10 Things Parents of Transgender People Need To Know

Over half of my life has been spent raising children. It is the ultimate experience. Watching your baby grow, from birth, all the way to seeing your little one graduate and begin their lives as a young adult. As parents, we have many things we want to see our children succeed at in life. I have wanted nothing but the ‘best’ in life for my children, and I feel certain that most parents want the exact same thing for their own kids.

The reason I have written this article, is because one of my children has decided to change their gender and I have not found ‘anything’ that is written for the parents who literally go through a huge gambit of emotions when this happens with one of their babies. I must say that the majority of what you will read here, is from my personal experience with my daughter changing herself into a male. Some things I have learned from her, some I’ve learned through her experience to this point, and some things I’ve read online. At the end of this article, I have listed several places where you can also read about what is happening to your child. Since everything I have found is aimed at acceptance of this whole transgender idea, I decided to write something for everyone else in the family of those who are doing everything they can to become someone of the opposite sex. Believe me, I can understand your pain as you watch the person you ‘knew’ change into a completely different human being, especially after they’ve been on hormone replacement therapy for any amount of time. There may actually be some parents who are able to accept such drastic changes in their children, I’m just not one of those and neither is my husband.

How you find out about your child changing their complete ‘being’, also can be very difficult to deal with. For instance, in my case I read about my daughter starting Testosterone Shots through a Facebook post by her girlfriend. Here is what I read:

“Today was the first chapter of a beautiful story. Today, August 9th, 2015, my darling, Shane Andrew Nicholson, had his first shot of testosterone. This has been a long time coming. It fills me with so much joy to see my soul-mate so happy… I know I’m crying in this picture but it’s simply because I’m so proud. I’ve known this incredible young man for almost a year now and I’ve loved him just as long. And with one push of a needle, so ends the final chapter of the twenty-year-old, damaged diary of a very lonely girl. May the last words scrawled on the ending page read “my story isn’t over” as the second book is born. I am so, so proud of you, Shane. The pen is in your hand now, my love. And with the ink of a needle, may you write your own story as the adventure we will now face together forever. And may every page… Be happy and true. I love you, Izette. Here’s to the first day with my man… And to every one to come. — feeling blissful.”

This is not the way I would have wanted to find out such a thing about my child, but it was how things happened for me. I felt like I was reading about my daughter having a ‘private burial’ – it truly felt like she was being thrown away. Yes, my daughter was 20 when she began changing herself into a man, and I do not believe she was old enough to really make that kind of decision. I truly believe that anyone that young should need to be seen by a therapist for quite a while before actually beginning hormones of any kind. Finding out about the ‘event’ through this post, was absolutely devastating to me – as her Mama. My desire, for the parents who might read this, is that you have found out about your child/children in a much better way. As the parent of a transgender person, it is only right that you actually learn about such things happening from the child who is doing it.

1. It is NOT your fault.
It is inevitable that parents usually end up blaming themselves for most things their child does. It doesn’t matter who you are – one of the first things you are gonna say is something like this, “What did I do wrong?” It’s the first thing I thought when I found out that my beautiful baby girl was gonna turn herself into a man. It took quite a while – and a lot of direction from God – for me to realize that the way we raised our daughter didn’t have anything to do with her decision. I had to turn to Jesus Christ as my main source of strength. Only He was able to hold me together. Other people are important – being able to talk to them about what is happening – especially being able to cry in her Daddy’s arms. Seriously, I was in depression for several months and really wasn’t aware of it, I just thought I was sad. After searching for some kind of help with something natural, my pharmacist suggested Kava-Kava. It helped me immensely. I also discovered some depression drops, and I’m still using them. They have made it so that I can actually do things again, instead of just sitting and crying. Please watch yourself, be aware that depression can hit you – and hit you hard.

2. Treating your child the same.
I’m not gonna kid you. With what you have learned about your child, you are gonna be uncertain as to ‘how’ to treat them. How do you talk to them? Discussions with my daughter are not the same anymore – but I have tried very hard to not change the way I talk to her. My situation is much different than those of you who still have your child at home. Mine is 2,000 miles away, she moved to Kentucky and we live in New Mexico. Honestly, I would have to pray a lot in order to know just ‘how’ I should treat my daughter if she still lived nearby. It is a difficult task, but well worth the effort, if you can keep from changing how you treat your child no matter what is going on.

