Trans*forming Family

thoughts on the transition journey of our entire family, from the proud mother of a transgender youth

Criticisms and Misconceptions From People Who Just Don’t Know What They’re Talking About

I’ve had this blog for about fourteen months, and during that time have considered myself fortunate to have received very few negative comments or emails regarding my decisions about my transgender child. I also rarely check my blog stats, and at any given time could not even tell you how many followers i have (although my son occasionally updates me). I find it easier to imagine that i’m just writing to those of you who regularly comment and to those few whom i’ve shared this blog with who know me personally than the overwhelming and intimidating thought that any and every human connected to the internet can read what i write here.

However, i recently discovered that some very kind folks were sharing the link to my blog with others on various websites, so i’ve started looking at my stats more often to see where folks are coming from, so i can learn of these links and thank the people who shared them.

And that’s how i found the link to the most harsh criticism i’ve received yet. The referring website had the word “gender” in the url, so i expected something totally different from what i found when i arrived at the site. What greeted me was a blog run by a self-identified lesbian radical feminist who posted photos stolen from the blogs and websites of trans men, of both top and bottom surgery results, along with disrespectful commentary and refusal to recognize these individuals as men at all. And, in the comments section, the conversation turned to parents — and that is where i found the link to my blog posted with comments that misgendered my son, questioned and criticized my parenting, and generally showed an offensive level of transphobia.

I’ll be totally honest and blunt: my first thought after scrolling through comment after comment was “fuck them and their ignorance!” I wanted to just close out the page and never talk about it or think about it again.

But, as i pondered that website and those comments the remainder of the evening after first seeing them, i realized i could not just forget it. I have to answer at least some of the misconceptions, for several reasons:

I’ve heard them before.

When my son first disclosed that he was a boy, he experienced a brief joyfulness after having battled depression since puberty. That all came to a crushing halt with his next menstrual period. His therapist recommended that until we could find an endocrinologist to give him a puberty blocker, we put him on birth control pills.

So, i took him to my gynecologist. I had always liked her because she is a pro-woman, pro-choice, progressive feminist. I appreciated the magazines and artwork that were displayed in her office. I could go in for an exam in the middle of winter when i hadn’t shaved my legs in three months and be totally comfortable. My spouse and i were still in the early stages of understanding what was happening with our son, and i was relieved to find this doctor supportive and affirming. She congratulated my son on finding himself and being true to his identity. She talked about the university where she did her residency, and how they were one of the first hospitals to perform sex reassignment surgery back in the 1970’s. She gave us a prescription for birth control pills and explained how he could use them without the “off” week so he would only have to endure a couple of periods per year.

And then, she called me at home the next day. She started asking questions about my “daughter” – about my child’s upbringing and our family life. She concluded that she did not believe that my child was really a boy, but that “she” was instead a confused lesbian who did not have enough strong female role models and felt that it would be easier in a man’s world to live as male. I found this incredibly offensive, but did thank her for not saying it in front of my son. She is no longer my gynecologist.

These negative comments make me wonder if i’ve made things look too easy.

I’ve shared here before that i find it difficult to write about the difficult times. There’s a lot about my own personal pain and struggles around my son’s transition that i haven’t shared, mainly because my son reads this blog and i’ve never wanted him to think my support is faltering. But i’ve grieved. I’ve missed the daughter i thought i had. I’ve questioned whether or not i can get through this. And reading those comments, i get the sense that the women who wrote them think i’ve not only jumped on board with my son’s transition without giving it a second thought, but that i’ve perhaps even pushed him into it. Maybe i just need to be more open and honest, even about the rough times.

There might be others who are less set in their opinions who could benefit from some education on this topic.

Whether i like to realize it or not, my blog is “out there” and people are finding it who have no idea what it means to have a transgender child. The most common page for people to first land on here is a simple Happy Birthday from last year which has absolutely nothing to do with trans* issues at all. These folks, who happen upon the blog of the parent of a transgender son, may arrive with some of these same misconceptions but a willingness to reconsider them.

In another lifetime, these women could have been me.

There have been times in my life when i thought i had it all figured out on a certain subject, only to later learn i was utterly and completely wrong. I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian taught that gay people were going to hell, after all! Had the course of my life turned differently, i may not be the mother of a transgender child, and may not even know any (out) trans* people. How would i feel about the subject then? I am very pro-child and extremely protective of young people. Some of the women who criticized me at that blog wrote in a very protective manner towards my child, believing that i am enacting some sort of emotional and physical violence against him. I know they are speaking from ignorance on the subject, but i can empathize with and relate to their general concern for the well-being of young folk. I certainly feel an equal level of distress when i learn of parents who are not supportive of their depressed and anxious trans youth, or of parents who are raising their children in extremely bigoted environments.

Additionally, i am not exactly what you’d call fond of men, having received much more violence than kindness from the majority of the men in my life, and it was difficult coming to terms with the fact that the child i had raised as my daughter was “one of them”. I think that’s why this criticism coming from women who call themselves feminists stung so much: when it comes from religious folks, i “get it” and it’s easy to look past, but this came from people i thought were my sisters. That just shows how very much i am still utterly and completely wrong about.

I won’t address every misconception raised at that website — some are too offensive, some are just downright stupid, and some are simply due to a lack of reading comprehension on the part of the person who wrote them. However, i am going to discuss a few, particularly the ones i have also heard elsewhere in person and online:

The misconception that trans men are confused butch women, whatever their orientation.

To begin with, this disregards gender identity altogether. Since i am not a trans person myself, i can only share what i know of trans* identity from reading educational resources and from listening to the experiences of transgender individuals. What i do know is that while people can question their gender identity in the same way humans can question sexuality (and mainly these questions often arise due to the expectations of our society and fears of being “different” and/or upsetting existing family dynamics), generally trans people are not “confused” and are just as sure of their identity as any cisgender (non-transgender) person.

Gender identity is a real and valid part of being human, and each of us has a gender identity. Many of us have a gender identity that is the same as the one we were assigned at birth, when the doctor or midwife looked at our genitals and pronounced us “male” or “female”. Some of us have a gender identity that differs from the one we were assigned at birth. Neither is more valid than the other, and both should be respected.

On a personal level, as i’ve gotten to know my son as my son over the last year-plus, it has become more and more clear that he has the mind of a boy and is definitely not a young woman, confused or otherwise. He has always been a bit of a mystery, and it’s clear now that this is why. As he has become more comfortable talking with me about himself in the past, he has shared writings and thoughts where he pondered what life could be like if he were a boy for years before he accepted for himself that he is one. These aren’t issues of social injustice directed towards women or of misplaced feminine-masculinity driving his male-ness; his innate sense of self developed at the earliest age is male, and he does not in any way relate to being a woman or to the body he was born into.

The misconception that parents (specifically, me) would prefer a child to be transgender and heterosexual than non-trans and lesbian/gay.

In my own case, this could not be further from the truth. I self-identify as bisexual, something i did not accept until my early 30’s due to my strict religious upbringing, and i think my then-“daughter” may have been the second person in my family and friend circle that i “came out” to after my spouse. I had not only experienced violence, objectification, abuse, and assault from men beginning at the earliest stages of my life, but i had seen other important women in my life experience this too. I have a good relationship with my spouse, and i think my sons are the greatest young men ever to walk the face of this earth, but in general, as i said previously, am not what you’d call fond of men. So, if anything, i encouraged the child i once knew as my daughter to be a lesbian. But that child liked boys, and ultimately, you know what? He’s a gay trans boy. And he is perfect.

Beyond myself though, what i am finding within the trans* community and among other parents of transgender teenagers and young adults, is that many gender non-conforming youth are queer. And the parents who are accepting of their trans youth are generally very accepting of this varied sexual orientation. The idea that parents would rather have a straight trans kid than a gay cis one is just not something i am seeing anywhere, any time.

The misconception that transgender adolescents are “too young” to make life-altering decisions with regards to their gender identity.

This may be the most common criticism i hear. It was the first concern raised by my own family members and friends when i shared the news of my son’s transition. It was even a nagging doubt in my own mind in those early days of learning that my child is transgender. At the root, i think, is adultism and the idea that adolescents are not capable of making any decisions and must be told what to do or how to live by those older and supposedly wiser.

What i find most hypocritical is these accusations being launched by lesbian women, considering that similar criticisms have been directed by those who believe that people can’t possibly know their sexual orientation at a young age!

The fact is that gender dysphoria is a medical condition, and the treatment for that condition is bringing the body into alignment with the gender identity. Just as cisgender folks like myself were certain of our gender identity at age 10, 12, or 15, so are the countless trans kids who are seeking help from their parents to live an authentic life.

My child has scoliosis. We sought care and an orthopedist monitored his spine through his primary growth stage. My child has asthma. We make sure he uses his inhalers as directed and takes all necessary preventative precautions. My child has gender dysphoria. We have obtained psychological and medical care and are treating him with the medically-accepted methods.

I’ve been asked many times, since he is “so young”, what if he later “changes his mind” and regrets any of the permanent changes that will be made to his body due to the medical intervention he will soon receive. When i tell him that people ask this, he finds it laughable. My answer is that if this were to happen, we would medically address the issue then in the same way we are now. Right now i am doing what i have to do to save my child’s life.

This misconception that if a “girl” had enough positive female role models or was allowed to “be herself” then she would not feel the need to transition to male.

This idea, similar to the one proposed by my former gynecologist, was echoed several times in the comments on the referenced website. Apart from the fact that it totally negates transgender identity, it also assumes to know the life details of a person (and in this case, specifically my child and me). In talking with my son about this entire situation, one of his observations was: “Yeah, like a bunch of people who read your blog for five minutes know more about me than my own mother.”

