Grieving the Loss

18 Nov

I was re-reading a newspaper article that I had hung onto from last July. The author shared her feelings of loss in an Op-Ed piece. Her husband of 13 years had transitioned to female. The author explained that the “weirdness” of her situation didn’t appear to easily dissipate. She said that strangers asked personal questions. While she was grieving the loss of her husband, her former spouse was celebrating a new identity.

We moms of transgender kids often experience the same thing: our children often are thrilled with the actuality of their new found selves. They are “all about them”; the world revolving around all things new and free. Suddenly no longer held captive in a dishonest narrative, many of our children can become…well…”over the top”. Not all, but many may flaunt the new “them”. This hurts us as we try to stand by and support them. Among all their joy, we are missing what we thought was a perfectly wonderful and acceptable previous identity. It’s  hard to take be in the midst of such joy when we alone are grieving and aching.

The writer, Lisa Jaffe Hubbell, shared that we join a club of sorts…”those who have lost husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers in a way that can only be compared to death but isn’t. All we can do is manage the pain, ignore the wide-eyed stares and inconsiderate comments, and hope for grace and serenity.  We are forced to applaud with so many others what it takes to come out as trans, to live an authentic life. But we only know the courage it takes to redraw what gets erased.”

But the pain DOES dissipate. Since it has now been more than four years since I learned of my (now) son’s new identity and transition, I rarely consider my own loss. Instead, when reading or hearing about this very REAL and COMMON experience for the parents and loved ones of transgender children, I stop to measure my own feelings: while I am aware that I no longer experience the pain and grief of the loss of the child I once knew, I instead, recognize where I now find myself on this journey’s continuum:  acceptance and  gratitude.

My son lives two states away, so our visits are rare and always far to brief for this mom! I just saw my son and his family this past weekend. Any angst I felt in leaving were because I long to see him more frequently and leaving means another long stretch without the connection sharing the same physical space can only bring. I left my son knowing (and relishing in this realization!) that he made the right decision to transition! My son is healthy in a way in which I have never before seen- regardless of gender! He takes care of his health and lives an incredibly balanced life: making time for his passion (reading), carving out spiritual time, challenging himself with work, planning joy-filled activities with family and friends; building a relationship with a fabulous partner. He appears very present in his everyday actions and decisions. He inquires earnestly about others and has become an active listener. But most of all, he appears HAPPY! To say I am impressed with the way in which he conducts his life is an understatement! I am so incredibly grateful for his well-being!

So, my dearest mothers, take all the time you need to grieve for your children. My prayer for you is simple: May you find courage to stand in the pain as your support your transitioning child and reap the joy of his or her successes down the road!

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59 Responses to “Grieving the Loss”

  1. stacy November 22, 2015 at 1:28 am #

    This article really hits home for me, took a while to understand that what i was going through was the grieving process! Even though our children are still with us it does take time to come to terms with the fact that what you have envisioned for your child since the day they were conceived, is not what they are going to be. I love my son with all of my heart and hope that all of his dreams come true, even as i miss the little girl that i gave birth to.
    My son just got his first T injection one week ago. As happy as this makes him it still gave me just a small pause, thinking that this is it, no shopping for the prom dress or wedding gown or being in the delivery room when my oldest has her first child? Guess we will shop for the tux?
    Thank you for supporting all of us moms as we support our kids and for reminding us all that it is ok to miss them as they transition into themselves.

    • transmom November 23, 2015 at 1:12 am #

      I’m so happy that this piece connected with you, Stacy!
      When you mentioned your son’s first shot of “T”, I was pulled back to the time my own daughter shared her decision to begin hormone therapy. We were on the phone and she was filling me in on this latest chapter of her transition (this is feeling terribly weird and foreign even writing about my son as once female!) Until that point, I had secretly hoped that her trying to “pass” as male for the previous 6 months would “be enough”…or better yet, would NOT resonate as her truth. But that wasn’t the call I was receiving…instead, here was the call I knew had been coming all along: this WAS authentic and the next step was here: Testosterone. After I hung up the phone, I walked past a mirror and said aloud to myself, “Life will never again be the same”. In fact it hasn’t. I am a better mother for this journey. I no longer mourn or even wonder “what if”. He’s fabulous and I’m a lucky mom! I know you will be the same, too, Stacy!

