Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Beginning, Part 1...

Since I started this blog about 3 years after TN came out to us, my posts have been mostly focused on more recent topics. Let me take a step back and recall the first year. I want other parents to realize their roller coaster of emotions is totally normal. 

Here's the beginning, Part 1....

It was clear that TN preferred to be seen as male, he wanted to dress in boys clothing and wanted to very short haircut.  We would go out to eat and the waiter would say "and what would your son like to drink?" and things like that - I could see that made TN happy.  Most typical girls definitely would not want to be mistaken for a boy.  This happened a lot more the year leading up to TN officially "coming out" to me.  That same year, I was finding myself in a position of considering leaving my job to work somewhere different.

In the summer of 2013, things got to the point in my job where I decided to go ahead and quit without having another job first.  It would give me the chance to take a couple months off to totally decompress and then find another job.  During the first weeks off, TN and I drove to my BFF's house a couple states away.  It was a great trip, we had a fun time with her and her teen boys.  I had chats with my BFF during that trip about how I thought TN might be lesbian or....well, my brain just didn't go there.  On the drive home,  TN first came out to me saying he felt he was lesbian. I made it very clear that didn't matter to me and we loved him no matter what - and I was glad he felt comfortable telling me that.

That was very short lived.  I didn't notice TN expressing interest in girls but that doesn't mean anything. So when I said it was short lived, like I mean really short lived!  It was about 2-3 weeks later that TN talked to me in the car about feeling like he was a boy, and not a girl. I didn't consider it then, but now I wonder if TN was "testing the waters" by first saying he was lesbian to see how I would react.

I was off work for 4 months during that time and I truly believe God had a plan for these things.  At my last job, I would consistently work more than 40 hours/week. It probably wasn't as much of a relaxed environment around the house for TN to approach the subject.  My being off work was the key to these conversations, I believe.   The story behind why I ended up quitting without another job is really bizarre...not quite meant for this blog, but let's just say that the series of events that lead to my quitting were totally shocking and hard for many to even believe.  However, when those types of things happen, I just give credit to God for opening doors.  

We had a lot of more uncomfortable or awkward topic discussions in the car or via text over the years. When Ty was 13, he (well "she" at the time) kissed a boy for the first time. He shared that with me via text, even though we were sitting in the same room. We chatted about it via text 10 feet away from each other. 

Talking in a car (both facing forward) or via text in a non-verbal, non-face to face way can lessen a teen's stress. So we were in the car again and TN says "There's something I need to tell you. I know that you love and accept me no matter what. I'm transgender, I'm really a boy, and want to be your son."

I pulled the car over and we talked for a bit. I asked a bunch of questions. I also made it very clear that we loved TN regardless of anything and that will never change. I told TN that we would get help and guidance because this was something I didn't feel we could handle without a therapist or counselor. 

Those first few months, I definitely probed a lot. I wanted to make sure TN knew the difference between being truly transgender and just being a more masculine girl - a tomboy. 

I'd say things like "You know, you can be a girl and not do your hair, paint your nails, or wear feminine clothes, right?"  I would pull up photos and info on women like Ellen Degeneres who wore masculine clothing, didn't act feminine, yet were women. I found gender neutral clothing. I really thought it was in TN's best interest for me to convince TN to just be a butchy girl. That would be waaaayyyy easier than going down the transgender road. 

Many many times we would talk with TN about being a tomboy. That it was ok to be that way and not girly. I also would mention that he's a teenager and this could be a phase. TN strongly disagreed with everything. He tried to get me to understand this was part of his being. I would bring up topics about bullying at school, finding decent jobs, being able to date normally, etc.  I personally didn't think it was worth all of the hassle to try to live as a different gender than your biological sex.  However, TN was adamant, and frankly, incredibly confident in his future.

I'll continue this in a few more posts...  Just know that if you are in the same position and dealing with the same issues, all of your worries, concerns and questions are totally VALID.  Don't let anyone tell you that you are being inconsiderate or intolerant by questioning your child.  That's your job as a parent.  Of course, we all have to reach a point of acceptance, but it's a process.  :-)

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