We picked out the name for Thing 2 before we were even pregnant with Thing 1. And then we fell in love with Thing 1’s name.
We did not care if we had a boy or a girl. As long as they were happy and healthy, we were going to give them the name we fell in love with.
And then we found out we were going to have a boy. He made it very apparent at all of our ultrasounds that he was a boy.
And I had many ultrasounds because I was high risk thanks to being watched for gestational diabetes. (Side note: had my doctor and I not agreed to being watched, even though I passed the 3hr test by 1 point…being watched extra carefully proved to actually save Thing 2’s life.)
When we found out we were going to have a son, we instantly started making plans for his future. He was going to play football and be the next Mariota. He was going to work on cars with daddy and play in mud to his knees. He was going to go watch car races and hang with the boys. Even though his future was going to be stereotypically masculine, we agreed that he could be whatever he wanted to be. We just wanted him to be happy.
So we provided all different types of toys and activities that crossed gender barriers. Mainly bc we already had a big sister that was a girly tomboy.
And for the first couple years, he didnt really show too much of a preference of one gendered toy over another.
But when he was 2.5yrs old, we went to a friends birthday party and they had a little girl that had princess dress up clothes. Thing 2 was instantly gravitated to one dress in particular and he put it on without a second thought.
So I of course take a photo because it was so cute. I just had to take a photo for proof to show to his future girlfriends.
He played for the rest of the party in that dress and I saw how happy he was. As time has progressed, I have been known to say that when he puts on his pretties, a sparkle can be seen in his eyes. His life lights up. It’s an indescribable feeling.
In the coming months, and years, my gut knew this was not a phase, while the rest of our family was convinced he would grow out of it. That he just loves his big sister so much. Or maybe I just coddle him so much that I let him get away with it. Or maybe he likes dresses bc of his sensory integration disorder tells him that dresses feel better.
The reasons for this being just a phase, were endless.
Thing 2 has a severe expressive and receptive communication delay. He is brilliant and we know that he has tons of knowledge just waiting for the words to form in his brain to unlock it all. So we decided our son was just gender creative. He didnt have the language to explain to us how he was feeling.
And we decided we would support him but give him ground rules….no feminine dressing for family functions, and definitely not at school. Once he was at home, or on the weekends, he would be free to wear what he wanted.
During prek, even though he wasnt allowed to wear dresses to school, the first thing he did when he got to class most days, was he went straight to the dress up cabinet. And he found the prettiest dress. And he wore it all day.
His preschool teacher was his first fierce supporter (outside of family of course). And she still is!
And then we entered kinder. And it was a huge adjustment. I mean, it is even for NT children. But for Thing 2, the stress became so unbearable, we almost pulled him out of kinder to restart in the fall, or go to a new school. He was running away at recess. The principal was having to chase him down. He was physically hurting people, having constant accidents. Oh the accidents. It got to the point in end of April, Beg of May, that he was coming home early from school 4 or 5 days a week.
I had PTSD from experiencing nightmare situations with him. It got to the point where, when I had to take him anywhere, alone..I would sweat profusely, lose focus, my heart would beat faster, and my knee bounced up and down faster than a pogo stick.
At one point, I swear he was autistic. He was so angry and anxiety ridden. He even got (for lack of a better word) kicked out of taekwondo.
Our lives were pure hell. Meltdowns nearly every single day, escalating in intensity. Some nights I begged for sleep to come so that the next day would get here and be over quickly.
And then, our lives as we knew it, changed. I got a frantic phone call from the kinder teacher. I was in a pain med coma and didnt realize it was a few days old.
Our world turned upside down after that phone call. And everything we thought we knew about parenting and being a team, went straight out the window faster than a bolt of lightning.
A couple months ago, Thing 2 explained to me that when people turn 100, they are finally adults. That was his idea of when you grow up.
Sounds like a plan!
While I was on medical leave, we started talking about his birthday that was coming up in 2 months. And he said to me that he was going to be 6 and then he was going to turn 100 so he can be a girl.
Wait. What? Yeah sure ok…
I decided not to think anything of it. And a couple of days went by. And we were all driving in the car, and he said it again.
A couple more days, and the kids were playing a game and they renamed themselves, and she chose Isabel. And she was beaming with pride and joy.
I spent the remainder of my medical leave researching trans youth, is it possible? What can I do? No…I am pushing this on him. Where did I go wrong?
I knew, in the deepest part of my gut, since that party when he was 2.5yrs, that this was going to be one of our adventures. One of our many journies as a family.
I looked in to all the avenues and ways I could support him. I signed us up for a support group. I joined so many Facebook groups. I told our closest friends and family.
I found him a fantastic counselor that may be 3hrs away but oh so worth it. Hell, it wasnt until the drive to the first appointment did I get hit with grief. Over losing my son. And it wasnt until during that first appointment, that I realized I am at the same point on Thing 2’s journey. I just needed to hear it from a professional that I am not pushing him. That it’s ok to experiment with changing pronouns. To check in daily with him to see where he was at.
So I did. I checked in with him. In private. I experimented. I went to a support group with the kids. I came home with a new sense of peace and resolution, and told the family about our son possibly being trans.
That was the first time I said that out loud. I rarely say that word now. I dont like it. I dont know why.
The next couple weeks were pure hell within the family. The stress was horrific. The pain was unbearable. Not gonna lie, I almost scooped up my kiddos and ran away to start a new life.
But I had my ways. Guerrilla psycholigical warfare. And we slowly started transitioning him to a her. Very slowly. We let only a couple of people know, including scout leaders and teachers. I am still his biggest supporter.
And over the next couple weeks, things happened faster than a dog chasing a squirrel. Teachers were acknowledging her, as a her, in private. And something clicked. Literally. The sparkle in her eye shined brighter than the north star.
She was happy. She was interacting and participating. She was learning and smiling. She stopped running away.
Then we relaxed our rules about wearing female clothes at school. I even took her on a mini shopping spree because I had no idea what her style is (p.s. the more sparkly the better).
Our lives went from pure, agonizing hell. To feeling like we are walking on a rainbow straight to a dance party.
The best part? We went from a major meltdown every single day, to maybe 2 during a bad week. Maybe.
No. Actually this is the best part: I may be losing a son, but I am gaining an extremely happy daughter. And our family is even closer because of this.
This truly has challenged mine and my husband’s relationship. But we are stronger because of it.
We made the change official at school. And we have announced it on Facebook. Thank goodness because I started losing track of who we told and what we told.
And I am so happy to know how many true fierce supporters are in our new daughters corner. I know we have family members that dont agree or don’t understand (hell, we are waiting for our 87yr old Papa’s dementia to advance a little more before introducing his new granddaughter).
But I now know, that she, and we, are surrounded by a tribe that loves us unconditionally. There will be many storms in our future. Being trans is hard, let alone being a trans youth.
But I know our tribe will be our anchor in the storms that will come our way.
And on that note, let me introduce our AMAB (a Male at birth) daughter, Elsa.