    • Michele April 7, 2016 at 8:44 am #

      I cry with each message I read. I guess for me and by the sound of it so many others. That feeling of loss. I feel I can’t get past it.

      • transmom April 7, 2016 at 8:17 pm #

        The feeling of loss is one we all seem to share as others, but, believe me, it DOES disappear in time! We cannot remain in a state of loss if we learn to focus on the NEW LIFE that is unfolding and the promise of contentment for our children!!

  2. Shoosh November 25, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    My daughter(who is rejecting the binary, is having the first t injection today at 23. Your words bring me great comfort.

    • transmom November 26, 2015 at 4:28 am #

      Dear Shoosh- I’m happy you are able to find comfort in my words! Thanks for taking the time to read. The best to you as you see the changes over the next months…not always easy being such a supportive momma! Good for you!! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. joanne2sons November 26, 2015 at 4:59 am #

    Once again you hit the nail on the head with your “Grieving Loss” post. It is so true, and at one of my recent support group meetings, some of the teens expressed themselves almost exactly like your article described!! It was as if you were there!!! Are you a mind reader?? 🙂 Thanks for your wonderful & timely post!!!
    With the holidays approaching, lots of emotions are starting to surface. I was very sad when our new son informed us that he was going to stay up at college this Thanksgiving as he had “too much school work to do”. I couldn’t help wondering if there was also some anxiety about coming back home for the first time since he had informed us that he was a transgender male. He’s planning to come home in December, as his housing situation closes during Winter break, so he doesn’t really have any other place to stay. He hasn’t voiced any fear about coming home, it’s all in my imagination. Both his Dad & I are supportive of his new identity and doing our best to use the correct pronouns and name. I plan on asking him if there is anything he would like me to do before he comes home for Christmas. Luckily, the Christmas stockings we have were NEVER personalized! Our son has given me the thumbs up on my latest Christmas newsletter, so that is a big relief! My latest analogy for this journey is that I’m going on a trip to Transgenderland, a destination I had never thought I’d venture to. My GPS doesn’t always work, and the map is in a foreign language, and sometimes I make a wrong turn and get lost…then I go to my support group or my therapist or read a post on your blog site, and then I’m back on track!! 🙂 Have a Happy Thanksgiving!! I’m so grateful for your blog! 🙂

    • transmom December 1, 2015 at 3:30 am #

      Awww- you made my day!! I LOVE your analogy!! I will pass along, if you don’t mind!! and you even got me thinking about my next post- dealing with the holidays!! Thanks!! Keep traveling, friend!!

      • joanne2sons December 3, 2015 at 4:57 am #

        Feel free to use any of my analogies that I have shared with you. (Trip to Transgenderland and or my learning how to swim analogy) Every time I attend one of my support group meetings, I always mention your blog site, and encourage other parents to read your posts. At one of my previous support groups, I asked a creative way to tell people about your transgender child. Someone mentioned a birth retraction that a mother of a transgender child had posted in their local paper, so I decided to incorporate something like that in my annual holiday newsletter. Even though some of my friends suggested that I not send out a Christmas card this year, I knew I could not do that. I’ve been sending out creative family holiday cards for 30 years, and I know people would wonder, why I hadn’t sent out a card this year…and besides I’m NOT ashamed of my new son. I’m proud of him for having the courage to be himself and I love him very much. As part of my Christmas Newsletter this year, I decided to do a newspaper classified ads with miscellaneous family news which also included a birth retraction announcement for our new son. I sent him the draft copy, and he made a few slight changes to the wording of my announcement, but he was basically happy with it. I did think it was interesting that he didn’t want me to use his former name or birth gender in the birth retraction announcement. When I mentioned this at my support group, they talked about dead naming…a term I had never heard before. It looks like my journey continues, and my GPS is working again! 🙂 Last night a new person attended the support group and it was someone I knew, but had not seen for a few years!!! I think we both were surprised to see each other! Talk about a small world. You never know whom you will meet when traveling to Transgenderland. I’m glad I have another friend to join me on this journey.

