I recently read an article about a MtF trans teen starting next semester presenting as her preferred gender. I was so happy for this young woman, she looked happy and confident in her school uniform in the article in the paper and I was genuinely glad for her. However given the reality that I have been living for the last 21 months I had a yukky feeling in the pit of my stomach. It prompted me to post this on Face book:
As I read another article about a transgender teen or child at the start of their transition journey I give a little cheer internally. But, and it’s a big but, there is so much support and acceptance needed by society as a whole after that first step has been taken – that is the story I want to read, the story where a trans teen went to school and wasn’t treated like a freak, subject to uncomfortable stares, awkward conversations or outright abuse.
That was during the long weekend and I was up at the farm with my beloved. We went for a drive on Sunday through the bush, a beautiful tranquil web of unsealed roads through lovely forest. My beloved was chatting on about tales of settler families in the district, long lost stories of one naughty brother and one good brother and land, while I sat overwhelmed with quiet grief. It is one of the things that I love most about my darling is that he will let you cry, provide comfort but no solutions. He never makes you feel silly for being sad. It is a rare talent and one that I treasure.
When I started talking some very deep fears came out. I had listened to years of complaints from Jeremy before his transition about regular school, how he found other students tiresome, how he didn’t have any friends, how teachers found him weird, how he hated the bathrooms, the bus trip. I listened and openly discussed alternatives. One particularly bad year I would get text messages during my work day demanding that I have an action plan by the end of the day to have him in another school by the end of the week. I had listened to numerous plans about leaving school. I had listened to Jeremy last year about the trials that he faced daily and the decision to move him to distance education was considered and made in consultation with his health team at the RCH. But six months in and I had so many concerns, Jeremy still didn’t seem happy, socially isolated and not completing all the required work. We have 18 more months of education, he is only doing two subjects and not giving these his full attention, why are we going down this path where all the other previous complaints have been addressed and still it isn’t enough. I thought I was asking the right questions and still I was not identifying that work was not completed. Where had this gone so wrong? What else can I do?
I needed to talk to Jeremy. When I arrived back in Melbourne, over Sunday night roast I told the boys about my drive, how I had a wobbly few moments after reading the article and thinking about Jeremy. “Oh mum, I am so much happier now I don’t have to go to school anymore”, then a big hug from J. The situation is a long way from being perfect but there is some reassurance that J is committed to distance ed and he goes not want to go back to school.
Then I read this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-j-moss/grieving-a-child-who-is-still-alive_b_5455076.html
I had found the story of what happens down the road, that the starting point is the same for parents of transgender offspring regardless of the age they transition and the journey will have twists and turns and surprises and days that are startling in their normality. We are a special community of parents and our babies are blessed.