I’ve written about what a surprise it was to me and to my family when we learned that my child was trans, and a lot of that surprise was due to the fact that he just wasn’t a masculine “girl” growing up. I definitely have regrets about not being aware of gender issues when my kids were younger, and wishing i’d put less emphasis on the “boy”/”girl” thing, but my kids were all free to be themselves. My middle son went through a phase when he was pre-school aged where he wore purple nail polish because purple was his favorite color. My youngest child was the “baby girl” of the family, but has definitely been the most independent of the three, and that was always encouraged.

He has shared that, because he didn’t feel comfortable as a girl, he didn’t have an identity. So, he threw himself into ballet and “being the perfect daughter” as a way to distract himself from the reality of his male-ness. He has told me that there is only one thing that he ever felt that he had to do, and that was to be a girl, and when he allowed himself to accept that he was not one, he felt that he failed. This breaks my heart. And he wasn’t taught or told that he had to “be a girl” in any certain way, or be any type of girl. He just knew he was expected to be a girl  because that is what we told him and how we raised him based upon his birth assignment, and he knew he was not one.

He began presenting as male several months before he told us that he was a boy, but because he was a feminine guy, we didn’t know what was going on. He looked sort-of like a 1980’s hair metal rocker with tight skinny jeans, band t-shirts, teased hair, eye liner, a chain from his wallet to his belt loop, a bandanna around his neck, and fingerless gloves. I remember that he was learning to play guitar and all of his musical role models at the time were men, so i sent him some youtube links to Janis Joplin, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, Kimya Dawson, Joan Jett, and other female artists (in my mind at the time, he was emulating the Joan Jett look, not “looking like a boy”!) . He showed absolutely no interest in the videos i sent and i was baffled!

There are women in our personal life who are business owners, teachers, dancers, and musicians that i encouraged him to look up to. However, he once again looked to the men – particularly the male dancers, which i really didn’t understand since he was a “female” ballerina at the time.

Of course, now it makes sense that a young boy is going to look to male role models. And if he had been female, there would have been plenty of women in our lives for him to have sought out as mentors. And, hello – i’m a woman!

It’s insulting to be accused of failing to allow my child(ren) to be themselves, when it is the freedom i’ve given them to do just that that allowed my son to realize that he is, in fact, my son.

The misconception that trans youth are being “forced” to take hormones, have surgeries, or partake in any other aspect of transition.

One of the accusations i saw in the blog comments and have also seen time and time again in comments on news articles about trans youth and their families is that parents are “forcing” their kids into transition, “forcing” them to take hormones, and “forcing” them into surgery. This is so completely false that it’s almost funny, except that people actually think and believe it.

I’m part of several different support groups for parents of transgender youth and adolescents, and i don’t know of a single case where the parents suspected that their child was trans and dragged them to the doctor asking for treatment. Without fail, the child is the one telling the parents “I’m a boy!” or “I’m a girl!” and the parents, usually with much apprehension and often with disbelief and reluctance, are following the child’s lead.

When it comes to puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery, it is the physical distress of the youth who are often cutting and disfiguring their own bodies and deep in depression and suicidal ideation due to extreme dysphoria that lead parents to seek treatment. When children at five and six years old are trying to cut off their genitals, and when adolescents at twelve and thirteen would rather commit suicide than face puberty, it is neglect of a criminal level for a parent to fail to act.

In my case, my son had access to the internet and once he allowed himself to accept that he was a boy, he quickly learned that medical intervention could save him from his physical distress. I didn’t “force” him; he demanded it! I am a strong advocate for him because i know it’s what he needs, but he has known from the very beginning that his body is his own and these are his choices to make.

The misconception that because one person calls themselves a “former” FTM (or MTF) or detransitioned, all transgender identities are invalidated.

This is a logical fallacy to begin with, and in any group, just because one person claims to be an “ex” something that does not mean that no one in the group is legitimate. Again, it’s surprisingly hypocritical that lesbian feminists use this argument and consider it valid, when they certainly would not accept a so-called “ex-lesbian” who has been through religious “reparative therapy” to come along and proclaim herself “cured” of lesbianism!

One thing i have noticed with the few cases i’ve seen of women who claim to be “former FTMs” is that they all admit to having identified as male for reasons that are totally unlike any that my son or the trans guys i know have ever expressed. These women list reasons such as: being uncomfortable with males gawking at their breasts and wanting to generally get away from the male gaze, rejecting society’s concepts of femininity, and feeling “unheard” as women. Now, these reasons sound a lot like the suggestions put forth by my gynecologist as to why my child might be trans, but they sound nothing like the reasons my child has given me! It’s no wonder these “former FTMs” failed, because they aren’t men.

Access to medical care can be a frustrating and difficult experience for trans* people and i am not pro-gatekeeping, but i do wonder if the “former FTMs” had a mental health evaluation from a gender therapist before beginning their transition. The first thing we did when we learned my son is trans was seek out a therapist who specialized in gender identity, to make sure that he was, in fact, transgender (as i said – yes, i did have doubts in the beginning, even though i was supportive and affirming!). I don’t know of any parent in any of the support groups i belong to who hasn’t taken their child to a gender therapist. And honestly, i don’t know of any gender therapist who would encourage someone who gave the “reasons” listed above to transition to male.

(Please see this post regarding what i’ve written here on folks who detransition: Dustin Hoffman made me write this apology)

The misconception that trans* identity disrespects women.

The lesbian feminists whose website i found insist that transgender individuals, both male and female, are a threat to feminism and that trans* identity disrespects women and lesbians. I find the exact opposite to be true. In the last year or so, i have learned a lot about gender and gender identity. I have come to bitterly view our binary society which wants to fit every individual into a checked-box of “male” or “female” and then poke fun at or enact violence upon those who don’t fit. I see this binary system as a part of the patriarchy that views masculinity as strong and authoritative, and femininity as weak and subservient. If trans* and gender variant individuals are a threat to anything, they are a threat to the patriarchal binary system that has oppressed women for millennia. Trans* folk demand to be respected for who they are, not for what they look like or what body parts they have – and isn’t that what we cis women have been demanding all along?

There are other criticisms and misconceptions about trans people (particularly trans youth and their parents), and i’m sure you’ve all encountered ones i haven’t even heard yet, but this post is plenty long enough. Please feel free to respond with your thoughts in the comments section, and share any common misconceptions that you hear that i didn’t include and how you’d answer them if you’d like. Thanks for taking the time to read this very long post, and a special thanks to those of you who have supported my family and me since the very beginning of my son’s transition.

Edited to add:

This post was reblogged at the site where i first found the comments about my blog, my son, and me. I’ve received some very negative comments on this post which have not been published. I felt conflicted at first, because i am usually very much in favor of the free exchange of information and opinions. My thoughts and views have changed so much on so many topics over the years, as i’ve listened to and learned from the wisdom and experience of others, and i usually encourage folks to expose themselves to opposing ideas and schools of thought regularly.

But, the comments i’m receiving are not educational or informative; they are inflammatory and rude. They imply that because the writer’s experience was a certain way, all designated-female-at-birth individuals’ experiences must be that same way as well. And of course, they attack me as a mother and as a human being.

This blog first started as a Word document saved to my computer that i thought no one would ever read but me. I wanted to keep a record of our experience and how i felt about it, because i knew i was so overwhelmed with emotion that i would likely forget some of the details. When i decided to share some of these writings and start a public blog, i did so because i knew there were others who had a shared experience, and i was hoping we could connect.

This is not a “free speech” zone. This is a “safe space” zone. People are free to disagree with me here if they do so respectfully (in fact, i welcome respectful disagreement when i am wrong about something or when i can learn something from it), but i won’t allow the core identity of my son and his peers to be discounted and disrespected.

I didn’t write this post for people who think they have everything figured out and who creep around my blog, copying and pasting comments and obsessing over a child they have never met and who does not affect their lives in any way. I wrote it for those who are interested in honest dialogue and for those who share this journey with me.

136 responses to “Criticisms and Misconceptions From People Who Just Don’t Know What They’re Talking About

  1. rivercitymongrel May 5, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    that particular vein of feminists, especially on the internet, can be really nasty. Sorry that happened.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      I am learning this. I guess there are bad apples in every bushel.

      • Jules May 8, 2013 at 9:10 am

        If it’s who I’m thinking it is, unfortunately no amount of logic will dissuade them or their ilk. I like to think most people are reasonable and will come around given enough time, patience, and education, but it’s a lead-a-horse-to-water situation and I really think many of them just like to bait people into impossible and demoralizing arguments. I’m transgender, and I really appreciate that you care so much about your son and his happiness! Try not to let the haters get you down! :)

  2. doubleinvert May 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    If the radfem site you’ve mentioned is the one I’m thinking of, she’s ripped images from the support message board I frequent. I could not spend more than a handful of minutes there. It was way to hateful.

    Thank you for posting this.

    -Connie

    • Trans*forming Mom May 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      Well i didn’t post the link or the name because my son is pretty fired up about the fact that anyone would dare criticize his mother, and i’m not sure what he might say if he found the blog. I actually had to work the word “stupid” in to this post as a compromise to keep him from seeking them out. My kids are very defensive of me!

      • K.J.B. May 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm

        I too am curious about this person’s identity, because I feel fairly certain I know who it is from her hateful and sick youtube videos. There is more than one person like this I’m sure but what you said sounds like her. I came across her whilst looking at FTM transition videos, where I learned a lot. I am FTM, and I can tell you, I wish my circumstances had been as positive as your son’s are now, with you as a Mom! I was born in the 60’s, there was no way I could have transitioned at a young age then. I am now 49 and waited too long…I am glad your son will not have the same angst and harassment that I had for so many years as a “girl” who knew she was male from the age of 3, and looked male, and more importantly was “read” male even when wearing a dress in grade school. Gender is powerful and usually overwhelmingly evident to the person at a very young age, and others sense it too even if they don’t understand it or don’t even know what they are sensing! Ignore the haters, and keep up the good work.

        • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 11:18 am

          When i was first learning about what being a trans male meant, shortly after my son first told us, i came across a blog that is closely affiliated with the one who has been posting about mine recently. And for a brief moment i thought i should consider what they were saying, but their angry and hateful presentation made it clear that they have serious internal issues and their “arguments” were easily dismissible.

          Thank you for your reply and for sharing your experience. I hope you are doing well.

        • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm

          I just wanted to add here, since you mentioned K.J.B. that you are curious about their identity and may know who they are, that even if some of you do know — i don’t recommend sharing and i definitely don’t recommend commenting at the blog. They will post every bit of private information they can about anyone who comments in a disagreeable way: IP address, email, etc. (all info that i have access to from people who post here, but i would never consider doxing my commenters — even the negative ones — and sharing your information publicly), and it seems they also search the web with that info for any additional personal information they can find to include. So just beware. I am wondering now if maybe i should have made this post as a “these are general misconceptions that i want to answer” without bringing them and their blog into it at all. :\

      • VariousAwesomes May 8, 2013 at 5:18 am

        That’s because you’re a fantastic mom. <3

  3. Cait May 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Reblogged this on Cait.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      Thanks for sharing this. I was afraid it was so long nobody would want to read it!

      • Cait May 5, 2013 at 7:11 pm

        I felt the piece was informative and covered most of the bases.

        I have also found it hypocritical of those who call for more intensive reparative therapy of gender-variant people while at the same time balking at similar suggestions against sexually-variant individuals ♥

  4. Cait May 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I have so wanted to scream whenever someone decided to criticize parents of trans-children for giving them the opportunity to try living as they felt they were until such time as they felt they were ready.

    As for that blogger I can only guess as to who it might be. It’s saddening such hate from the fringes still exist in this world.

    Lots of Joy and Happiness to You and your Son ♥

  5. thegoodgendertrender (@gender_trender) May 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Such a well-written post. It needed to be written and I hope there are many more to come that address some of the undeserved criticism – and sometimes full-blown hatred – directed towards trans* people and those around them. I’m sure that anyone reading this post who may have been unsure of their position on trans* issues will go away with a more positive message and a much clearer view of how these things are reality.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to read it! My honest hope is that it will bring about some understanding. I guess there are some people who will never get past their prejudices, for whatever reason, but hopefully they are a small minority.

  6. Mac May 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I agree with you wholeheartedly and I’m keeping a link to this so I can just send it to the idiots in my life who ask all if these things. You are very clear and thorough in taking all of their flimsy arguments down- go you!

    • Trans*forming Mom May 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm

      Thank you! Most of the time i feel very unqualified to answer these types of arguments — i still feel so new to all of this, really. But in the same way that my son was offended when he learned that there was a website where folks were criticizing me, i was offended that he was being critiqued and misgendered, and i guess the mama bear thing kicked in, and this is the result!

      • Mac May 5, 2013 at 7:19 pm

        In my experience its almost always better to speak up (or at least rant to someone) about it than to stay silent. And mama-bear instincts are there for a reason!

    • K.J.B. May 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      good point Mac, perhaps I will use this blog or parts of it when and if I ever come out to my old, republican, Christian parents. It may help them understand.

  7. killinnocentsandwiches May 5, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    This is an excellent post, thank you!

  8. anexactinglife May 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Thank you. I have a child who identifies as genderqueer and i have thought about all of these things. The only reason I haven’t experienced any hate is that we haven’t shared it with as many people. In the meanwhile, luckily, there have been lots of positive experiences and I am so appreciative of the kind and thoughtful people in the world!

    • Trans*forming Mom May 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      Generally, most of my experiences have been positive. The negative feedback directed at me and my family personally has been very little and not very often. There are people i know who are more in the public eye who have received much more hate, and i really admire their strength and ability to let this stuff slide.

  9. Pingback: Criticisms and Misconceptions From People Who Just Don’t Know What They’re Talking About | CrazyQueerClassicist

  10. ennejoy May 6, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Clicking on “Like this” doesn’t feel enough for such a well-written article… Thank you for this!

  11. TheRealNicky May 6, 2013 at 5:55 am

    This is amazing. I’m sending a link to this to my mum :)

  12. Michael May 6, 2013 at 10:13 am

    This is an outstanding post. Thank you for sharing it. :)

  13. purplemary54 May 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I hate prejudice at any level. I’d be inclined to consider those people bigots against men. The negativity you’ve experienced from some feminists is exactly what gives feminism a bad name; conservative creeps use it as ammunition against women and feminists. Keep fighting the good fight against these misconceptions.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Considering what i’m seeing regarding how they view trans women, i would agree that the root could be a hatred of men. I would guess that because they reject trans identity outright, none of them have taken the time to get to know a transgender person or listen to what being trans really means beyond their own preconceived ideas.

  14. Trans*forming Mom May 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    I just learned that i was reblogged at the site where i found the original comments. Ugh. I hope this doesn’t lead to some sort of back-and-forth thing. I really did think some of these issues needed to be addressed, not just because of what i read there, but because (as i said in the post) i am hearing the same ideas and misconceptions from other places as well. And in the explanation post that details the reblog, once again the lack of reading comprehension skills are apparent (either that or there is a direct effort to mischaracterize what i’ve written here). It’s just creepy that they are scouring this blog and the comments, and posting screen shots, to promote their agenda. I’m so glad i made the decision in the beginning to keep my son’s identity private so weirdos like this can’t post his actual name and photos, or even worse, look him up and harass him.

  15. Andrew May 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Hello. :) I’m a questioning transman (almost 16 years old now) and I absolutely love this article and your blog. I wish I had a supportive family, but I’m 99% sure that my family wouldn’t even try to understand. I have been poking and prodding at them, and on the day of silence back in April I showed them their website (www.dayofsilence.org). They promptly asked me if I was gay with a look of such… contempt. After my fears were confirmed, I denied it and just said I liked supporting the cause. They haven’t bothered me too much about it since, but I’m really sad and I feel like I won’t ever be able to transition, since I feel kind of guilty about it now. They are really nice parents and I couldn’t bring myself to change their daughter… it’s kind of hard to explain. Do you have any advice? I’m seriously worried I’ll be disowned soon (physically or mentally) by them.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      Hi Andrew, have you talked with anyone locally about this? My suggestion would be to find some local support — whether a youth group, a school GSA, a close friend, a counselor that your trust — someone that you can talk with so you don’t feel so alone. If you look at the “resources” page here you will find some links that may be of help to you; one in particular that i would suggest is written specifically for youth and called “I Think I Might Be Transgender, Now What Do I Do?” You can find it here: http://www.ftmi.org/images/0trans.pdf

      If you do decide to share this with your parents, be prepared for them to be shocked and confused at first. Give them some time to process what you have shared with them. Try to remember that any negative reaction they may have is an expression of their own pain, and not a reflection of who you are.

      I wish you the very best,
      Karen

      [And if anyone else has advice or suggestions….please share!]

      • Andrew May 6, 2013 at 11:48 pm

        Hi again! Thanks for the link.
        I have considered going to someone locally, but I haven’t the time/money/car to do so yet. I can’t drive, and haven’t yet had time to learn/get a learner’s permit (plus I’m not completely ready!) and I doubt my parents would drive me, honestly. I have too much fear in my heart to come out to them until I move out. :/ I told my only friend about it and he’s cool with it, but he’s been really busy with things too and he doesn’t know what advice to give me. I would tell more people but the problem is I don’t know anyone else that I could trust to tell. I also am homeschooled this year and I don’t have any GSA to go to. Do you personally know of any good online support groups or something? Any other advice?

        Thanks again,
        Andrew

        • Trans*forming Mom May 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm

          Unfortunately i’m not familiar with online support other than groups specifically for parents, except for one group on Facebook. It was started by Skylar Matthew Lange, and you can probably contact him to learn more about it: http://skylarmatthew.wordpress.com/about/

          Other than that, i would suggest just reading as much as you can. If you search WordPress you’ll probably find a lot of blogs that you’ll find helpful. Some areas have Yahoo groups for LGBT folks in their region. I belong to a Gay Homeschoolers Yahoo group and even though that name doesn’t sound terribly inclusive, i’m pretty sure there are trans people as well as people of various ages from all different parts of the U.S. on that list. Having access to the internet might be the best thing going in your favor right now.

          Best wishes!

        • Gabe May 7, 2013 at 11:47 pm

          Andrew, try livejournal and tumblr for online support/more information. These places helped me get through some rough times. Just knowing there are resources and support can be a big help!

          This place is good for support (someone will almost always answer your questions): http://ftm.livejournal.com/profile
          This link has dozens of other links to help you get started: http://pinoyftm.tumblr.com/links

          Good luck!
          Gabe

  16. southcarolinaboy May 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    These radical feminists, they do not believe trans people have a right to exist at all. Just like homophobic Christians you mention being raised with believe that gay people do not have a basic right to exist, these women don’t believe that trans people have a right to exist. There is no circumstance in which it is okay for someone to transition. There is no such thing as trans people, to them, only cis people who are sinning. Of course they go, “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!” because that is what all bigots do. Children must be protected from sexual deviants. Children can’t possibly *be* this horrible thing because children are innocent, and this thing is bad; no innocent child could honestly feel this way unless someone had corrupted them.

    Basically, no time for these people. I think you say that in the post, though, that this isn’t for them, but for people who might be reachable. Because these people are unreachable. They have their minds made up, they hate trans people, and will prop up their bigotry with whatever excuses they can grasp for.

