I stood in the kitchen with my husband putting groceries away. My oldest child and I had just arrived home from a trip to town for some food essentials, plus a trip to the Barber Shop.
“I wasn’t prepared for that,” he whispered, while pointing into the other room. “It was like a kick in the sack.”
He looked down, at a loss for words, but none were needed for me. I knew exactly how he felt. I had felt the same emotions watching the first haircut nine months ago, and again today, as the barber took the hair down to the scalp, the shortest it had ever been. It was grief, plain and simple, yet not simple enough for others to understand what I mean.
I see the news stories, read the articles, gape at the vitriol on social media. I can’t say I understand the current political environment, but I do see it. And it frightens me. The commentary often centers on the parents of a transgender teen. Like, how dare they abuse their child in that way?! I can say this wasn’t my idea, nor my husband’s. It wasn’t society, the leftist’s agenda, or even TikTok to blame. It just happened. My beautiful, confident daughter started puberty and hated what her body was becoming. She didn’t know why. But she did know that death seemed better than existing in a body that she didn’t feel was her own. Fast-forward through months of therapy following suicidal ideation and self-harm, and you come to this place where you shop for clothes in the boy’s section for the first time. Something so simple, a request granted that brings that first smile in six months or more. Strange.
I guess people only see the end result, not the agony that brought you there. They see the proud, yet hesitant announcement, but don’t see the tears shed behind closed doors.
I love being a girl mom. My husband is amazing at being outnumbered, so gentle, loving, and strong. I love the pink, frilly dresses, and learning how to french braid all that long, blond hair. I can remember three Christmases ago begging my oldest to please wear the matching dresses I had picked out for photos, “for your mom, please.” Now, no dresses remain in the closet for him. Him. The child I now call son.
Fathers dream of walking their daughter down the aisle. Mothers dream of their daughter having children, so they might share that bond of parenthood that childbirth brings. My husband and I are grieving those things. We’re close to the year mark of when Chloe asked to be called Noah, but for us, it’s still like it’s yesterday that we laughed at little feet clopping around in pink, plastic heels. We no longer say the non-preferred name or pronoun, but we do still have ton of brick, kick to the sack moments. Those moments where, to no decision of our own, we have packed away the dreams for our daughter, replacing them with hopes for our son. It’s a surreal feeling, a loss of sorts. We chose to lose our daughter in gender, rather than to lose her all together physically. We cried for our daughter who wanted to die, and now we laugh with our son who made the brave decision to live.
To live in a world that hates him! I think that’s what worries us the most. I shared with him last night the recent stories and posts I had seen about Dylan Mulvaney and Bud Light backlash.
I said, “I hesitated telling you because I want to protect you from a cruel world that hates you, but I also knew that for your awareness and safety, we have to talk about these things. You have to be careful. There are people out there who will hurt you.”
And I didn’t just mean emotionally.
What parent allows their child to make a decision that could get them killed?
What child makes a monumental choice to become the most hated, most judged, most incorrectly labeled (eg, pedophile) people group of all times?!
We got hens recently. My husband was going to pick one up, and in her scurrying, frantic fear, that ole hen put her head through the fence hole and tried to break her own neck! That’s what I think of when I consider the past year (more than) of our life. Our child was frantic, confused, and fearful. Our baby would have rather died than live an identity that didn’t feel authentic to him. My husband had to gently calm that chicken, and we had to gently love our firstborn, whether he went by his birth name or not, whether he ever wore a dress again, whether he got haircuts at the barber that were severely masculine. That didn’t mean they weren’t still a kick in the sack.
I reckon folks forget that part. They’re so focused on blaming the parents for bad parenting, that they neglect the emotional toll that led to this place. They’re so busy making something a battle to fight, where one doesn’t exist, that they miss the war raging in the minds of suicidal, transgender kids. They forget that whether a boy wears a dress, or a girl gets a shaved head, that inside them that beautiful soul is the same. That is one thing that keeps us steady in the sea of the uncertainty and worry that is being a parent of a transgender child.
There are questions you ask yourself. Like, will they one day decide to be the assigned gender at birth again? But for now, the answer doesn’t matter. What matters is how we love them now. We love them through those inner thoughts of “my daughter is gone,” and we love them through all the kicks in the sack. I love him as I look at old photos, seeing a daughter that used to be. I love him because even though my daughter is gone, my son is here. He is happy, healthy, and smiling. For now, that is enough.