Chapter 7: Pronouns, Dude!

So, I’m trying to be a good mom and trying to use more masculine terms for Mel. For awhile that led to me using Dude a lot, so much that I accidentally was calling hubby Dude. Oops. Yeah, he wasn’t digging it. Lol

I’m still struggling with pronouns. I get frustrated with myself sometimes. I try to be neutral and use they or just Mel when talking to others. At home, it’s more laid back still and honestly we’re still using she most of the time. Why is it such a big deal for me? 13 years of habit? Because it’s not “official”? Because they’re still young? Because hubby isn’t trying?

Mel hasn’t really asked us to change pronouns at home, just the shortened name, so that’s part of it.

I don’t have any trouble with other trans people and their pronouns. Easy peasy. That’s why I get so frustrated. Why can’t it be so simple with my own child?

I think I’ll get there, but with hubby not ready or willing right now, it makes it harder. 😕

Chapter 6: Finding Mama Dragons

So, now what? Our youngest child had told us that she was transgender. (Ftm or female to male, “born female”, but identifies as male)

Some days it was no big deal, other days I was in tears and an emotional wreck. Some days I felt physically exhausted. This was new territory. It was so different with it being our child, our baby girl.

Why was it so easy with her being “gay” (pansexual)? Why was this different?

Hubby and and I were struggling. We were at a loss. We told a few family members and a therapist. No one really had much advice.

Shortly after our lovely incident with Mel’s psychiatrist (see chapter 5), I started searching. I wasn’t sure what I was searching for. Some sort of sign, guidance, advice. Even though we were inactive and didn’t agree with everything in the church, it was still a part of us. We still had values. I searched something like “LDS LGBT” on FB. It came up with an old post a friend had shared, it was a Mama Dragons video. I bawled! There was a whole community of Mormon moms with LGBT kids and they were supportive and accepting of their kids. It was beautiful and just what I needed to find.

I looked up Mama Dragons on FB. There was a page and a group. 😍 I joined the group, read a few posts, and eventually introduced myself. I was welcomed and shown love and support! It was overwhelmingly beautiful. My prayers (unspoken & spoken) were answered. I soon had a perspective shift as I read more stories of families like ours. It was almost a physical shift, I felt it deep inside. There was a lot of crying that week, and a lot of growth. I had found my tribe and I didn’t  even know how bad I needed to find them until I did.

I was soon introduced to other groups. It was amazing!!! We’re all in different stages in our journey and faith, some have even left the faith or were never LDS, but the common ground is love and support!

I didn’t know where to begin or how to fill my husband in, but I needed to bring him up to my level. I didn’t want to get too far ahead and have a huge gap between us. Remember, we were both struggling, only now I wasn’t. I was ok with it all. Even at peace.

One night, I did my best to fill him in, through tears.  I knew he wouldn’t understand 100% or be at the same level of acceptance as I was right away. I did get him to be ok with getting Melanie a chest binder. A few days later we had another chat and I told him we needed to let her know where we were with all this.

We were getting ready to go to Supercross as a family and I had a thought. I had something that could possibly act as somewhat of a binder. I talked to hubby and we called Melanie into our bedroom. I thought how cool would it be for her to go to Supercross feeling a little more masculine? I had already told her about the Mama Dragons and that I was doing better with things. Now it was hubby’s turn.

He didn’t say what I expected him to say. He didn’t seem to be quite at the level I thought he was at. He told her that he loved her and that she would always be his little girl, that he could never call her his son or he. However, he said he accepted her and would protect her and stick up for her. He said if anyone in the family didn’t accept her, that she didn’t have to be around them until they did. It was progress! We told her she could get a binder. What I had didn’t quite work out, but our child was happy! Such a small thing, but it was a huge step. There were tears and hugs as we talked. It felt so good. I don’t think I felt like we were losing her anymore. In fact my thinking was- I would much rather have her as a son, than lose a daughter to suicide or have her withdraw or cut us out of her life because we didn’t support her.

