s so much more difficult to be non-binary or agender. I think we all like boxes and labels and diagnoses because then we know what to do.
        Anyway, in this case, this child hit puberty, was completely overwhelmed by dysphoria and realised that yes, they’re trans. And so this mother’s both got more certainty and more grief and is also more ‘part of the club’ now.
        The ‘club’ thing is weird. I mean, it didn’t exist more than a decade ago: supportive parents of trans kids? It’s an invaluable life raft for me but at the same time it can get so hard to ‘hold the space’ for difference and uncertainty. I want my kid to know that they can change their mind about any part of their identity and/or presentation – but this isn’t easy. So I admire you and Kris all the more for having the self-belief, strength and sense of efficacy to do that.
        Anyway, you do a lovely job in this post of describing what goes on underneath the maturation of a seemingly ‘normal’ family. I shared it privately on my parents page and many people agreed!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You know the thing is family is family. Shit happens. Drama. Angst. Argument. Love. Hate. Five years is not a long time in the scheme of things. I think you are incredible. Would I be so accepting? I really hope so. I hope that if Daughter came to me and told me she was confused, concern, questioning, transgender, trans-whatever that I would be behind her 110%!

    Feck it would be hard here in Turkey though. I can only imagine the gossip and the hate. Village life here isn’t as accepting or forgiving.

    You are amazing and your family is amazing!

    Run with it! You guys rock!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your kind words! As a mom, I don’t know how to be any other way. And in all honesty, while at times it felt like forever, five years really was the blink of an eye in the big picture. The thing that matters most is that my kid is still alive and getting happier and more at ease in their body as time goes by. 🙂

      You never know how you’re going to react to something like this until it’s staring you in the face. I like to think that we do our best and if we mess up, we dust ourselves off and give it another try. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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