The Early “Daughter ” Years

4 May

Note to reader: My son was born female. I referred to him with female pronouns for the first 23 years of his life. For the last year, I have worked REALLY hard to erase those “qualifiers”. Therefore, I will always use male pronouns when referring to him- even when reporting on the past. And, as always, I will refrain from using our names to protect his anonymity.


My son was my firstborn. From the beginning he was intense….I mean the VERY beginning: confining me to the final 10 weeks of pregnancy to a bed rest designed to increase blood flow and growth to his undeveloped belly. After birth- his colic. He was single-minded and walked at 9 months ( what was God thinking?). At two, he refused to hold my hand…we compromised on his holding my clothing. He was scarily intuitive (announcing his sister’s birth in the middle of the night just before we called to announce it). He loved books -passionately. And cars. And a stuffed bear in a pink dress named Baby, that he referred to as, “he”. Then at four -HERE IT COMES!!!!- we had a knock-down, drag-out fight: NO MORE DRESSES!


I have always tried to be “open-minded”. I have always wanted to be reasonable. I am a special educator, so I am keenly aware of the importance of nurturing self-esteem and individuality in children. But I was also a mom that was mainstream. I went for what I believed to be downright logical: “There are only a few times in your life when I will MAKE YOU  (really? I said that then?! Ugh!) wear a dress. There are just sometimes when that is socially appropriate and necessary.” Okay, NOW I am gagging at the recalled lecture…to a four year old, no less. But then? I thought I was being really perfect. We strive for perfection, right Moms? Our kids are going to be AMAZING – and WE are the great moms that will see exactly that happens!


So he wore a dress to his preschool graduation, and his grandparent’s 50th anniversary party, and his elementary and middle school graduations, and his Bat Mitzvah (kinda forced THAT whole thing on him, too, come to think of it!). The other days were filled with high tops, shorts or jeans paired with t-shirts sporting Batman or tie dye. And then there was the most amazing, blonde, curly, silky long hair…cranked back into a ponytail EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS YOUNG LIFE. He was joyful, yet quiet. He excelled in school, but tried to disappear. I look back and think to myself , “Girl, you saw this coming!”


One Response to “The Early “Daughter ” Years”

  1. JD May 4, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    Reading about the early signs in your son’s life, I wonder if I would have wanted those from my trans daughter. As far as I can recall, there were no signs. Would it have made it easier for me to accept the transition? Would I have recognized the signs, or been willing to ackowledge them? There were no clothing issues, no playing with dolls or interest in anything feminine. But yet my daughter is adamant that the signs were there: she says she was sensitive, quiet, and gentle. But aren’t there lots of boys who can be described that way? Interestingly, through her eyes, these characteristics were her only ability to express her true self while she grew up. She was too afraid to try anything more evident.

    Turning back the clock, my son was born 23 years ago, and seemed to enjoy all things that boys liked to do: army play, action figures, rocket building, models, RC cars, paintball, BB guns, and fishing. There was absolutely no sign to me that he was transgender female. So, about 6 months ago when he came out to my husband and I as trans, we were in the biggest shock of our lives. My mind was spinning with the information as I dialed back and forth through the past to match the term “trans female” with the son I had raised. Nothing came up. I was baffled, confused, frightened. He talked to us about it for several hours, as I asked questions and continuously brought up past behavior. How could he have hidden it so well? Fear. So much fear. Fear of rejection and hatred. But my husband and I could never ever have turned away from our child, trans or not. And we have not.

    But it hasn’t been easy for her and for us. Not because we don’t love each other, but because we miss our son and we have so many concerns about our daughter’s health, safety and personal happiness. So much has happened in 6 months, and every day feels like a challenge for us and for our daughter. But I agree that our kids will be amazing. Look at the courage and the strength it takes to announce to your world that you are transgender. You risk so much by doing so, but even more by not doing so.

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