Everything changed that week for the better. I’m so grateful to have found the groups and resources when I did, when I needed them the most. I can’t wait to update you on what life is like for us now.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5: Not that kind of binder, Mom

* I will remind you to please keep an open mind as you read my blog and try not to judge. There may be more to the story you don’t know and this is only one chapter of the story. We are months past this chapter now.  I’m just trying to tell the story in its entirety, feelings and all at the time it happened. It’s not always easy to be raw and real. Sadly, I think we’ll be judged either way. Some will judge is for not being more accepting, others will judge us for being too accepting.*

I guess I kind of knew something in the back of my mind. I guess the hints and clues were starting to sink in. I remember talking about someone on FB & IG who does videos and was trans, but didn’t feel like they could be their authentic self. We could talk about these things, I was fairly open about these things, one of our favorite shows was the Fosters which dealt with all kinds of LGBT issues. I watched I am Cait.

I thought I was a pretty accepting ally. (Plus, we accepted her with open arms, no problem when we found out she was gay/lesbian/pansexual)

One day the kids and I were going somewhere together. My 17 year old was driving and I was sitting in back with my youngest. (I need to give her a name, so I don’t keep referring to her as my daughter or my child or my youngest. Let’s call her Melanie, one of her favorite singers)

We’re chatting and Melanie brings up the person I was talking about earlier who does the videos and is trans. She says, I’m like that. I feel like I’m a boy. Oh, okay. I was pretty calm and I guess it wasn’t really a huge surprise. I felt I reacted very well. I didn’t make a big deal about it. I may have said a few things, providing some possible insight of why she might feel that way.

I believe my husband also knew about the hints, but I told him she had actually said it. We didn’t fully get it though. We didn’t really see it. We saw her dressing like a guy, but we didn’t think she “acted” like a guy. We figured maybe she was just a Tomboy or “Butch” since she did like girls. Deep down we struggled with it. We felt like we were losing our baby girl in so many ways. It was so different when we were talking about our child.

Again I thought, is this a trend, is it a phase? Is it because her friends are LGBT? She even had a trans friend. Was she just trying to for in? Was it because of the music she listened to, the videos she watched? They were all huge LGBT supporters and always talking about the community.

We tried to be kind and loving, but we questioned things. Had she been sexually abused?  Was it because she didn’t have a good relationship with her dad? Was she just confused? Why were labels so important? Why trans, why not just a Tomboy? What do we do about sleepovers now that she likes girls and feels like she’s a boy?

One night I get a text from Melanie:

So, I had her come into the living room and talk to her dad and I about it. We didn’t feel like it was a good idea. We didn’t think she should do anything permanent at such a young age (13). She wasn’t happy and stomped off. 😞

We continued to struggle and I didn’t know where to turn. There was a lot of contention. At least hubby and I were on the same page.

Melanie had been to her psychiatrist once and I had mixed feelings about him. The first time she met him was right after she had told us she felt like a boy. He was wearing a Trans Lives Matters t-shirt underneath his button up shirt. It was great that he was supportive (for her sake), but what about us, the parents?

The next appointment with him, I told my husband to meet us. Another therapist made us feel like it would be better if dad was more involved, that it could indeed help if there was a better father/daughter relationship.

We were totally thrown under the bus at that appointment. Dad was put on the spot and asked how he would feel if Melanie told him she was a boy. Hubby said he would feel like he was losing his baby girl, I agreed. The psychiatrist brought up the binder. We said we didn’t feel like it was a good idea, that we didn’t even know if it was safe. He thought it was a good idea and to even told us where to get hormones. We left upset. We felt like who were the parents, him or us? Why would he say all that in front of her and put us on the spot like that? Didn’t he hear what we said? Didn’t he know that we were struggling with this? The only thing I did agree with was that Melanie was cute either way, a beautiful girl or a handsome guy.

