Today is an emotional day because, after years of waiting, my daughter is about to finally take the next step to become my son.
I am not emotional because I am losing something…. I am emotional because finally, this day has arrived.
Many years ago, my daughter came to me and told me she was different. She told me she thought she was transgender. This is not something a parent normally is prepared to hear or can read about how to handle in a parenting guide (especially when you yourself aren’t 100% sure what ‘transgender’ is at the time).
Well, a whole new world opened up to me and I learnt fast all about body dysphoria, transgender, genderqueer, non-binary, and bi-gender. I remember thinking ‘Who knew there were so many different categories that we can fit into?’
And thus it has been that over the last few years, we have been slowly working towards changing Brinn into the person he was supposed to be born as.
We have been lucky to have an amazing support network of people who have been incredibly understanding. My parents have been at the forefront of this journey in their unwavering support and encouragement. My friends have listened to me as I struggled with this whole new world, and my clients have been amazing by supporting me as well.
Along with the support, however, there have been the expected difficulties from those who just DON’T understand. I have gotten comments like:
“I think you should wait for her to snap out of it.”
“It sounds like an Aucklander thing. It’s just a fad.”
“It’s a typical teenage phase.”
“I’m so glad that’s not me, because I couldn’t deal with that.”
“You brought her up too open-minded.” (WOW.)
“I don’t know how you could cope with that.”
This last one seems the most unbelievable of them all. How do I cope with that? It’s not me who has to go through this. I am the one who just supports and walks alongside my child in the most difficult thing he will probably ever have to do. And, wake up—this isn’t something one just decides to do; and for me it’s not about coping. It’s about unwavering LOVE and being wholeheartedly accepting of your child NO MATTER WHAT.
One thing that made a big difference is that Brinn goes to an amazing school. The principal, deputy principal, and most teachers have accepting of Brinn and have tried to make school life as normal as possible.
We all know school could have been where things got ugliest. A school that does not support a student can make life incredibly difficult and transgender teens can get into a lot of issues. For one, bathrooms are an everyday problem for students who are transgender because schools have always been built with gender-specific bathrooms, not unisex single toilets. (This is something I would like to see changed in the future.) I am incredibly grateful to the school because the transition has only had a few hiccups.
Brinn has also been lucky with his friends who have been on a steep learning curve to come to terms with their friend’s changes, but they have done so with class and been 100% supportive. Just think about it. When someone changes their gender and you have known them as ‘Bree’ for years, and ‘she’ or ‘her’, it is hard to change to the new name and pronouns (Brinn, he, and him). But they did it because they love him and know this is the true ‘him’.
As a mother, it is incredibly hard to change your thinking from ‘her’ to ‘him’. It has taken a lot of effort to get it right (breaking the habit of years, the conditioning of thinking of him as ‘her’, has not been easy and I still slip up). But Brinn has been patient with me and understanding; he knows that it is hard to switch from seeing my beautiful little daughter to my hunky, cute son.
All in all, we feel very lucky for our community and family. The transition has been almost flawless. It raises worries for me, though. What about him leaving and heading out to the big, bad World where people don’t know him? I can only hope that there is more understanding out there than there are trolls, and people can look past gender to the person before them, that they will see simply the awesome human being who works hard, is funny and geeky, and very caring. I hope someone will give him a job without any issue and that he will be able to find someone to love, who accepts him for him.
Aren’t these the things we all wish for our children?