3. Denying what is happening, can be very harmful.
As I stated before – the decision your child has made is truly gonna break your heart, and could even put you into depression. I’m not speaking of just being sad. I mean literally losing interest in everything around you in your everyday life, hobbies, family, etc. I would expect depression to show up more in the Mama, but I’m sure Daddy could be just as devastated. Most importantly – you have to “face” the fact of what your child has chosen to do to themselves. Always remember it is something they have made the “choice” to do. It isn’t something they have to do. If they truly have Gender Identity Disorder, or Gender Dysphoria, then they can be seen by a psychologist or psychiatrist who can help them deal with their gender disorder – instead of catering to the problem, or just helping them completely change to the opposite sex! If your child is still a minor, that is in your favor, as well as your child’s favor.

4. Be honest with your child.
No matter what, always be honest with your child. Honest about how upset you are over them changing who they were born as. You have every right to be disturbed about what they’re doing. Without you, the parent, that person would have never even existed in the first place. You went through pregnancy, gave birth or held the Mama’s hand while she did, changed diapers for years, made sure everything was as perfect as possible for the baby, nurtured the child, had to ‘let go’ of them when they started to school, helped with homework, and the list goes on and on and on and on. Usually the list even goes on long passed the time they are actually grown up. They need to hear what you have to say, even if it does hurt them. What they are doing, is hurting you, too. Being honest with each other is extremely important.

5. Talk about the “elephant” in the room.
The situation with a child changing who they were born as can easily become an “elephant” in the room. Meaning, there is the problem and everyone knows about it, but nobody will say anything about it. In the long run, it is better if you go ahead and bring up the subject. Talking about it keeps your communication lines open, and that’s a good thing. Later on, you will see a major change in your child … after that, there will not be any ‘real’ talking about what they are doing and it’s gonna hurt you deeply, as their parent.

6. What does God say about it?
Sadly, not everyone is gonna ‘care’ what God has to say about gender. I respect your opinion if you don’t agree with me, but thank you for allowing me the chance to put some scripture to this point. God is the Creator of everything. In Genesis, we find reference to creation where God made man. Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
Genesis 2:21-24 “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
God made Adam to be a “man” … He made Eve to be a “woman”. When God allows we parents to “create” another human being, He also is in charge of the gender that child will be born with. He decides their biological sex – not us. When God created my daughter, Elizabeth Ann, He didn’t make a mistake … and will not smile on my little girl changing herself into Shane Andrew. God has a reason for making our babies gender the way He does. It’s always in God’s plan for each of us.

7. Just speaking with your child will not always be easy.
The first discussion you have with your child over what they are doing to their whole being, is not gonna be easy. You will, most likely, cry during that conversation and that’s perfectly fine. The more you show your emotions over the whole ordeal, the more your child “might” come to understand just how major a decision like they have made, honestly is. During this time, I would suggest that you continue to call your child by the name, and pronouns, that you have always used for them. I never have changed how I refer to my daughter, and she’s been on hormone replacement therapy for 1 year and 5 months. There will come a time – if they begin hormone replacement therapy – when talking becomes less and less, and more uncomfortable than ever. Take great advantage of the time when your child still ‘wants’ to have communication with you – because it will most likely come to an end, and everything will change.