Looking back, I feel like I was being prepared for this. As I mentioned earlier, I watched I am Cait and the Fosters and felt nothing but love. I remember seeing previews for another reality show about a transgender child and thinking how hard that must be, but again feeling love. I’m pretty sure I even thought anytime I heard a story like that, that I would love my child the same. It was harder and different with my own child at first though. I guess I just didn’t see the signs. I didn’t feel prepared at the time. I didn’t have the right tools, the right non existent manual.

*This chapter was really hard to write and probably hard for some to read. I only include it to tell the whole story and to let others know they aren’t alone if they feel/felt the same way. Keep reading, it gets better.

Chapter 4: 7th grade

School started back up and our daughter was starting 7th grade/middle school. She was excited to go at first. After awhile, it was harder to get her up and on the bus in time. Sometimes it was just a struggle, just hard to even wake her up. (She would be REALLY ORNERY or just have a really hard time waking up) Other times, she wasn’t feeling well. Sometimes I worried that she had severe anxiety that was making her physically sick. Other times, she had a migraine or a cold, something I could pinpoint.

School was a struggle in general. Grades were slipping.

We got an appointment with a wonderful psychologist and had some testing done. She was ADHD (almost off the charts, no doubt about it) and bipolar. We had to treat the bipolar first.  She started seeing a psychiatrist and started meds.

I still felt like there was some sneaking around. Not so much physically, but online. It was like I still didn’t know my child, like they had this other life online. I would see her post things every now and then that hinted that she was a boy. I didn’t get it. (Even though she had the boyish haircut and had been wearing “guy clothes” for about a year)

Chapter 3: Getting into trouble

So, now we knew she was gay/lesbian.  No biggie and we told her that. But, there was still something else going on. I still worried about her in general.

* I will remind you to please keep an open mind as you read my blog and try not to judge. There may be more to the story you don’t know and this is only one chapter of the story. We are one year past this chapter now.  I’m just trying to tell the story in its entirety, feelings and all at the time it happened. It’s not always easy to be raw and real. *

We were prepared to stick up for her and back her up if necessary. We knew that other parents weren’t as supportive, especially in the church. A friend of hers came out to her parents about a year later. They were not supportive and she had to meet with her bishop often and was basically told to “pray away the gay”. The few people I told about our child, I let them know that that would not be our approach. ( I later found out that this friend was banned from seeing my child because she’a gay and because her parents thought she was a bad influence. It broke my heart. They “like” each other now, but will probably never be together)

We were advised (by a therapist) to check her phone, that she should be turning it in every night and not have access to it all night long. (Good advice for all kids, not because we thought she was a bad kid) All parents should know what’s on their children’s phones and if they have a smart phone, access should be limited (time and content).

What we found was a little much for a 12 year old. I felt like I didn’t know her, like she had this secret life. I was concerned with a few pictures and things she was looking up. Yes, I’m being a bit vague, I won’t go into details. It wasn’t the absolute worst you could think of, but there were things that weren’t age appropriate. There seemed to be a lot of attitude/anger in her pictures. Then there was the video of her and her friends antagonizing and basically bullying a boy. That was pretty disappointing. She said that some of the inappropriate content on her phone was her friends’. We also learned that her friend wasn’t allowed to use certain apps and she had been using them on our daughter’s phone.

We didn’t feel like we could trust her. She felt like she was sneaking around  and not making very good choices. She was grounded most of the summer. (For her phone and behavior)

Somewhere I learned she was pansexual. I had never heard of it. I had to Google it. I still didn’t really understand it. Honestly, I started thinking, “Is this all a trend, is it a fad, are her friends a bad influence? I found it a little odd that all her friends were either gay, bi or pansexual. Later we found out she also had a trans friend. I also thought “She’s so young!” She was 12 at the time. We thought maybe she was just following the crowd. (And this was all so new to me and my husband)

She started seeing a therapist that I thought was a really good fit for her. She seemed “cool” and specifically dealt with LGBT kids. (We didn’t want to change her, just help her, she also struggled with anxiety/depression).

She only saw her once and then the therapist left the office. I found out my daughter didn’t care for her anyway.