    The idea that if women were only equal to men, if women only had access to everything that men have access to, then there would be no trans men, they could be happy as women, doing male-stereotypical things. (Gloria Steinem is a big proponent of this transphobic nonsense.) It sounds very simple to cis people who think that vagina means woman and penis means man – just let men paint their nails and let women drive forklifts and there will be no trans people. But the fact is, it’s not about being allowed or disallowed to do male or female typical things, while carrying the banner of “man” or “woman” that other people gave you without your input. Radical feminism was very attractive to me when I was still trying to identify as a woman, because I did not feel like a woman, and I thought my discomfort came from women not being allowed to do things. But ultimately, I had to admit to myself – if “women” (FAAB people) were allowed to do everything men do – clothes, occupations, mannerisms, all of it – but they weren’t allowed to call themselves men, look like men, go by “he”, and live socially as men – then that still was not equality. “Women” were still not equal to men if we weren’t allowed to be men. Not be like men, not emulate men, but actually have access to that gender identity. Is this something that radical feminists concern themselves with? No, because biological essentialism is part of their agenda, but it’s true. If calling myself male was not an option for me, then I did not have equality with (cis) men. And, if I deserved to be equal to men, with no fewer rights than they have, then it was my God-given right to be a man.

    I won’t say much about detransitioners, because I’ve written enough, but from what I’ve heard of them – yes, they do go to therapists, (if they can’t get to a place that does informed consent), and they tell the same lies that people who end up not regretting transition do. (Because therapists and doctors have standards that are still transphobic and out of touch with reality in a lot of cases, and we all warn each other before we go what to say, and what stories to tell, so we can access transition and not be denied.) So, gatekeeping really does not prevent detransition. Also, therapists can’t decide someone really is trans. They may pass a judgment, but they can’t actually know what is going on in someone else’s head. It’s quite possible that you could’ve gone to a very bad, transphobic therapist who could have professed your son “really a girl”, even though he’s not.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      Thank you for this thoughtful reply. I was talking with my oldest son about all of this earlier this evening, and when i began trying to explain the whole situation, he stopped me and said “Wait, what? How can you be a lesbian radical feminist and not believe in transgenderism?” In his way of thinking that sounded like the most progressive thing one could be, and the idea that they could reject trans people totally blew his mind.

      And yes, this post wasn’t for them, because they sure seem set in their thinking and i don’t have the time or energy to try to change their minds. I appreciate your additional thoughts and input, particularly with regards to gatekeeping. Very glad you shared this.

      Thanks again.

      • southcarolinaboy May 6, 2013 at 9:11 pm

        Yes, it’s really quite a shame that these very conservative, backwards people tack the word “radical” onto the front of “feminist” and that’s what they use to describe their way of thinking. Because when it comes down to it, they are neither.

    • maddox May 7, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      Another consequence of the “Think of the children argument” and trans youth is that this time it’s the children who are at the center of the argument. Before, the “sexual deviants” were always adults, at least the ones in the spotlight, and children were just innocent bystanders. But now children are the object – in the LGBT umbrella, the only ones who are little kids are those who are trans (for the most part, though this is also slowly changing). Because obviously people confuse gender identity and sexual orientation, children are being “sexualized” and which is a whole other huge taboo.

  17. Alex May 6, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    So I have never seen your blog before, until today, and I must say that I am touched. I am preparing to come out to my father about being trans* and am a little more than nervous. It may sound a bit silly but your post has given me a little hope back that not everyone will automatically fight me, or other trans* gents and gals, on identity. Thank you for responding to those criticisms, I am actually considering having my family members read this when they inevitably start raising the same concerns with me. You are a wonderful person from what I have read. Again, thank you.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      Thank you so much for this, Alex. Now i am touched! I hope all goes well when you talk with your father. I remember being in a bit of shock when my son first told me, followed by grief, but as time goes by it feels more and more as if he’s always been the boy he is now.

      Again, i hope all goes well and i wish you the very best.
      Warm thoughts, Karen

  18. tendergender May 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Wow, great post. Lots there. I just wanted to mention one thing tho: I disagree that gender dysphoria is a medical problem. I know it has been medicalized, and that the medical profession seems, at present, to be best suited to help people transition, but I’m uncomfortable with medical professionals being the ones that call the shots (pun intended). While I am considering transitioning medically, I’m also trying to research ways to transition without involving the medical community. For some people hormones and surgery are absolute necessities. For others it is not. So while gender dysphoria is currently considered a ‘medical problem’, I’m not sure that this is ultimately the best paradigm for understanding and dealing with gender identity issues. I know that many people may disagree with me here, but there are also lots of people who are very critical of the medicalization of trans* bodies. Just my two cents, and I agree with 99% of the other stuff you said. Keep up the good work. :)

    • Trans*forming Mom May 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      I really appreciate you voicing your opinion on this. I don’t consider my views concrete on this particular aspect.. I think right now i view it as a medical issue because my son’s dysphoria is so strong, and i know that medical intervention is what he needs. I’ve seen the psychological effect that just one testosterone injection has had for him and how much it has alleviated his depression.

      But i also have friends who are themselves gender variant or who have kids who are genderqueer or just don’t identify strongly enough with one gender or the other to seek medical intervention. And i don’t think that makes them any “less” trans or that their gender identity is any less valid.

      Among our parent groups, there are some who compare having a trans child to having a child with diabetes or similar ailment, and others who take great offense to these types of analogies. I am still working all of this out and may in the not-too-distant future disagree with myself on that 1% of the stuff i said too!

      Thanks again. =)

      • maddox May 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

        While it may or may not be a medical problem (depending on your views), I think at least the analogy does works.

        It’s like how people are embarrassed to address mental illness (like depression), when they’d be straightforward and get appropriate medical treatment about a physical one (like diabetes). In neither case should the person be regarded as a “sick” person, but there is a condition that needs to be taken care of by specialists – it’s just that one has more stigma associated to it.

  19. Samuel N. May 7, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Hey, I just wanted to leave a comment to let you know how much this post means to me. Other people can tell you it’s well-written (it is), compassionate (of course it is), etc, but as a transman who is still trying to piece things together, seeing this level of support helps immensely when I (and other transmen/boys) end up stumbling across hateful blogs, which I don’t read simply because if I wanted hate I would read about Fred Phelps. I’m not your son, but just the knowledge that there are supportive people makes everything easier. My own mother is conditionally supportive and still isn’t sure what to do, although she has introduced me as her “son, Sam” and isn’t afraid to tell people about me– combined with references to her “girls,” which leaves me pretty confused.

    But anyway, thank you for writing this.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 7, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      I really appreciate this, Samuel. I spent days trying to decide whether or not i should even write this post. I’m glad i did.

      I wish you the very best.

      • Ethan May 7, 2013 at 7:55 pm

        I completely agree with Samuel, as a transman myself it felt fantastic to know there are such wonderful supporters out there. My parents are still at a place where they are coming to terms with it all and although they are trying (they got me some mens sleeping pants for Xmas for example), I still feel like to them I am still their “daughter”. Not only does this post address some of the issues I feel they may have been having, I feel it addresses some of my personal ones as well (was I only feeling that I was trans because I didn’t have many female friends?).

        Thank you very much for posting this, I will definitely be sending it to them. Perhaps hearing support from another parent’s point a view will help more. :)

        • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 11:28 am

          I think it takes more time for some parents than it does for others. It’s good news that they are trying! I have seen various levels of support and acceptance from other parents, and i know that some really struggle…they want to accept their child as the proper gender but find it very difficult. I think trans people tend to see this as rejection, and are offended by it — this is totally understandable!, but sometimes patience is really what some parents need. This may or may not be true in your family’s case, but it does seem to be common.

          I wish you and your family the very best.

  20. Darlene Tando, LCSW May 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Dear Karen,
    First of all, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with seeing your posts used in a negative way. What you are doing is tremendous and I’m sure you will see reactions of all sorts to it. I can only guess what is going on for that other person, but that is their own battle to fight.
    I absolutely love how you have addressed so many different misconceptions, and I agree with everything you said about them. Thank you thank you thank you! I will most certainly be sharing this. :)
    Warmly,
    Darlene

  21. maddox May 7, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been to read through that blog, and digest it, and then write this all out. If my blood could boil, it’d be overflowing right now.

    Hate and ignorance are everywhere, even within “OUR” community… it just hurts more when it comes from the inside. So let us also offer love and understanding and compassion.

    There is no amount of arguing or rhetoric or “proof” that would convince these people otherwise. But this will certainly help those who are on the fence, who need a little nudge to believe, to take that leap of faith with themselves or their children. For them you have made all the difference in their world.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      Yeah, very hard because it felt so much like a personal attack…because it is a personal attack. I was really angry at first, but for the most part they write as if they are deeply troubled and concerned about my son, so i am trying to remind myself that their misguided worry is at least coming from a nice place even if it is unnecessary and weird. I think this has helped my son with his anger too, even though he finds their interest in him creepy.

      On the flip side, i’ve also experienced transphobia from gay cis guys, but that has come from a more “clueless” place, i think, and mostly in the form of mean comments that were intended to be jokes but that just weren’t funny.

      I was so naive as an outskirts supporter of “LGBT issues” before really becoming involved in the community — i actually believed that this was one big happy family! I am honestly chuckling to myself at that as i type this.

      Thanks for response. =)

  22. Eiric May 7, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Kudos. You are a wonderful parent, a loving mother and an intelligent, caring soul who stands tall with your son beside you. Kudos to your son who knows who he is and braves the weather. I sit here recovering from my first surgery at the age of 44, and a long life of hiding and pretending so I would fit in and not break anyone else’s heart. So, now its time to be me…my time to finally feel comfortable in my own skin. Your son will have a full life being himself, with no regrets. Thank you for supporting your son with such courage and determination. The world needs more parents like you!

