Tag: transgender child

The Angel on My Tree

Originally written two years ago, I’m sharing this post again for all of those moms of transgender kids who find themselves struggling at this time of year.

IMG_9297This will mark our sixth Christmas since Kris came out as transgender and navigating the holidays has been a journey in itself. I’m happy to report that each year it becomes less and less of an issue. This year is probably the first one that will only find me shaking my head at the ornaments and wondering what’s next.

Whether you are facing your first Christmas or your tenth since your child came out, if it is causing you to feel sad or a bit blue, please know that in time, it will get better. You won’t be in this place forever and you are not alone.

Dandelion Fuzz

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people for any number of reasons. The list is endless. For me, my downfall is the ornaments on our tree. Since Michael’s first Christmas 25 years ago, my kids got ornaments with their name and the year on them. Some years I would also get a personalized family ornament. Then lets add in the ones given as gifts over the year, always with a name on them. That’s a lot of ornaments.

When Kris first came out as transgender, the impact of opening the boxes that first Christmas and seeing the name that I had given my daughter times 18 (and more) caught me off guard. That first year, all of the ornaments with Kerri’s name on them were put away in a separate box. During year two, I braved that smaller box and studied each ornament, determining which ones would survive…

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Yesterday I Cried

It came in the mail the day before yesterday- an envelope addressed to Kris from the Secretary of State.

It holds Kris’s new license. New picture. Old gender marker.

Almost all of Kris’s ducks are in a row. All documentation is marked female. The only thing left to do is a legal name change- to Kris’s new chosen name. I’m not sure when that will happen. That doesn’t matter right now.

What does matter is that Kris’s gender marker is consistent everywhere.

I kept waiting to feel something. Anything. The last (nearly) six years have been quite a journey. Kris’s license change might not signal the end of the journey but it was still kind of big.

On the surface with the exception of Kris’s name, the last years could have not happened. And yet so much did- years of ups and down, self discovery and exploration, growth and acceptance. In our lives, all of this was HUGE. I can’t begin to count the times I was overcome with emotion through this time- when Kris came out, seeing Kris in a binder, calling Kris by a different name with male pronouns, losing people, watching Kris transform before my eyes, the first piece of mail with Kris’s new name on it, the pain when “Kerri” still showed up on mail, the first time Kris got a testosterone shot, the lower voice and shorter hair, shopping for girl clothes again, seeing Kris in a dress for the first time in years, and then the gradual emergence of Kris as they are today. All of these moments and countless others made me feel something- whether it was pain, heartache, joy, happiness, pride, anger, or determination- it was something.

So then Kris’s license came in the mail and—

nothing.

What was wrong with me? Was I just numb after all that had gone on? Was I too rundown to really let the emotions free? If this didn’t tug at my heart, why didn’t I at least feel happiness or peace? Was it because it didn’t really change anything except lowering our auto insurance a little? Was it because it didn’t give me a daughter and it didn’t take a son away from me? Was it because it did not clarify anything? Did I really feel nothing?

And then yesterday, I cried.

And I don’t know why.

ducks in a row

 

Say Nothing or Something 

For the past year or so I have found myself to be in a peculiar place. It has been evident in my posts (or lack there of).

Quick background info (you can skip this if you are familiar with the story of Kris): 5 years ago my 18 year old daughter, Kerri, came out as transgender. Within 6 months, she had transitioned to male name (Kris), pronouns, presentation and took testosterone for over 3-1/2 years. Less than a year ago, Kris stopped taking testosterone and more feminine clothing began to appear in his wardrobe. He explained that he is non-binary/genderqueer- not identifying really as a boy or as a girl. Currently Kris has changed to they, them, their pronouns and their gender expression is primarily female. 

