Family

Hi,

I have held off writing this post because it concerns someone I love dearly: my son.

To those of you who’ve been following this blog over the years, you may recall me writing about Wee Man and Little Miss. You may also have noticed I still refer to Wee Man, while our youngest is now Child 2.0. No doubt some of you know where I’m going with this.

I feel torn writing this. On the one hand, my family life is fairly private here. On the other, as a parent, I am… so very weary at the lies, misinformation, and hatred directed at my child. My son was assigned female at birth and now they are my son. He is still the same child, only with a different name, haircut, clothes, and is much happier as they are now. He is kind, artistic, and very cool.

History

There was no ‘rapid onset’ nonsense – that’s been debunked and does not match our lived experience either. Child 2.0 had been open with both myself and my wife about their thoughts on their own sexuality and gender. That started about four years ago and has taken a meandering path – like all good research and education – as they have considered who they are.

A little more than a year ago, they came out that they felt they were trans and wanted to change their name while at home. We supported them in this because that’s what a parent does: they love and accept their child. I will be honest and say I struggled with the new name because of habit. Now, I rarely think of their old name, but it took a while and they were good about the mistakes I made.

I spoke to a few other parents of trans children to hear how they’d approached things. Hearing what they had to say was helpful: not just in terms of things to do (and not do), but also knowing we were not alone in this. All that and learning that a good sports bra is a safer alternative to a binder for younger teens.

A period after being out at home, and after they had come out to close friends, Child 2.0 asked us what they could do about school. We spoke to their school and it went very well. There were safety checks, yes, but nothing improper. The level of support and acceptance has been amazing. Child 2.0’s friend group have been completely accepting of him. The school had been here before and had mature processes to field questions and concerns.

Just recently we’ve told Granny J and she said she wasn’t surprised. She also said she would struggle with the new name. Not because she didn’t respect Child 2.0’s decision, but at nearly eighty, things can be a struggle to remember.

Far from the tree

I am not out to either child and the encouragement I have given both children is to try their best, be kind to others, and that who you are, is okay.

I am genderfluid, yes; under the Trans Umbrella, also yes; but, I hoped neither of my children would have to go through the distress I did, in coming to terms about who I was.

I guess like a lot of parents, I didn’t want my children to struggle in life.

Why now?

I feel that in the toxic climate of hate, stories that do not match our family’s experiences, nor those of those families with trans teens, are being peddled as truth. If such worrisome tales are true – and frankly I doubt it – they do not match the lived reality we’ve had, what others have shared with us, nor what comes in to the Chameleons’ inbox. The latter may go into my head, but every query is confidential.

The waiting list for child mental health services is far too long. The staff try their very best: there’s just not enough of them. Funny how years of Austerity and cuts have pushed the service to struggle to cope with demand. Child 2.0’s anxiety issues are unrelated to them being trans (according to the experts). Indeed it’s one part of his life that’s doesn’t cause them issues.

We asked about gender specialists because Child 2.0 wanted to know about them. What might that do, how long might they wait, etc. This was very much from a therapy point of view. Not treatment, not surgery, and certainly not the suggestion from tabloids, that they’d be on hormone treatment in weeks. In fact, the queue is so long, if they had signed up, I think Child 2.0 may well have finished school before seeing anyone. Again, underinvestment.

Now, we have the -ahem- unacceptable behaviour of the current administration. The continued vilification of vulnerable people. Teens and adults are targeted by the uninformed and bigots who paint trans people as predators. Apparently trans people are not worthy of protection over Conversion Therapy. Funny how the medical establishment and human rights organisations disagree. “But haven’t we heard enough from experts…

If you hold those views, I want you to look into the eyes of a fourteen year old boy and tell them that it’s okay for others to abuse people like him. Tell him it’s okay for a newspaper or a politician to tell him he’s a risk, makes people uncomfortable, a perv, a predator, he’s damaged, he’s wrong, etc.

When you’ve done that, if you can do that, to a child, have a word with yourself. Ask who benefits from this fake war and who is next on their list?

12 Comments

  1. You know, I was going to email rather than add another comment on your use of “social transition” in your reply to my comment last week. I wasn’t certain about how you were using the term as you hadn’t mentioned this development before, but now you have, amply.