Not much changed, I felt like I was losing her. I tried to understand, I tried to show her that I loved her. I didn’t feel like she loved me. I tried to be as open and understanding as possible. We used to be so close and now she just wanted to be with her friends. I just wanted her to make good choices. I didn’t want to lose her to the world if that makes sense.

I just wanted her to be a 12 year old. 😭💔

Chapter 2: How it all began; the phone call

I started worrying about our youngest daughter when she was about 11. I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, I just worried. I could tell she was struggling, but I wasn’t sure with what or how to help her. She seemed to have ADHD and possibly some form of Autism like her brother. We had tried meds for ADHD and they didn’t work. The patch made her break out in hives and the pills made her more hyperactive. So we went without for awhile.

She struggled with school, she struggled to get up in the morning to get to school.

One day near the end of 6th grade, I received an email from her teacher. She wanted to discuss a few concerns. It was urgent and she couldn’t email me about it, we needed to talk on the phone. Next thing I knew, it had escalated and the principal (or vice) needed to be involved with the phone call.

I don’t remember the whole conversation.  There were 3 issues/concerns.

1- A drawing had been found that was suicidal in nature. It was found on our daughter’s desk. It wasn’t clear if it was someone else suggesting that she should kill herself or if she felt suicidal. Either way, not cool!

2- Another parent had called the school, concerned that our daughter might have a crush on another girl. There was also concern that our daughter was holding hands and hugging her best friend at school. (Insert sarcastic gasp) I’m sorry, bUT that didn’t concern me one bit! I honestly tried not to laugh. I didn’t get what the big deal was.

3- I honestly can’t think what the 3rd thing was. Maybe #2 was 2 parts, or maybe the teacher couldn’t even remember the 3rd thing. That sounds about right. 😕

I filled my husband in and we both agreed that we didn’t see an issue with her holding hands or hugging her best friend. 

The suicidal drawing was definitely a concern! We talked to our daughter and she said that someone else had drawn it while at her desk during rotation. It still wasn’t clear if it was aimed towards her or not. We talked about how serious it was and that if she needed help to let us know.

Then we talked about the #2 “issue”. We let her know that we didn’t see a problem with her showing affection to her best friend or other friends (as far as hugging and holding hands). I know I was hugging my friends at her age. So then I asked if she did have a crush on a girl. She shyly said yes. Who? Her best friend. Oh, okay. I had no idea! What happened next was second nature. My husband and I told her that it didn’t bother us and that we loved her no matter what. We welcomed her with open arms. We hugged and we cried. She was validated, loved and accepted. ❤

We had always considered ourselves LGBT allies, still I was so happy and proud with how easily it was for us to accept her, especially my husband.

At one point we learned that she was pansexual. I had to Google it.

 pan·sex·u·al
panˈsekSH(əw)əl/
adjective
1.
not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.
noun
1.
a pansexual person.

I still didn’t understand it 100%

We soon set up counseling for her, for anxiety and depression. We told her she could talk about other things as well if she wanted too.

 

Background story: Chapter 1 (Please read first)

Wow, I can’t believe I’m doing this, but here we are. I felt the need to document and share our story, our journey with our youngest child who is LGBT 🏳️‍🌈.

 

First a little background-

We are a fairly traditional family; mom, dad and 3 kids. I’ll let you know right now, we’re not perfect. (Gasp) We deal with things through humor, sarcasm and love. We’re pretty open and honest. We spend a lot of time together as a family, family means everything to us.

We (hubby and I) have a pretty strong Mormon background, but right now we are inactive. We’ve been through the temple, etc. it just didn’t quite feel right anymore. I still think of us as a Mormon family. There are things we believe, things we struggle with and things we just don’t agree with.

 

I will try to unfold our story one chapter at a time. (There are a few chapters to lead us to where we are now)

Please don’t judge us by a certain chapter. Our story isn’t over yet, it’s just begun. I want others to know that they are not alone, that we felt the same way, that we had the same struggles. Therefore, this will be as raw and real as possible. I don’t know all the answers, but I’m learning and growing everyday and in a much better place this past month.