And this brings us to where I am. I’m finding myself at a loss at times when I’m faced with a new parent of a transgender child who is struggling. I will never forget what I felt when I found out that Kris was transgender. When a person in that position starts speaking, I hear a certain quality in their voice that transports me right back there. I remember feeling so incredibly much. I often felt like I was a walking exposed nerve. I know I looked the part. So I can easily relate and hopefully offer words of encouragement and comfort.

It’s the next part that has me stumped. So many parents are unsure of starting hormones, name and gender marker changes, surgeries and all that.

Kris saw a gender therapist and a psychiatrist and a doctor who had tons of experience with transgender patients. They all agreed that Kris showed very consistent signs that he was transgender and identified as a boy. Kris knew he was a boy. He was consistent, persistent and insistent. He fit the mold for the model female to male transgender person. He wanted to start testosterone as soon as he could. He was looking forward to getting top surgery but we had told him he needed to wait for that- start T and let’s see how it goes. My husband and I were very cautious entering this journey. Part of that was our fear and ignorance but then, we just wanted to be sure that we were making the right decisions with Kris. We were also dealing with a potential ticking time bomb because the truth was that Kris was over 18 and did not need our stamp of approval for anything he did. He was okay with not having biological children and ready to adopt.

And then the last year unfolded before our eyes and our transgender ftm kid became a non-binary kid whose gender expression matches their sex assigned at birth. Although Kris has been off testosterone for over a year, there are a few side effects that will never go away.

The top surgery haunts me. Or I should say, the top surgery that we did not do. Kris and I have talked about what would have happened if we let them  have that surgery that first year, like they were pushing so hard for. They’re glad we did not. Kris wants to be pregnant one day and experience pregnancy and childbirth. We are not sure if that will be possible due to the past testosterone use. Kris was 18 when we began this journey. Kris is now 23.

I don’t want to be the voice of doom or a cautionary tale. I want to be encouraging and supportive for parents who are in the position I was in 5 years ago. But I look at Kris and I worry.  And when I start responding to a parent’s concerns with my own experience, I find myself leaving out the part where Kris is now or deleting my response. I remember what it felt like in those early days- really that first year. I know that if I read about Kris now, I would look at it as if it was a lifeline. I’ve seen the look on other parents’ faces when they hear about Kris- that hope that maybe their kids will end up like Kris. The problem is- you just don’t know. For all I know, Kris could have a buzz cut and be asking if I know where their binders are next week. You don’t know until you know and then you still don’t know for sure. 

Kris and I have talked about this a lot. Not all kids are like Kris. Maybe most are not. But I keep going back to the first 3 years when Kris was certain that he was a boy. Kris had to go through those years to reach the place where they were comfortable being themselves and it helped to confirm that being a boy was not who they were. Maybe some feel it differently than Kris did/does.

I’m not even sure we belong in those groups anymore. When people hear about Kris, they jump to the conclusion that Kris is “going back to being a girl” and it literally causes me pain to try to explain it at this point. Kris has admitted to not going to LGBT groups anymore because they feel like they are taking up space that someone else needs more. This tells me that I’m not the only one in this strange place.

 So, what am I saying? I’m not sure. Each parent will be helping their child make these decisions, if the child is under 18. These are not decisions to be made lightly and having been there (although with an older child), I don’t envy the task at hand.

What do I say? Nothing? Everything? Something in between?

I just don’t know. For the time being, I will err on the side of caution and go with-

When in doubt, say nothing.

Just Like You

When you meet me and my family, I’m asking you a favor. Keep an open mind. We are your average family…..or as average as anyone can be these days.

I’m married to the father of my three children. We have lived in the same house for the past 20 years. My oldest child is married and has two children and my other two are in college. Growing up my kids were involved in Scouts, band, karate and other various activities. We took annual family vacations and trips to the zoo and museums. I was a Scout leader, PTO and booster mom. Over the years we had fish, birds and a dog as pets.

