(originally posted on www.airdriepride.ca - June 2018)
To all the supportive parents of transgender and gender creative kids,
Thank you for being you. As I have engaged and become more involved in the LGBTQ2S+ community, one of the most amazing gifts I have experienced is meeting so many of you. I have boundless admiration that amongst everything else that you have to think about as a parent, you have chosen to jump in and support your children’s journey of self-discovery. You are committed to trusting them to know who they are.
My spouse and I are raising two young children, and I can appreciate how challenging being a parent can be (and we have not even entered the teen years yet!). There is a seemingly endless stream of decisions and judgements that you need to make always hoping that the direction you provide will be what is best for your child. It feels like we are continuously keeping up with the constant evolution of their personalities, their attitudes and the people they are becoming. Our children are eight and ten years old, and to date, are both comfortable in their assigned gender. Considering that, I know that I cannot honestly ever understand the experience of parenting a gender creative or transgender child. Through meeting so many of you, I can only observe some of the challenges you are up against.
I recognize that, unfortunately, we live in a world that is seemingly full of parenting ‘experts,’ many of whom, I am sure, feel it their duty to share with you “what they would do.” I am guessing that our society often challenges you with assertions such as “they are too young to understand their gender,” “what if they change their mind,” and barbed ‘supportive’ statements such as “I don’t know how you are handling this.” In so many instances, these comments and suggestions are coming from friends and family trying to ‘help’ and ‘protect’ your child from making what they incorrectly believe is a mistake. I imagine that in most cases, this ‘support’ only works to subtly (or not so subtly) reinforce the uncertain aspects of your child’s future that you are already constantly worrying about. Will they be rejected? Will they be bullied? The list goes on.
In all of this challenge, I deeply admire how protective you are and that you stand strongly motivated to provide a safe and uninhibited path for your child to figure out their authentic self. You do this while parenting every other aspect of their life, managing all of life’s other demands and navigating your own journey towards what may be a new reality for your family. Through all of this, you remain steadfast and committed to trusting that your child knows where they are going.
It is obvious that none of us can tell the future, but I do believe firmly that we all have the opportunity to gain insights from those that have lived some of theirs. So, as a transgender woman who was once one of these kids, and with the benefit of hindsight, here is why I think you are astounding and why you will always have my support.
I believe that there is no greater gift for your child than the trust, love and security you are giving them as they figure themselves out. I would propose, that regardless of whether or not they know it now, your constant assurance provides an enormous comfort. For them to trust that regardless of how many ups and downs there are, how many names they might try, how many versions of self-expression they may experiment with, or who they decide to love that you will be there, is a beautiful gift. To be confident that no matter where their feet touch down on the other side of their self-discovery, they will find you with them, is something I am certain they will look back on as adults and be grateful to have had.
I would suspect that with your early and constant support you will help them feel less, or maybe no shame at all. I would guess that your children will wonder less often, or hopefully not at all, what is wrong with them. I would imagine that there will be fewer tears along the way in exchange for a few extra smiles. I feel confident that because of your strength and unwavering support, they will be able to find the courage to grow up to be the fantastic humans they are meant to be. Perhaps most importantly, I have infinite faith that it is your kids that are going to change the conversation and make this path much more comfortable for all those that follow in their world.
In the days leading up to my transition, a good friend of my Mom’s shared this hope with her.
“It’s easy for me to say, but be at peace, my friend. Your child is a good person, whose full goodness has only just begun to show itself. Yes, there will be difficult times ahead, but there’s so much richness of life ahead for all of you.”
– Shelley Ruecker
I feel these words beautifully acknowledge that this road may not be easy, but on the other side of any challenges you may face, there is a beautiful version of your child waiting. I am so grateful that all of you are protecting and nurturing them as they get there.
For all the parents and families I have met, and all those that I have yet to meet, thank you for being who you are and trusting your kids on their adventure. You will always have my unlimited support through wherever your family’s journey takes you.
With utmost respect and admiration,
~Kiersten Mohr (she/her)