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Congratulations to you on being true to yourself! And thank you for your encouraging words. They are greatly appreciated. I wish you the best as you heal and enter this next exciting chapter of your life.

  23. transparentguy May 7, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    As always, I think you’re amazing and strong and a wonderful protector and nurturer. Your son is lucky to have someone one his side who is willing to really listen to him and to help him seek out the best path for him. No one will ever truly understand this who doesn’t go through it, but you sure do a great job of trying to explain all the complex emotions that both of you are dealing with on any given day. Keep documenting this. You have no idea how many people you may help.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Why do the things you write so often bring me to tears? =) Thanks so much. And thanks for being one of many who are helping me along this path. I know i could not do this alone.

  24. Sue May 7, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and informative post. I think that we all need to find our own self-worth, sometimes at the expense of others. It is so easy to judge. For many years I knew how to be the world’s greatest mom. I knew exactly what to do in every situation and everything was perfect. And then I had kids and everything changed. We do our best and we keep learning. We now have a delightful daughter whom we raised for 26 years as our son. We were sure many times that we were losing our son due to depression that we could not understand. When she finally trusted us enough to share that she was transgender, our lives changed in ways we could never have imagined. No one can know how difficult and amazing it can be to be blessed with a transgender child. Sorry for the rambling comment. Just continue to be there for your son, believe in yourself, and keep working on educating the world!

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      Sue, thank you for this. “No one can know how difficult and amazing it can be to be blessed with a transgender child.” That is so true. Until a person has experienced this terrifyingly earth-shaking joy, they cannot really understand. Thanks for your inspiring and encouraging words, and all my best to you, your daughter, and your family!

  25. transstingray May 7, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    This was wonderful and inspiring. Thanks!

    And yeah, that sort of feminism is pretty much “biological essentialism is bunk, except when I say so” + lots of transmisogyny and theories over people’s realities of oppression.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      I am really trying to understand where they are coming from. But what i’m seeing is the argument that gender is a social construct and the reason for oppression of women, therefore gender identity is invalidated; yet in certain places or cases, they clearly make distinctions based on sex and want that divide between the genders. While i agree that there is a lot with regards to gender expectations that is driven by society, i think gender identity is clearly innate and definitely exists, and the medical and scientific community back this up. I think society is generally moving in this direction as well, which is probably why those who disagree for whatever reason, be it ideological or religious, are pushing so hard against it.

      Thanks for your comments!

        • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm

          Interesting! Thank you for sharing that. I am going to admit up front that a lot of what Natalie Reed writes goes over my head. But, i follow her on Twitter and appreciate her perspective. I have read this once and will probably have to read it again (and maybe again) before i am qualified to comment! But again, thanks for sharing.

        • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm

          This might be a good place to include two of the comments i have received, but do not want to approve for posting for several reasons. However i will copy them both here:

          You seem to have a problem with asserting a common experience between women, yet you yourself assert that everyone has a gender identity. This is false on its face. Not everyone even believes in gender, much less has a “gender identity.” I know I certainly don’t.

          and

          Why the idea or performing an transitional surgery to a non-adult? Gender identity is a social construct and this is wrong to assign a gender identity to anyone, especially a non-adult.

          I guess the accusation in the second one is that i have assigned a gender identity to my son; the reality is that he figured out his own gender identity before sharing it with me after having struggled with it for a long time. I honestly did not even realize trans men existed when he told me he was a boy. I knew there were trans women, so i figured there must be trans men as well, but up until that point i had never given it thought because in my mind, who’d _want_ to be a man? With regards to whether gender identity exists for everyone or not — who knows? All i know is that my son has one, and it’s that of a male, and anyone who tries to deny that is just simply wrong.

  26. Celeste Deuel May 7, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    I love your article! I wish there were more parents like you in this world! Those kind of radical feminists can be so hurtful at times.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      Probably a decade or so ago, i was part of a feminist discussion forum, and i remember that they called themselves “radical” feminists. As far as i remember, the subject of trans folk never arose, but i wasn’t there very long, because once they found out i was a mom who worked part-time from home and homeschooled my kids, i was totally unwelcome. It was incredibly hurtful that women whom i agreed with on every other issue (that i knew of) felt that this one personal thing about me disqualified me from being “feminist” enough to be welcome in their community. I don’t know if they were in any way affiliated with the “radical feminists” of today, but that mindset of “agree with us or be worthy of condemnation” is definitely the same. I broke free from fundamentalist religion, have refused to associate with fundamentalist atheists (and they do exist!), and generally don’t like fundamentalists of any type. Life is too short and there’s too much to learn and too many people hurt by dogmatic thinking.

      Anyway…thanks for your comments!

  27. Jai May 8, 2013 at 12:07 am

    I just want to thank you for your post. It gives me hope to know that there are supportive families out there. I was 28 when I started my transition, due to fears of rejection from my family, which is what happened. I am angry and sad that my family is not a part of my life, but despite them not being a part of my life I know I made the right decision. Your post helped me to understand that they are also going through their own process. Thank you for loving your son and supporting him even in times when you didn’t quite understand.

    Also there are always going to be haters. The important thing is your providing information that is very valuable to others

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Thank you, Jai. I am really sorry that your family is not currently part of your life. I have heard from parents who have taken years to come around, but who have eventually accepted and affirmed their children. It’s good to know that you are living authentically; i send my wishes that you can soon do this with your family’s full support.

  28. Jonah May 8, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Your love and support for your son is overwhelming. I’m so happy he has you. I came out to my parents with this video (http://vimeo.com/26816599) a couple years ago. They still have not accepted me for who I am, and refuse to use my name even now that it’s legally changed. I have essentially lost my family over a petty thing like gender. Your unconditional love for your child has set a precedent that will last a lifetime in your family. He will always know he can turn to you, no matter what the situation.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      Jonah, i watched your video this morning and was very moved by it. Thank you for sharing it. I’m really sorry to hear that your family has not accepted you. I really hope they will change their thinking on this at some point, for your sake and theirs.

      • Jonah May 9, 2013 at 12:02 am

        Thank you for taking time out of your day to watch it. Everyone’s perspective is important, and I’ve very much enjoyed reading yours. Continue being awesome <3

  29. Maeve May 8, 2013 at 3:47 am

    Wonderful post, thanks. I’ve shared your blog with a group I run in the UK for friends/families/partners of trans people. As a partner, I do often struggle with what to say to parents whose children have just come out, as it is clearly a very different experience from dating a trans person (though many parents have been comforted by meeting us, and accepting that being trans does not mean a life of solitude and celibacy!). I will endeavour to read more of your blog to help me understand parents’ experience.

    In terms of this post, I know the site you are referring to (and totally agree with not naming them!). I think it is very telling that the responses you’ve had from them have not been publishable, despite you encouraging disagreement and debate. If they truly wanted to discuss an issue, they would, but really they just want to spread their hate and prejudice. It’s so tragic really.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Hi Maeve, thanks for your comments and for sharing my blog with your group. In the parent groups i am part of here in the U.S., i do see the fear of our youth being alone / not finding a life partner as one of the big concerns parents have (that and being the victim of violence). I am sure it’s a great help for the parents in your group to have you! Thanks again and i hope you will visit and comment often. Your perspective is much appreciated.

  30. Johnny May 8, 2013 at 4:25 am

    I loved this post, and I thank you for writing it and please, please consider putting your essays into a book. So many supportive-but-mourning mother would benefit from your insight, even just to hear that someone else is feeling the same mixture of love and fear and Mama Wolfishness against detractors and missed stitches and faltered steps on the road to doing the best you can for your children. Love for you and all of your babes. Email me when your manuscript is done. ;)

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      Thank you so much, Johnny! It means a lot that you think my writings are worthy of publishing. Some of my family members have been saying that for a while, and i laugh it off. Maybe someday! And if it happens, i will definitely contact you. =)

  31. womandrogyne May 8, 2013 at 4:26 am

    It warms my heart that there are parents like you out there.
    I hear this so often, the bizarre unconscious assumption that someone who’s young knows their own mind, if what they are coincides with the cultural “norm” – but suddenly can’t possibly know their own mind as well as some complete stranger does, if what they are is something different from the cultural “norm”. I have young trans (and queer) friends whose identities regularly get dismissed out of hand by their elders. I understand that there’s a lot of fear driving this desire for “normality”, but some of the things I hear make me cringe so much.
    On top of that, there’s the dismissiveness that the less binary-gendered people have to deal with from some folks in the trans* community – which reminds me very much of the biphobia I was dealing with from the queer community when I was younger (and not out as trans).
    I just think the more love and encouragement someone has when they’re young, the more likely it is that they’ll simply find out who they truly are and live that self; we shouldn’t be trying to guess people’s lives for them, not even the people we know really well – never mind trying to tell complete strangers who we think they should be.

  32. Nadeest May 8, 2013 at 5:40 am

    You know, I sometimes think that at least half of all the trouble in this world is caused by people that are absolutely convinced, that anything that they think, could not possibly be wrong. Thank you for being willing to admit to being wrong, and to being a very concerned, good parent.

  33. emberwing May 8, 2013 at 6:48 am

    Thank you. It makes me tear up a little to know there’s parents like you out there. I know about the hate-blog you mentioned (at least I hope it’s the same one, there shouldn’t be two of those things out there, sheesh), and personally you, this post alone outweighs their negativity for me.

  34. yetanotherlefty May 8, 2013 at 6:58 am

    I thought you might like to read my take on the “But think of the poor children!” argument: http://yetanotherlefty.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/making-the-best-choices-we-can-make-with-what-we-have/

    I basically argue that being cis isn’t better or more desirable than being trans so there’s no reason to try to prevent anyone from exploring their gender in case they “become trans”.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Thank you for sharing this!

