I´ve been on an emotional rollercoaster for the last several months, consulting with some specialists and learning a lot about gender diversity. Dr. Stewart was a very centered guy and not the horrible monster pushing surgery on my kid, as I used to believe. That is probably what freaked me out the most and made me want to run away, and a monster like that was what I needed to remain righteous, wanting to believe with every bone in my body that this path was not true for my child.
After meeting with Dr. Stewart, I got second opinions from other specialists, and everyone said pretty much the same things. Finally, because I felt more rapport with Dr. Stewart, I went back to him. It was reassuring to learn that it´s not about sending my kid onto a dangerous trajectory, but just creating a safe space in which to express his… sorry, their feelings without being rejected.
“We don´t know yet how things will show up for your kid, and nothing is written in stone, but their feelings are real, this is not so called social contagion,” the doctor said, “and there´s nothing irreversible to do at the moment. If it’s something that´s required, believe me, that´s down the road!” My kid (I´m making a big effort not to call them by their name) assured me that they don´t even know what it will be for them. “Mom, I´m taking a few baby steps to experience who I am; I don’t even know how it’s gonna be.” My kid has always been mature and hearing that was really reassuring for my battered soul.
I noticed something else, my kid looks happier and more relaxed, not doing crazy things or overdoing it but just wearing some girly clothes and letting their hair grow, which doesn´t hurt anyone and seems to make them really happy. Dr. Stewart is doing a great job by just providing my kid with a safe space for discussing things and giving some pointers here and there. However…
…I won´t lie, I´m still crying all the time. Yes, information, instead of misinformation, made a huge difference. I cannot explain in words how much crap you can find out there and how society has it all wrong about these gender things–as if the color of your clothes or length of your hair would make you a certain gender, or the complexity of a human psyche could be reduced to what you have between your legs! I wouldn´t choose this journey for my kid because their life could be very difficult, but I´m not stupid, and I can distinguish the FACTS from bigotry!
But why do I keep crying?
I feel that I could lose the version of my kid that I´m familiar with and that I love, and I can’t wrap my mind around the idea of how much adversity my kid could face in the world. It´s not transphobia, it´s common sense. Society needs to evolve its understanding of gender. Most people just shut down when confronted with facts that go against their beliefs, so facts aren’t enough if people won’t listen! I´ve seen horrible things happening to trans people, and although I now validate my kid´s feelings, I still wish with all my heart that they´re weren’t trans.
How does someone deal with this on their own? Having the right information is great, but digesting it all made it all become too real for me. Letting go of my denial has been healing, I can see that now, but the process made things real for me, and that had been too much to handle. I know I need help if I want to be there for my kid in the best way possible. What´s gonna happen when they face rejection and come back to me, their safe space, and they find that I´m a mess, incapable of offering my help? Do you see my predicament?
Things have definitively changed. My mom finally understands that I´m smart and that my feelings are real. She took me to Dr. Stewart and he´s great! Now I understand that I´m allowed to do some experiments as a part of my social transition, to understand what fits me best. Things are very different when you see the world the way girls see it. The doctor said that nothing is written in stone, that all these ideas about manly or womanly behaviors, they’re just social conventions with no solid reasons.
“How so?” I asked.
“Well, they teach you, for example, that certain sports are only for men, but that´s not true; any woman can play those sports too. You see? It was a big scandal when women started wearing pants, or men started wearing their hair long, but now it´s commonly accepted and not questioned; nothing really changes.” I didn’t know that and it really helped!
My mom understands it´s important not to call me by the name I hate, and we agreed that “they/them” could be good pronouns for now. With my closest friends it´s different, I feel more like using “she/her,” and they have no problem with that; it´s not an issue, and they see basically the same person: Captain.
I never felt that wearing a skirt made me a different gender, and I agree with the doctor, but oh my gosh do I look pretty! I wore one of Kate´s skirts at her house in a small gathering and it was like the complete opposite feeling than how I usually feel about my gender, which the doctors call gender dysphoria. All I know is it hurts when I´m forced to wear a tie for some formal school events. Kate explained this new experience, “It´s gender euphoria, girl!”
“I´ll show you a secret,” Kate said. “Come here and sit still, I wanna show you a little makeup trick. You don’t have to do anything drastic; with makeup, less is more. I´ll just apply some base, a light bronzer and some powder to your eyebrows; that´s it. I want you to feel it and tell me what you think”.
I have to tell you: eyebrows frame your face, there´s nothing more important than eyebrows, and I couldn´t believe the change! I had tears in my eyes when I looked at me in the mirror. Where was this magic my whole life? I felt more confident and happier, and I can only say that this feels right!
“Sorry, I´m ruining your work of art with my tears,” I told Kate.
“Oh, no worries, sis, it can be remade. Even better, YOU are gonna do it this time.”
I wasn´t as skilled as Kate, but I´m getting there. I feel excited when I just do my eyebrows and go out like this, maybe wearing a wristband more on the girly side, or a girly shirt. I still don´t feel comfortable wearing a skirt outside. Baby steps, no rush. I´m happy with my progress. But, there are two things bothering me these days…
Summer holidays gave me a safe space to make these changes with my closest friends, but now I´m going back to school, and people there won´t be that accepting, I´m not stupid, I know how hard it could get. Queer kids are constantly bullied, and teachers don’t seem to do enough. My mom said if teachers support me, other kids are more likely to accept me, so the important thing is that adults are on board. I hope Dr. Stewart can tell me how to come out to my teachers, or maybe my mom has to do it. I’m scared.
The second thing that bothers me is that I see my mom suffering because of me. She really changed when she understood what I was going through, but as she said, “this gender thing” became real, and I could tell she was totally overwhelmed by it. Dr. Stewart explained that she can’t do it alone and that it´s important to network with other parents and find educational support groups for healing and support from other families going through the same process. The doctor recommended one for my mom, and I hope that she can find what she needs because she´s the best mom in the world and finally, I feel that we´re a team!
Go to Part 4…