In the same way that no two births are ever the same, neither are any one parents' experiences. This series explores any and every topic relating to pregnancy, birth and early parenthood, from a featured parent's perspective. This week our featured Mom is simply called "Lucy". Read her powerful story below:
“Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that he is exactly the person he is supposed to be. And that, if you’re lucky, he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be.”
-Joan Ryan, The Water Giver
When my kiddos were toddlers, just 17 months apart, I spent my days “herding cats” from place to place. Grocery store, recreation centre, ballet class… It was controlled chaos and I really loved it. I wore my “two under two” badge proudly.
But in all seriousness, I fell into Motherhood pretty smoothly. I took joy in placing tiny sandwiches on colourful plates, slow walks through the neighbourhood to collect fall leaves, and creating new crafts out of pom-poms and glue. It all felt safe. I was home with my kiddos during the day, and worked outside the home in the evenings and weekends when my partner was home. I had control over the people we saw, the places we went and all the fun we had together in those early days.
When school started for my kiddos, everything changed. At the time, I thought it was going to be full of exciting changes, but it turned out to be full of anxiety and big emotions for my oldest child, J.
You see, J was assigned female at birth and for his younger years and first couple of years at school, we used his feminine birth name and she/her pronouns to identify him. But the anxiety we saw in our child was so huge and so disruptive to his life, that with the help of medical professionals, and lots of conversation with J, we realized we were mistaken… WE HAD A BOY!
This is where my “becoming a mama bear” story really begins. My life was no longer comfortable. I didn’t fall into the role of advocate smoothly. I hated confrontation, and now I needed to confront every single person in our lives to explain this amazing child and ask that they join us in support and affirmation of who he really is.
I was scared all the time in the beginning. And I’m still scared sometimes today, almost three years later. But the mama bear inside me grew and took over my overwhelming feelings, and I advocated. Bathrooms, name changes, pronoun changes, teachers, family, friends, and many many young children.
And each time I advocated it got easier. I learned my new “script” and left very little space for others to question my child’s identity. I met a bright and beautiful community of parents, transgender youth and adults who have taught me so much. But most importantly, I listened to my child and took his lead. By doing that I have become the Mama Bear I never knew I would be.
I often get asked how hard it was for me as a Mother when my child came out as transgender. For me, supporting and celebrating my child was easy, I was with him every step of the way as he learned who he is.
The difficulty came in learning to stand up for myself, my child, and the rights of my child. My Mama Bear did not show up overnight. It came gradually, over time, just as my child came out to the world gradually, over time. One conversation, one question, one pronoun at a time.
Now I advocate in a much more public way by creating community and belonging through The Gender Diaries Podcast. This project has been a labour of love for my creative partner and I. It has become a place for education, support and community for anyone with a gender diverse child in their lives. If you are interested in learning more about our story, or are just plain curious, check it out anywhere and everywhere you listen to podcasts.
Lucy is an alias name and the initial J is used in place of her child’s name. The author has chosen to keep their son’s identity private for the time being. This reflects their family’s hope for him to come out to whomever he chooses, whenever he chooses, and to share his own story when the time is right for him.
Follow Lucy has she tells the story of her experience parenting in this context on her podcast, The Gender Diaries Podcast. Through sharing her story, she hopes to inspire parents, educators, and anyone with gender diverse children in their lives to open their arms in acceptance first, to educate themselves second, and then look around and break down the gender walls society reinforces.