      I also appreciated one part of transparentguy’s comment here: http://yetanotherlefty.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/making-the-best-choices-we-can-make-with-what-we-have/comment-page-1/#comment-18

      …The absolute certainty that I was male was something that was so deeply a part of me and that never went away. It’s internal; it’s driven; it’s not a phase or simple non-conforming behavior. I don’t know how to explain this well, but that huge divide between my experience and the descriptions of a whim “I wanted to be a fire truck” is what gets me when I read those comments. There is no way those two things can be equated.

      You’ve probably all heard about Coy Mathis, the 6-year-old trans girl in Colorado whose school would not let her use the girls’ bathroom. One “argument” i kept seeing again and again in the comments on news articles about her story went like: “When i was six, i wanted to be a kitten. What if my parents had supported that and allowed me to transition to a cat?” blah blah blah. Like, how to you not grasp the difference between play and core identity? More than that, how do you not respect children enough to trust that they can?

  35. Valerie L Nelson May 8, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Reblogged this on ValerieLNelson.com and commented:
    Haters are gonna hate, but this mother of a FTM trans kid warms my heart with responding to self-identified RadFem (TERF) rants about how she’s an evil pawn of a patriarchy conspiracy that’s hell-bent on a butch lesbian genocide via forced FTM transition.

    Hope everyone is has a wonderful Wednesday!

    XoXo
    Valerie

  36. Linda May 8, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Mom…
    – I have a trans child, now my daughter. Because of her I became involved in Mermaids, a UK support group for gender non-comforming children and teenagers. Every point you make above I have met before – they are often used by parents who are trying to find any reason whatsoever as to why their child cannot and will not be trans*. They even say that their child has been recruited by other trans people, and persuaded to be trans, or that the child is just saying they are to get attention, and therefore should just be disbelieved. OK, no parent ever wants their child to be trans* – I certainly didn’t – but please, open your minds! Being trans can cause so many issues for adults – and often even more for children who are stuck in schools (often a hostive space) and living at home with disapproving family – who on earth would just decide to be trans* on a whim, or because someone else persuded them! Thank you for this item on your blog, I will certainly let our members know of it.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Linda, it is wonderful to ‘meet’ you! I remember finding the Mermaids UK site as one of the first back when i was educating myself after first learning that my son was trans. Thanks for your comments and thank you for sharing this link with others, as well.

      On the flip side of what you’re saying, i have seen supportive parents (myself included) accused of turning our kids trans ourselves. Like you said — who would chose this for our children? Not because it is a bad thing, but because it is a hard thing. However, having said that, i love my trans kid and feel very blessed and thankful to be his mother. When i think of the families out there who are not supportive, and imagine the possibility of my child having been born into a family that refused to accept him as he is, it’s an unbearable thought.

      Thanks again,
      Karen

      • mermaidsuk May 9, 2013 at 9:50 am

        Hi Karen

        >>On the flip side of what you’re saying, i have seen supportive parents (myself included) accused of turning our kids trans ourselves. Like you said — who would chose this for our children? Not because it is a bad thing, but because it is a hard thing. However, having said that, i love my trans kid and feel very blessed and thankful to be his mother. When i think of the families out there who are not supportive, and imagine the possibility of my child having been born into a family that refused to accept him as he is, it’s an unbearable thought.<<

        Yes, I've seen supportive parents being accused of persuading their child to change gender (me included, but luckily this was overcome) – my answer is – who on earth would ever WANT to do that! Having a gender variant or trans* child is very difficult, emotionally draining, and stressful. In all my 18 years with Mermaids I've not come across one person who is guilty of it. I too am very blessed to have my trans child – now well and truly grown up and with no regrets about her gender change! She has taught me so much about human 'difference'.

  37. Allison May 8, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Thank you for your post. Linda did, indeed, share on Mermaids and I think the post is wonderful! It it will be the first anniversary of “the bombshell” on the 15th May and so much has happened since then. You have encapsulated so much of what I’ve heard in just a year and I remember feeling sick to my stomach when I first came across a transphobic radfem blog. Especially, as, like you, I’d considered myself a bi feminist for 3 decades! I had thought about trying to write about the emotions etc which I’ve experienced through the last year but would feel a bit redundant now! Keep on blogging and I look forward to reading back through your writings.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Hi Allison, it’s nice to meet you! Thanks for your nice feedback. However, you should definitely go ahead and write your own experiences — somehow i find that writing about it helps me process the things that have happened and how i feel about them, so it’s like a form of therapy for me. You may find that it’s helpful and i’m sure your voice is needed as there can never be “too much” support!

      Thanks again and warm regards.

  38. alcinoe01 May 8, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Thank you so much!! My son told me that he was transgendered about a year ago, at the age of 22 and there were many feelings. Was I a bad role model and make being a woman look bad in some way? Did I miss signs of distress or address them wrong? What if this is just experimentation? He is also gay, which causes a lot of confusion for others.
    I have just found your site and will be here more often now. I love my son SO much, but I do miss my daughter, even if he never really was my daughter. Still, he is who he is, and I still love him, never even considered not loving him. I want to be supportive and realistic and not make him want to hide important things from me for fear of disapproval. So far so good (I think), but support is so good to have. Thank you again.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      I can so relate to the feelings you are describing. So much guilt! I was questioning everything that i could have possibly done to have “made” my son transgender, even things like: did i stand to close to the microwave oven when i was pregnant? I looked back over every memory and tried to find a place where things “changed” and i missed it. It took me a while to accept that this was not about me at all; this is about him and who he is.

      Thanks for your reply and i hope you will share your thoughts often!

  39. Athan Nyx May 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Thank you for addressing these things. I’m going to share it. I’m a feminine transman and although I haven’t had to deal with these issues from other people I have had to think about these misconceptions myself. I still worry sometimes if because my Dad was a single Dad I ended up getting a male identity because he was my only role model until I was six and he married my step-mom.

    But I always felt when I dressed female it was always more because I liked the clothing or because I thought it would be fun to play a female. But my default internal identity has always been androgynous with more of a slant to male. I can at least share this and let my Dad know that my gender identity is not his fault.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Athan, have you seen the short documentary “The Male Side of Middle”? If not, you might really appreciate it. It’s about 12 minutes, so if you can access Youtube you might want to check it out: http://www.calvinneufeld.com/2011/07/on-male-side-of-middle.html

      Among those of us parents who have trans guys who are more feminine, this phrase – the male side of middle – is common. It is where some of our guys has found themselves. I think, because of our society’s expectations regarding gender, it is a more difficult place to be.

  40. Jo May 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story and staying strong. Its sometimes hard for the people who are supportive of trans people.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      Thank you. I think it’s much harder for trans people themselves; i can take the criticism and if anything it makes me more determined to advocate for my son and his peers.

  41. Elenor Li May 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    This is one of the most perceptive refutations of the RadFem set’s transphobia I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen plenty. Perhaps it takes someone normally out of that trench to put aside the jargon and just offer heartfelt clarity. No, these bigots will not change their ways; they are motivated by ideological superstition beyond the reach of empathy and reason. I do indeed hope your article will be found by many who, like myself at one time, are perplexed and troubled by the virulent hate spouted from quarters often assumed to be natural allies. Please consider submitting this essay to Transadvocate or other such websites.

    Your anecdote about the transphobic gynecologist touched me personally. I was once medically abused by a RadFem nurse practictitioner, denigrated and humiliated, treated as a guinea-pig literally as I had my feet in the stirrups. It left me traumatized, terrified of medical situations, and disaffected with these so-called “helping professionals”.

    Transphobic bile floats around many woman’s clinics and other service cultures, spread through hatemongering websites and bigotry-fests like the MWMF. The prevalence of transphobic vitriol amongst women’s service workers is a real and underestimated danger for transgender people and their families. PLEASE help raise awareness of the need for transgender patients, kids, and their families to be actively screening doctors and nurses for this sort of behaviour. In such institutions, “pro-woman” is often code for “trans-hating”. I’m sad to think of how such people could hurt our youngest and most vulnerable…

    Anyway, you’re doing a marvellous service here. Please keep it up!

    • Trans*forming Mom May 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      This brought me to tears. I am so sorry you experienced abuse and disrespect in an environment where you should have been protected and cared for. It makes me sad and infuriated. One of the projects i am working on locally is a transgender health advocacy group, and we hope to educate local physicians as well as provide information to the community about trans-respectful practitioners. I’ve met with someone from the local Planned Parenthood briefly and plan to talk with her more in-depth. They have an LGBT program but i want to make sure the “T” is actually represented as it should be.

      Thank you so much for your response and for sharing your experience.

  42. Elenor Li May 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    This is one of the most perceptive refutations of the RadFem set’s transphobia I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen plenty. Perhaps it takes someone normally out of that trench to put aside the jargon and just offer heartfelt clarity. No, these bigots will not change their ways; they are motivated by ideological superstition beyond the reach of empathy and reason. I do indeed hope your article will be found by many who, like myself at one time, are perplexed and troubled by the virulent hate spouted from quarters often assumed to be natural allies. Please consider submitting this essay to Transadvocate or other such websites.

    Your anecdote about the transphobic gynecologist touched me personally. I was once medically abused by a RadFem nurse practictitioner, denigrated and humiliated, treated as a guinea-pig literally as I had my feet in the stirrups. It left me traumatized, terrified of medical situations, and disaffected with these so-called “helping professionals”.

    Transphobic bile floats around many woman’s clinics and other service cultures, spread through hatemongering websites and bigotry-fests like the MWMF. The prevalence of transphobic vitriol amongst women’s service workers is a real and underestimated danger for transgender people and their families. PLEASE help raise awareness of the need for transgender patients, kids, and their families to be actively screening doctors and nurses for this sort of behaviour. In such institutions, “pro-woman” is often code for “trans-hating”. I’m sad to think of how such people could hurt our youngest and most vulnerable…

    Anyway, you’re doing a marvellous service here. Please keep it up!

