A few nights ago, Jacob* and i had an interesting conversation about how much everyone in our household has changed since learning that he is transgender. He said that he not only feels like he has lived two different lives, but in some ways, he feels like he has had two different families as well.
Before i knew i had a trans child, i considered myself pretty progressive and socially aware. My spouse / Jacob’s dad was (and still is) part of the LGBTQ resource group where he works as a straight ally, and we had lesbian and gay friends. We donated time and money when possible to local and national organizations that work to advance human rights, social justice, and equality.
However, i was really ignorant about transgender issues as well as many other concerns of various marginalized groups, and totally unaware of my own privilege. In my household we used terminology, made jokes, and were okay with television programs and movies that, while not outright racist and/or transphobic, were definitely insensitive and offense, and we were just totally clueless on the matter. We were all products of a society which sends a message that the default is white, heterosexual, and cisgender — and anything other than that is an aberration.
The first time my son “came out” to us, it was to tell me that he is a boy. We had known him as our daughter for 13 years, and, being mostly unfamiliar with trans* issues, this was all new territory. We educated ourselves as much as possible with books, websites, youtube videos, blogs, online parent forums, and in-person support groups. Looking back, i realize that we were doing a lot more than just learning about how to support our child — we were unlearning a lifetime of heteronormative, cisnormative, gender-binary dogma. But, unlearning is a much slower process than learning, i think!
Coming Out Again
I had, only half-jokingly, often encouraged my son — before i knew he was transgender and when i still thought of him as my daughter — to be a lesbian. I sort-of imagined this child growing up to be a “strong independent woman who don’t need no man.” I think he humored me with that thought enough that i actually began to believe that my girl was at least somewhat into girls. So, when i learned that he was a boy, that heteronormative thinking i mentioned kicked right in and i automatically assumed he was into girls. I remember saying: “So this is why you were always attracted to feminine guys, right? Because they look like girls!” He responded with a “Heh” and i can imagine he was cringing inside. I cringe now to think of it.
And so, his second “coming out” was to tell us that he is trans and gay. Well, okay, that made sense to us, his immediate family here in the house of folks who have been transforming in thought as he transitions in body. But, when some of our relatives learned that he had a boyfriend, they had questions like: “Does this mean he is changing his mind about being a boy?” At first i was offended by that, but then i remembered my early assumptions and biases and know i just have to be patient and gentle.
Coming Out Again, Again
Speaking of that “changing his mind” question — his most recent realization about his identity is sure to bring that one more than anything thus far. But, i am confident that if i and the members of my household have come as far as we have in learning and unlearning, anyone and everyone can.
What is this realization? I will let him share this third “coming out” with you himself! He puts it into words so much better than i ever could. You can read all about it on his new blog, here:
Am I “Changing My Mind”?
Finding Color In A Jet Black Rainbow :: My Son’s Blog
(Please follow and show him nothing but love. Thanks!)
*Jacob is the name i use at this blog to ensure my son’s privacy