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.
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.
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?