  43. Dara Hoffman-Fox May 8, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    I’m going to be launching a blog in the next couple of weeks called “Conversations with a Gender Therapist” and greatly appreciate the heads up about your experience. I too am hoping to create a space in which people can connect and share and learn, and will be very sad when the negativity tries to seep in. But at least I know there is strength in numbers, when it comes to those of us who are standing together in respect. Am happy I came across your blog, and will be linking to it from mine for sure!

  44. The Blasphemous Homemaker May 8, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Thank you. Just…. thank you. This was wonderful, heart felt and informative.

  45. mermaidsuk May 9, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Hi Karen

    >>On the flip side of what you’re saying, i have seen supportive parents (myself included) accused of turning our kids trans ourselves. Like you said — who would chose this for our children? Not because it is a bad thing, but because it is a hard thing. However, having said that, i love my trans kid and feel very blessed and thankful to be his mother. When i think of the families out there who are not supportive, and imagine the possibility of my child having been born into a family that refused to accept him as he is, it’s an unbearable thought.<<

    Yes, I've seen supportive parents being accused of persuading their child to change gender (me included, but luckily this was overcome) – my answer is – who on earth would ever WANT to do that! Having a gender variant or trans* child is very difficult, emotionally draining, and stressful. In all my 18 years with Mermaids I've not come across one person who is guilty of it. I too am very blessed to have my trans child – now well and truly grown up and with no regrets about her gender change! She has taught me so much about human 'difference'.

  46. John McGowan May 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    A generation ago, and even in your sons generation, transgendered young people and adults had to go it pretty much alone. Your son is blessed to have loving and supportive parents to help him. There was no manual, no guidebook to follow. There still isn’t, but there are those who’ve been through the process themselves or with family and friends. There is the small but growing collection of wisdom being shared by you and your son for everyone else out there and which, I’m sure, you’ve both tapped into along the way. The criticism sounds like it’s coming from those who have not been through, or even near the transgender process. You are both heading in the right direction. You will know when the path is not right and change course accordingly. All the best to you both, always.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Thank you, John. I do get the sense that some of the harshest criticism is coming from folks who have never met a trans person (or at least not that they know of!). Having come to know so many transgender men and women personally, it is impossible for me to think of them as anyone other than who they are, and the idea of identifying people based on body parts seems very archaic. Thanks again for your kind words.

  47. anon May 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    The reasons your kid gives for wanting to be a boy may not be the actual reasons. It may take decades for those to surface. I lied to gatekeeping professionals so easily, just like all of my friends. None of the “FTMs” I knew then still think they are male. A few still live as such because there was no going back after a certain point. We all live with the consequences of decisions made before our brains were even done developing. This isn’t about politics or any brand of feminism. It’s about wanting to spare someone else from what too many of us live with. Treat your kid as a boy, respect the chosen name and pronoun, but for any sake do not go through with irreversible surgeries and hormonal effects.If those are a good idea now they will still be a good idea in ten years; for FTM-direction people there is no rush. Please look at groups like this, for example, to see that the only concerns are not coming from the groups you have named thus far: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nogoingback/ Please think about the fact that people who “specialize” in this professionally are a) operating in something of an echo chamber, and b) not working with any research or data sets, because the research simply does not exist.

    • Trans*forming Mom May 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      Hi anon,

      I felt very conflicted about approving your comment, but decided to do so for a couple of reasons. I’ve heard privately from a few people who have de-transitioned (male and female) but who are still supportive of the trans community and who recognize that transitioning just did not work for them. When looking at the link you included, i think the group is of that same mindset.

      I also want to answer some of the points you raised.

      You mentioned the lies that you and your friends told the gatekeeping professionals, something i have heard others mention as well. I think it is important to clarify that when my son first came to me, he was not aware that a person COULD transition from female to male, he was NOT at all happy about the realization that he was male, and he was not in contact with any other trans guys online or in person. His sense of identity developed totally internally. It was not until after he shared his news with me that he began to seek out more information about what he was going through and what he could do to alleviate the discomfort he felt.

      With regards to waiting ten years — i don’t know that he’d be alive in ten years if i waited. I don’t know if you’ve read anything else at this blog beyond this one post, but my child has been suicidal since the onset of puberty. His dysphoria is severe. I won’t go into all the details in this comment, but the reason i have agreed to begin his physical transition at his young age is that i fear losing him if i don’t. The last two weeks since he has been on testosterone are the happiest and most carefree i’ve seen him in probably five years.

      I don’t doubt that there are people who decide that transitioning is not right for them, or who regret their decisions, or who decide to live somewhere in the middle. I don’t know what the future will hold for my son. If at some point he needs to live differently, we will do whatever it takes to make sure that he receives the medical and mental health care that he needs to make that happen, just like we are now. Right now i’ve just got to do what i’ve got to do to save his life.

      • anon May 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm

        And I don’t doubt that your kid needs help. But with a history of eating disorders and suicidal ideation, I’m especially unconvinced that this is what “help” looks like. Every one of my cohort that I mentioned was horrified by the onset of puberty and experienced extreme hatred of having a female body, dread of what it meant to go from “boyish” to “womanly,” obstacles to the old methods of dissociating from that reality. It is a fundamentally different thing from wanting to be male. It may be easier for you to dismiss all these private communications as being from “people who just don’t know what they’re talking about.” Unfortunately, some of us know all too well. Please listen.

        • Trans*forming Mom May 10, 2013 at 12:46 pm

          “It is a fundamentally different thing from wanting to be male.”

          Exactly. And i trust that my son knows much more about which is the case for him than strangers from the internet who have never met him.

          • Educated Rita May 11, 2013 at 8:47 am

            “We are anonymous strangers but we know your child better than you do because we are experts and we know more than you. Our perspective is the only perspective. We cannot understand your reality therefore it can’t be happening. You are only the mother so you can’t know what your talking about and this is all your fault. You must doubt the assurances that your child is certain about his own identity because we have the proof that many people are mixed up therefore you and your son must be mixed up too. ”

            Oh pleeeease listen to yourselves! No more.

            • mermaidsuk May 11, 2013 at 9:53 am

              Definitely no more pleeeeeease! Why do so many people wear blinkers all the time? Yes many people are mixed up, but not all. My trans child transitioned nearly 20 years ago, she’s entirely happy about her gender now, as are many other young people.

          • Another Anonymous Person October 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm

            Please, don’t be dismissive of anon. Yes, she* and her friends are strangers, but they have a perspective based on real-life experience of transition and what happens a few years down the line. They know something about themselves and the changes they went through as they grew up and found other paths worked better for them. Anon may not be right about your child, but she is raising an important issue about transition, particularly for children. She is speaking respectfully and she sounds like she genuinely cares.

            Even if none of this applies to your child, I hope other parents will think about it.

            *I’m assuming anon would prefer the pronoun “she” at this point. Sorry if I’m wrong.

            • Trans*forming Mom October 9, 2013 at 9:57 pm

              But, Another Anon, what you and the first Anon don’t seem to want to accept is that the many adult trans people i know who are happy and content “have a perspective based on real-life experience of transition and what happens a few years down the line”, too. And before we proceeded with any physical intervention for my son at all, we read everything we could find on this pro vs con, and i had already found some of these anti-trans blogs, and i can assure you there are a lot more folks out there who are happy with their transition than those who have regrets. So if you’re trying to convince me (or any other parent) based on anecdotal evidence that what i’m doing for my son is wrong or that i should rethink it, it’s just not going to work, because that sort of evidence is stacked so high against you. Not to mention the fact that i know and trust my own child and his intelligence, experience, and sense of self.

              • Another Anonymous Person October 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm

                Actually, I do believe that many adults have happily transitioned.

                I don’t think we have any accurate numbers on regrets or how many people choose something other than transition. The studies on trans issues are unfortunately limited (we really need more info on general health concerns in this area for everyone, happy or unhappy) and there is a great deal of social pressure to not speak up if you are unhappy after transition. It is hard enough to come out as trans, going back to tell people you want to go back is just as hard or harder. In addition, some people put pressure on those who retransition to be quiet or at times insult them. Retransitioners are very brave people who don’t have get the support they need.

                So in the end, we don’t know what the percentages are. We do know that it works for some people.

                The important thing is that from what evidence we do have, there are least some adults who have gone through a transition with surgery and then regretted it or even committed suicide.

                My opinion is that because of this, with children, we should wait.

                The other thing we need to remember is that the studies of outcomes are all, all done on people who transitioned as adults.

                • Trans*forming Mom October 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm

                  My opinion is that because of this, with children, we should wait.

                  Wait until they take their own life due to depression and anxiety because of severe dysphoria and lack of family support? No thank you. You speak as someone who has clearly never known a transgender youth; possibly never known a transgender person. We don’t make kids wait until they are adults before we amputate limbs with malignant cancerous tumors; we don’t make kids wait to until they are adults to give them corrective surgery for severe scoliosis; and so on… Why is being transgender the one diagnosis that some folks wring their hands about and insist that parents absolve themselves of parental responsibility while the child suffers until they (maybe) make it to 18? My opinion is that people who don’t know what they are talking about shouldn’t try to pretend that they do.

                  • fullmetalfeminist October 11, 2013 at 5:56 pm

                    I just want to say that You. Rock. Seeing such fierce advocacy on the part of your son…it’s inspiring. Thank you.

                    If I had been able to access puberty blockers even, when I was 12 or 13, how different, how VERY different, my life could have been. Transitioning early enough that there were no obvious records around would have made a career in academia possible; instead, having to wait until I was 26 and in a position to manage it, has meant I’ve struggled since to escape poverty. We’re talking about lifelong damage by waiting to treat gender dysphoria. Anyone who argues against early treatment is arguing against trans people existing, because we know, we know, that young people who are prevented from transitioning kill themselves at a much higher rate than the population at large.