    It goes without saying that I wish your child all the most robust and loving support available, and I am pretty sure that society will largely give it. The bigots are always the same chattering classes, pushy bullies and people who want influence, not the everyday people he will meet.

    It’s tempting to say this trans trait runs in the family, but actually I think everyone is a bit trans so if everyone really felt that they had the freedom to find their own way in gender and sexuality, the cis straights would be a tiny minority. But I’d still fight for their rights to be cis and straight, not point them out as weird!

    Thank you for having the courage to share. I know you will be proud of your son who will have fantastic support.

    Sue x

    1. I think, that the term transitioning is shifting a little. No pun intended. Language is updating to match how people are living. Like with our boy, where possible, some trans folk are choosing to live in their new gender. Some may need help along the way, some may not. It seems things are blurring and I think that is challenging some people. I think it’s okay to be uneasy, but it’s not okay to use that to oppress others.

      I am hoping – sh**, I nearly put his name here – Child 2.0’s teenage years go as well as they can. He’s had a few knocks along the way. He’s a good kid, bless him.

  2. A powerful post. I have nothing to add but my solidarity and support. Nothing to lose but our chains. All power to you as parents, to your children as developing future stewards of society! ✊

    1. It was a post I thought I should not write. That I wouldn’t need to write. Child 2.0’s story is his…. and yet, I feel, as a parent, there’s our experiences too. His story and perhaps ours too, needs to be told. There’s a growing number of kids and parents who are running with this. We’re just trying to find what works and we may need a little help.

  3. Parenthood is a wonderful and powerful force. You show that so well. And your children are also seeing the love and support you are showing to them. Unconditional love is the gold standard for family growth.
    As for how they find the rest of the world, some will reject, and as a parent that scares us to think about.
    But only some.
    Many will impress you with their open acceptance.
    At the moment your focus is rightly on their gender, but over time, that will appear as just a small part of this wonderful, thriving person you will see growing before you.
    I wish your family well.
    And thank you for trusting us with your story.
    Geraldine

    1. Thanks Geraldine. The gender situation, it is an aspect of who Child 2.0 is. It’s an important aspect, but he’s so much more than that. I feel he’s still finding his way, but is in a better place than where he was. As you say, if you have your family accept you, that’s a lot. That’s the story I hear from people at Chams and who write in, bless them.

  4. In a better, fairer and more tolerant world, you should not have needed to write this post.
    But..
    It appears we live in a world where the government and some organisations are far out out of step on this issue with the growing acceptance and indeed support of actual people – and especially the younger generation. It’s a very schizophrenic place to be in at the moment and my heart goes out to your son and of course Mrs J and yourself for finding yourselves on the sharp end of this.
    You have each other’s love, support and trust, and of the people close to you. That should count for a lot, at least until we can throw this current government out and replace it with one where the phrase ‘hostile environment’ is not something to brag about.

    1. Hostile Environment – what a horrible phrase and policy that is.

      Perhaps in our little middle class rural bubble, we’re fairly safe from the worst of what some trans folk report. But, it’s there in the aspects of the media and in politics – a constant drip of poison that’s difficult to escape.

      However, I would like to say since this fiasco started, some newspapers – The Guardian, for example – have at least dialled back their on-and-off critical articles.

  5. very very well for for talking about this .peoples views/judgements are very SNOTTY NOSED .i, am disabled get a lot of this .YOU ARE THE PARENT .it takes a great deal for children too TRUST/TALK .I am a Parent .SO VERY WELL DONE TOO YOUR CHILDREN.MARK.X

    1. Thank you, Mark. Sorry to hear get similar trouble. Most people are pretty cool and polite. It’s the oh too vocal minority who cause the trouble.

  6. As Joanna said a powerful post Lynn. I can relate to a lot you have written in your post having a trans son myself. I worry deeply about how my son will be treated by society and like you I don’t want him to struggle in life.

    Always here if you’d like to chat more about this subject, just drop me an email.

    Best Wishes

    Lotte x

    1. Thank you, Lotte. That’s very kind of you to offer your support. Like you, I also don’t want my son to have to struggle – perhaps that’s something many parents would agree on. I feel very strongly that Conversion Therapy must be outlawed for all if we are to achieve equality.

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