Friday, December 9, 2011

Getting to know your new son or daughter

Remember when your child was first born?  You didn't know him or her.  Your child was a complete stranger to you, yet you loved your child, desperately, in fact.  You may have had future expectations of your child, but those expectations were limited and came from your heart.  You wanted your child to feel loved, to be healthy, to grow, to be happy.

It's only as our children grow up that we start to impose more expectations on them, and usually those expectations have to do with what WE want to be happy.  Sometimes the expectations become less about our kid and more about us.  It's an easy trap to fall into.

Maybe you feel like you don't know your kid at all right now.  After all, for so many years your son has been....your son.  How can he now be your daughter?  You don't know anything about this person as a girl, you don't know her as a girl at all.  But remember, you didn't need to know anything at all about your child to love your child when she was born and that has not changed.  You love your child because she is yours to love.  You will step in front of a truck for your child because he is yours to protect.

This whole gender identity thing can be so confusing to those of us whose minds and bodies agree.  We can't understand it anymore than we understood anything about our child when he/she was first born, and yet we found a way to love that stranger-child anyway.  That is all you have to do right now.

When your brand new infant kept you up all night and would cry constantly and you didn't know what to do to help, you kept trying, even if your heart wasn't in it.  The last thing in the world you felt like doing at two in the morning was changing a diaper and pacing the floor for two hours but you did it, even if you felt like walking out of the door and never coming back.  And why did you do it?  Because not only did you love your child, but you made a commitment to care for your child.  When you felt like you just couldn't give anymore, you went through the motions anyway.  And the love grew.  The commitment grew.

You will get to know this "new" child too.  It will be a process similar to the one you employed when you first laid eyes on your kid, but in some ways a little easier, in others, a little more difficult.  It will be easier because in so many ways, you already know this person.  The core of the person is the same-your child will likely still be passionate about whatever made her passionate before.  He may not enjoy all of the same activities as he used to, but just because you don't like golf anymore, it doesn't mean you've changed as a person, right?

Trust in your love for your kid.  Keep saying the words, "I want to try" even if you are not sure you mean it.  Love really does conquer all.  It doesn't always make life easier, but it makes life possible.  It doesn't always make relationships easier, but it makes relationships possible.

When you feel like you can't give anymore, just keep going through the motions.  The love will grow, as will the acceptance.

For parents whose kids have just come out

Dear Parents,

Your kid has just dropped a bombshell that you never saw coming.  Maybe you feel physically sick, like someone is playing a sick joke on you, or perhaps you are completely at a loss for words because so many thoughts and feelings, many of them foreign and uncomfortable, are running through your head.

You are not the only parent to go through this and you are not alone.  Before you do another thing, remind yourself:  This is my child.  This person is the same person that I brought home from the hospital and nurtured all these years.  I love my child and I will not abandon my child.

Look at your child and remind yourself again:  I love my kid and I will not leave my kid.

The thought that saved me was, "At least we get to keep our kid.  Some people lose their kids, but our kid will continue to come home to us." While that thought alone did not make the process of acceptance any easier, it did serve to remind me that my not accepting could cause my kid to never be a part of my life again; and worse, could cause my kid to not want to be part of life at all.

The first few days, you will not be able to stop calling your new daughter "he" or your new son "she."  In fact, you will still consider your child to be the same gender that you always knew him or her to be.  You can, however, promise your kid that you will try to see him or her as he/she sees him or herself.  Do that now-find your kid and promise your kid that you will try.  If you can, tell your kid you love him/her too.  In all likelihood, that will be enough to start.  Perhaps, don't call your child by any name at all, but rather by a term of endearment like "Sweetie" until you can do better.  These small things will make the change more manageable for you and will let your child know that even if it's hard, you still love your child enough to make an effort.

Now what?  Reach out to others so that you can help yourself.  For some reason, this can be a painful process because it means letting go of something, or someone.  If you want to help your kid, you must help yourself first.  In an airplane, they tell you to  put the oxygen on yourself before you put it on your kid.  There is a reason for this:  if you are not well, you can't help your kid stay well.

You are not alone.  Explore this blog, and visit the links.  E-mail me for moral support.  We're here for each other so that we can support our kids.  I am at

Quoting Clint Eastwood

Dear Devoted Blog-followers, mine,

I had a lovely comment from a reader, who I will call "muscle spasm" as it loosely relates to her e-mail address.  Muscle spasm offered help in getting the word out to help other transgender, gay, or "other" groups, which I greatly appreciate.  I wrote to her hoping to hear more about her: her life, her experiences, whether she's a teen or an adult.  I've put this request out one other time in my blog and so far, I have no takers.

Perhaps my request was too general.  I will put forth a specific request and my e-mail address so that any information  you choose to share will not show up in the comments section of the blog and perhaps we can further guarantee your anonymity, if that is what has kept you from sharing your stories thus far.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I feel when I think about the possibility of linking up with people all over the country, or even the world, to talk about this issue.  DJ has opened a whole new world for us and I feel like we (Bulldog is totally behind me on this) might have a unique opportunity to share and spread the word.  So, from time to time, I will be posting, for lack of a better word, a questionnaire, or topic.  I sincerely hope you will respond.  If you are hesitant I ask you to consider this:

This could be an opportunity to help yourself and others like you by sharing small details of your life.  You could be that tiny pebble that gets dropped into the water that sends ring after ring of knowledge, support, and truth out to the LGBT world, and possibly even the world in general.  Who knows, maybe we can be a grass roots effort that will help change our corner of the world.

So here is this month's specific question:

If you could come up with a list of Dos and Don'ts for other people you work with, or go to school with, what would they include?

For example, "Do use the correct pronoun and Don't apologize more than once if you forget."

If all you can come up with is just a "do" or only a "don't", that's fine too.  If you want to be credited with your "Do or Don't" come up with a code name for yourself and if I include "names" you will possibly see yourself in a future blog.

My e-mail is

I will not share your e-mail addresses with anyone.  Please respond.  "Go ahead, make my day."