Two of my kids have freckles. Two are left-handed. All three play musical instruments. Three loved Pokemon growing up. Two have been avid Star Wars fans. One paints. Two are natural comedians. All three are creative although by different degrees- creativity drives one, the other channels his creativity into his life’s passion and the last keeps his in check, allowing it to appear in little bursts. One is an extrovert and two are introverts. Two of my kids look just like me. They all have different color hair and eyes. One has curly hair and the other two have straight hair. Two are boys and one is transgender (see below for definition).

I worried about one child who struggled with reading. Two of them broke bones before they were three years old. One needed stitches at the age of 12. They all had strep throat more than once and pink eye only once (thank goodness!). Two had scarlet fever. They all had chicken pox.

——-Wait- what? (remember that open mind I asked you to keep?)

Until that second that you read that word, we seem like a pretty normal family, right? Nowadays our family has grown to include a daughter-in-law and two small boys. We might be a bit noisier or take up an entire aisle at the grocery store at times. You probably passed us at Target or sat a table away from us when we are at a restaurant. You stood behind us in line for hours waiting to get on the “It’s a Small World” ride in the Magic Kingdom. We might have exchanged pleasantries at school events or shared hellos as we passed each other while walking our dogs.

I worry about my kids when they are struggling, even though they are all technically adults. I love them unconditionally and will always do whatever I can to help them- whether it means giving them a hand or a swift kick in the butt. I want them to have happy, productive lives and be kind, caring people.

We could be anybody. We ARE anybody.

So, the next time you see us and maybe your knee jerk reaction is to look the other way as we pass, I’m asking you to please keep an open mind and remember we are still the same people we were before you heard that one word. We are just like you.

sep 001shoes3

Transgender– when a person’s gender identity or gender expression differs from their assigned sex or what is considered normal for male or female genders.

This post is in response to The Daily Post Discover Challenge- Open-Minded.

 

 

So What?

So What?

As Kris’s hair grows longer and his gender expression becomes more feminine, people are asking “the” questions. (And if they aren’t asking in words, their expressions are.)

Did Kris change his mind?

Is he going back to being a girl?

Is he no longer transgender? 

What’s going on?

Okay, so, maybe they are asking many questions.

In answer to those questions:

No

No

No. If you aren’t sure, think double negatives here- No, he is not no longer transgender…. (Did I confuse you?)

I don’t know.

Thanks for stopping by! -Kat

…………

Just kidding. But in all seriousness, those are my answers. Except for the last one.

What’s going on? Kris remains a work in progress. When you spend your life living a certain way- in Kris’s case, living a girl’s life when you don’t necessarily feel like a girl, that is the only life you know. When Kris came out to us as transgender at 18, he only knew how to be a girl. Although we did not force him into a girl mold, society generally does a good job of that all on its own.

After transitioning and living his life as a guy, he knew that it wasn’t a good fit either. He was letting society dictate how he lived- even in the transgender community. If he was a trans guy, he felt that he had to stay on testosterone and wear a binder and look like a guy.

But he didn’t like wearing a binder most of the time and he didn’t want to take T and his feelings about top surgery were unclear. And he did not feel like a guy.

And that is how he got to this place in his journey.

He is non-binary, not really identifying as male or female but something different. It is a difficult concept for people to wrap their heads around. It was definitely easier (easier being used in the broadest sense) for people to accept him as a guy. Most don’t understand what it means to be non-binary, especially because it isn’t as simple as boy or girl. Many hold the belief that everyone is one or the other.There is no other option…. but there is. And Kris is living proof. Even if it’s hard to understand.

But that’s not the point at all. It’s all about acceptance. I was reminded of this when I was having a conversation with a friend, just trying to process it all. After sharing some of the questions I have gotten from people, my friend nodded his head thoughtfully and said, “And let’s just say that Kris decides to go back to using Kerri or feminine pronouns or both. So what? Does it change how you feel about him? Does it hurt anyone at all if Kris is Kris or Kerri or someone else?”

And the truth is it just doesn’t matter who Kris is as long as he is happy and healthy and ALIVE.