                    Now, unless someone is advocating that this is a good thing, I don’t see how any reasonable argument can be made that transition should be prevented. And realistically? People will transition anyway. Only they’ll do it with hormones off the Internet, without a doctor’s supervision, without any health care for any mental issues arising out of transition, they’ll be afraid to access health care for fear of being discovered “cheating”, and so on, and so on. There’s no advantage to anyone in preventing transition.

                    That there are people who “detransition” is absolutely true. I have some friends who have done so, and I’m glad for them, because the fact that it is possible to do means that the rest of us really are who we need to be. If we weren’t, we’d go back to what everyone wanted from us in the first place, which was societally-conforming presentation of AAB gender. It’s patent bullshit to suggest that there are “strong forces” in place to agitate against detransition. There are HUGE forces in place to prevent transition, to disparage transition, to disparage trans people. Anyone suggesting that it’s easy, and that changing back is much harder, is someone who shouldn’t be allowed to even write another word about trans-ness without meeting some actual trans* people.

              • Another Anonymous Person October 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm

                I also want to stress that gender clinics and mental health professionals in this area do not support surgery on minors.

                There are two major schools of thought – one says let the child live in the desired gender and make decisions about physical transition as an adult. I believe there is a Dutch clinic that sometimes allows hormones for minors, although they go through a process and don’t give them to everyone.

                The other school of thought says try to change the child’s gender identity and/or work with teens to resolve any other mental health issues like body dysmorphia and then see if they want to transition as an adult.

                This is not anecdotal evidence. This is the standard, approved procedure – wait to do surgery.

                In addition, I think parents need to know that there are some young people who are now saying that they think they transitioned too easily and for the wrong reasons. This may not apply to most transgendered people, but it is a viewpoint we should all be listening to.

                • Trans*forming Mom October 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

                  This is absolutely not true. It’s simply, utterly false. I don’t know where you are getting your information on what “gender clinics and mental health professionals” support and what the schools of thought are, but you’re just completely wrong. Even in the conservative Southern United States, where i live, there are mental health and medical professionals who support cross-sex hormone therapy for youth as young as 14 and irreversible surgical procedures for minors. My son is not some isolated case. Your ideas about “standard, approved” procedure are either based on outdated information, misinformation, or you are trying to be misleading.

                  In any case, as i’ve said before, this blog is a place of support and not a space for debate. If parents have questions they can do exactly what i did: research. They will find exactly what i did: people who have happily transitioned (and the medical and scientific support for this) as well as those who have detransitioned as well as those who are totally anti-transgender. Those parents can then choose to interpret that information and apply it to their child’s situation, just as i did.

  48. Educated Rita May 11, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Hello!
    I came across your blog from a link in a support forum in the UK. I am in Australia. We are parents of a child who identifies as trans and thank you for writing your blog. Your outreach is global and necessary and valued. Thank you for sharing and for being honest. Everything you write, even if it attracts criticism from people who, as you quite rightly say, DON’T know what they are talking about and who maintain a wilful ignorance based around misandry, prejudice and hate, you actually help parents and children you have never even met just by making outreach and intelligently and compassionately and honestly sharing your parenting journey.
    I have had my experiences with the rad fem brigade and I find their sentiments shocking and disturbing. They are about as helpful to the rights of the child or lgbtq avocacy as neo-Nazis. They are irrelevant and spiteful but unfortunately we have to share this earth with their ilk the same as we have to share it with criminals and racists. We just have to get on with things.
    It’s such a shame that their incredibly flawed world view caused you to doubt the essence of your portrayal of your parenting experience. Parents are told regularly, “support but don’t encourage” as if we are somehow responsible for causing a child to be trans or even gender variant. It’s nonsense. It’s the same crap as “Women with strong personalities cause their sons to be gay”. It’s just wrong on so many levels.
    While we know that it’s a fact that many children do desist with gender dysphoric feelings, it remains that many do not and puberty intensifies their feelings which leads directly to pathological issues such as depression, self harm, substance abuse and suicide If the “wait and see what happens in ten years time” method is applied. Because some lie and cheat their way through fast tracking to medicalization and then go on to regret it, they actually do a complete disservice, not only to themselves, but also to their fellow human beings who suffer through a denial of treatment because medical professionals are afraid to make a call. It’s a bit like denying social security benefits to all because some lie and cheat with false claims to benefits. The fact that some lie and cheat does not make the experience of others invalid. It just makes them dishonest. No one should rush in to surgery or hormone treatment but the process of engaging your child with hormones is incredilby difficult and fraught and requires great diligence and perseverance. Anyone who assumes a parent just shops around for this and accesses it easily or has the ability to rush into things or even force this on their child is just wildly ignorant of the realities.
    And anyone who assumes that as parents we don’t “listen” either is speaking from ignorance no matter how well meaning their intentions. We listen alright. We listen to everything and everybody. But where are all these wise people when a parent is sitting in the Emergency room when their child is admitted after another overdose? Do not underestimate the challenge of being able to listen to your child and trust that what they tell them is right for today. No-one can predict the future. No-one. We go with what we know at the time and what is available to us at that time and we take a calculated risk for the sake of a happy child and a child who will be around to see their own tomorrow.
    Please be assured that your outreach and your writing is helping many and part of the architecture of community building for people who are supportive of gender diverse and “non-conforming” kids and their families as well as trans kids and their families. We are here. We are a reality and we are not going anywhere. I have experienced a wealth of kindness and understanding and support. The “naysayers” we just have to endure like bad weather and viruses I’m afraid.
    We’re with you tooth and nail! You are a wonderful parent and an inspiration to many. Thank you for your bravery.

  49. Pingback: Another Visit Home | BecomingTheRealNicky

  50. Storm M. Silvermane May 13, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    You are a brave woman and mother. I wish I had a mother like you…

  51. kieranisawol May 28, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Reblogged this on kieranisawol and commented:
    This is a beautiful response to the radfem-vitriol-spewing that’s been going on. :)

  52. Joey August 25, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    So, during an innocent web browsing session a few weeks ago, I stumbled onto one of the sites that you mention in your post, which in turn led me here to your blog site.

    I have to say, the link here to your post was actually the only good thing that I discovered after a week or so of wading through the vitriol of the other site. I do make an honest effort to read opposing viewpoints but, really, how much acid can one person swallow before simply saying “enough”?

    I know your child’s story all too well. I know yours, too.

    I, like your child, tried so hard to “be a girl”. I was from a different era, though. I forced myself to try to fit in, to the point where I did get married and I did have children. I married a kind, compassionate, accepting man. Unfortunately, all of his kindness, all of his understanding and compassion, could never stop me from feeling like a gay man with him, which I’m not. I’m attracted to women and have been for as long as I can remember.

    When I initially came out, I came out as a stone butch lesbian, because, back then, it seemed like the only thing that fit. But guess what? I couldn’t have an effective lesbian relationship because they could never really understand my discomfort with my own body. Back in the 90’s, transgenderism still wasn’t understood very well. Heck, I didn’t even understand it, how could I expect someone else to?

    The icing on the cake came, though, was when my youngest child, at age 8, started to really display so many of the traits that I did at that age. I can’t describe how my heart hurt for my kiddo. What parent in their right mind would ever want their kids to go through this? Even though by this point I was aware of my GD, I still retained my female identity for my kids because I thought it was the best thing to do for them.

    I’ll admit, I wasn’t too proactive with my child’s GD. In all honesty, I didn’t really know what to do. So, I kind of sat back and waited to see how things would evolve, organically, because the last thing I ever wanted was the thought that maybe I somehow influenced my child to be this way. I tried to give my child as much of a gender-neutral upbringing as possible. My genetically female child ran the gender role gamut. This kid was an ace goalie from kindergarten up through high school, a blackbelt in tae kwon do by 8th grade, a talented sketch artist with a real eye for design, a fantastic cook, and someone who really, truly enjoys caring for children.

    It wasn’t much of a surprise for me, though, when my child, at the age of 18, came to me and told me that “she” was really a “he”.

    So I guess what I’m trying to explain, in a very long and convoluted way, is that you are absolutely on point with everything you have to say. This is coming from someone who has experienced this from both sides.

    All of your children are lucky have you as a champion for them. Thanks for sharing your experiences and know that it may very well help someone in the future.

    Keep up the good work. :)

    • Trans*forming Mom August 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Joey, thank you so much for this. I actually revisit that blog every once in a while, for i don’t even know what reason, and i saw that recently they had posted a screen shot from this blog again in yet another negative post about parents of trans kids. And, like you said, the vitriol is so toxic that one can only take so much. It’s so sad to think of you or any other trans person reading that stuff. I hope you don’t take it to heart.

      I would love to know more about you and your son.

      Thanks again, and warmest thoughts to you & yours,
      Karen

  53. fullmetalfeminist September 17, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Read every word, and all I can say, how I wish I’d had a mom like you when I was 12 or 13. How different could my life have been, had I had a mother who would support and do her best with me, rather than the one I got, who when I finally transitioned at 26, told me in a letter that a) I wasn’t to contact them (this held for 12 years), and b) it would have been easier for her if I’d died.

    I am envious of your son, who has a great mom. I hope he grows up to be an amazing man, who shows the same empathy and trying-to-get-it-ness that his mom has. :)

    • Trans*forming Mom September 17, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      My heart hurts for what you experienced and the things that were said to you in your greatest time of need. I’m happy that you are here now, well beyond that moment. I know the wounds from our parents are the deepest and never really heal. I think my having so many of my own is what spurs me to try to keep from inflicting them on my kids.

      Thank you for this. Much love.

  54. Pingback: Dustin Hoffman made me write this apology | Trans*forming Family

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