8. How the opposite hormones will completely change the child you knew.
This has come to me by personal experience, and it was (and is) extremely difficult to get through. After I read about her beginning Testosterone injections, we got ‘together’ via Skype for a chat – which was something we did quite often about a year ago. I confronted her with what I had discovered online, and I did break into tears as I talked to her about it. She was mainly upset that I had learned about it online, instead of her getting to “tell” me about it herself. She told me several things about the changes that would take place with her body. How she would begin to grow hair on her face, chest, and back. Her weight and muscles were gonna shift from where they were, her voice would get deeper. Her body would quit functioning as a female, her monthly cycles would cease, and her breasts would begin to shrink. All of these changes could be reversed if she ever stopped taking the hormone – except for her voice, it would remain deep.  (Upon doing the research for this blog post, I discovered that most of the things that will be changed by Hormone Replacement Therapy will remain changed.)  These were things that had been told to her by the doctor that gave the ‘okay’ for her to pursue this change that she wanted. Our very close relationship would never change, she said. It would be alright for her family to refer to her as Elizabeth, like we always had. At one point, she told me that we would still get a grandchild from her. When I asked her how that would be possible since she was turning herself into a man, she simply said that they would have her eggs harvested and impregnated then place inside of her girlfriend. After I thought about that statement for a while, I began searching online for information about how eggs would be affected by taking Testosterone. I couldn’t find anything about that subject. This entire procedure is so ‘new’, there is nothing to check out for results. Since that time, I’ve seen that one female that did the same thing as my daughter, had her eggs harvested “before” she began the injections. As she continued her visible change into a male, she had one of her eggs implanted and gave birth. I must admit, the pictures I saw of this hairy looking male nursing a baby just about made me ill. But I must say, at least she thought ahead about being able to ‘use’ her eggs.
Not only will you see the changes physically to your child, but their personality and emotions will also change. I have watched as my little girl has become more aloof, seeming to not care about the things she did before – and that includes her relationship with Mama, Daddy, and her little nephew that we have been raising. It has seriously broken my heart because my child is no longer visible in the human being that she has turned herself into. When she began those injections, she began killing the sweet baby girl that we had known for 20 years … and as of about 6 months ago, she has pretty much buried our daughter. I can no longer find my child when we speak on the phone. I’m not sure what it will be like when we’re able to Skype again, I may have a complete breakdown. But there’s one thing I can say to other parents who are either already in the experience or headed into the changes from hormone replacement therapy – the odds that you will never recognize your original child ever again, are about 100%.

9. Dealing with the grief over the loss of your child, and they haven’t been physically buried.
It’s difficult to describe the agony that I have felt over understanding that my child is actually no longer alive, yet the ‘body’ that I gave birth to is still walking around somewhere. I can say that it’s absolutely impossible for my child to live her life being Elizabeth and Shane … it’s just not gonna work. She is gonna have to decide which person she is gonna be, because she certainly cannot be 2 people. So far, there is none of this experience that is easy or good. My prayer for my daughter is that God will take care of getting her back on the right path. That she will understand that God made her to be the lovely young lady she had become – and not a man.
Our son, her brother, was able to see her for the first time in almost 8 years just last summer. He told me on the phone the next day about their visit. The first thing he told me was, “She’s gone.” I’m guessing that the physical changes that are present now, would not be advantageous for this Mama to even see.

10. How to find peace of mind when you see no hope.
It’s almost needless to say that you are gonna feel a whole lot of different and difficult emotions throughout the process of seeing your child change ‘who’ they were born and raised as. For myself, it has been one of the most challenging things I have ever experienced … and I would not wish the ordeal on anyone. My source of peace of mind – when it seems I cannot see a shred of hope for my daughter – is to turn to God and pray about the whole situation. He can give me that calm in my heart, and that’s something I can’t find anywhere else. I get a reassurance that He is in control, after all He is the giver of this life that we live. Wherever you may be in this process with your own child, please remember that God cares about you and He cares about your child, too. My prayer, is that what I’ve written has helped you in some way to cope a little better or easier with your own experience. It is possible that I will begin trying to answer questions, or write a blog for parents of transgender people. We need just as much support as the children we gave life to – especially when something as life changing as this happens to them.
Feel free to drop me a note at susienicholson33@gmail.com with any remarks or questions that you may have, and I will do my best to answer you as soon as possible.

Resources:

http://www.revelandriot.com/resources/understanding-transgender/

http://openmindedhealth.com/transgender-101-trans-people/

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/gender-dysphoria

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&rlz=1C1CHZL_enUS723US723&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=evan+hempel

 

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