      • transmom December 4, 2015 at 2:19 am #

        It is an amazing community- allowing each of us to land where we need to and work from there: some of us taking on more daring experiences that are much more outside the social norm and others just taking in and accepting as much as we can – each of us in our individual time frames! No judgement- we are all just moms that love our kids and want to be there for them throughout their life’s journey!! Thanks for continuing to be so generous of spirit, Joanne 2 sons- I know you are giving so much to the parents in your group as well as your family and son!!

  4. Bogwoppit December 2, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    I hope in not intruding, but I found this site and this post whilst looking online to try and understand what changes in my life may cause my parents to feel. I’m scared that I’m going to hurt them, no matter how well everything looks on the surface. I understand it may well happen, or it may not, but to know it may not be a forever pain is giving me hope.
    I’m just so glad to find there are outlets and support on a personally handled level, that I can feel safe to share with my mum. For her to look at words like yours without it being clinically written and without me there. Thank you for your approach, and thank you for your dedication to it.

    • transmom December 3, 2015 at 4:28 am #

      HI Bogwoppit! Here’s the deal: we ALL hurt folks during our lifetimes- this is not trans-exclusive! We have to make choices as INDIVIDUALS that impact those around us and there are times when these personal decisions conflict with the people we love. That’s life. With that said, I love how concerned you are about your mum – so much so that you are seeking out support and worrying about her in advance! What a blessing you are to your mum! (you can have her read this when she is feeling down!!)Not many kids think of doing this because they are so freaked out with this HUGE transformation that they are more about themselves that this time (which is incredibly understandable and reasonable). There are things that my son did for me that I hope you will consider doing for your mom:
      1- sit down with her face to face and own your reality and share what ever you can
      2- let her know you understand that this will be challenging, scary, and a PROCESS for her and she has her OWN timeline!
      3-Let her know that you NEED her support and that her love is really the most important thing to you as you go forward
      Great good luck to you, Bogwippit!!You are AWESOME!!!

  5. Laura Solano December 8, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

    Wow so glad I found this site. My former daughter started the transition to male back in March 2015. Unknown to my ex and me, “she” started hormone therapy (she was 19). Now after a double mastectomy in July, a full hysterectomy is scheduled for early January. This process has been a difficult one for me for many reasons, but one thing I never doubted is my love for my child. I broke the news to my parents over Thanksgiving, and much to my surprise, they were even more supportive than I was! I am hoping the hysterectomy will provide a faster transition for him because up to this point, things have been a little slow.

    Once healed from the surgery, he plans to move to Washington State. It’s important for him to get out on his own and start his life with this new identity.

    I am appreciative of this site and will use it as a way of support as the mother of a transgender child. I’m finding out it’s not as uncommon as I thought it was.

    • transmom December 11, 2015 at 2:44 am #

      Hi Laura! I am so happy you found my site, too!! This is not an easy journey, but you are making advances and “traveling” it WELL! My son has found a great support system in the state of Washington so I pray the same for your boy! and just so you know- it wasn’t until the second year on T that my son REALLY looked like the man he does today!! I was so surprised to see significant changes after a year!! Great good luck to you!

  6. Jackie January 19, 2016 at 9:52 pm #

    Reading these posts has brought me so much comfort, you have no idea. Our daughter told us in August that she is transgender. I think I am still grieving, but trying to do the right thing. She told us to take our time and process all this, but she is moving at such a fast pace and her dad and I are still numb. I have called her by her given name for 23 years, how do I change overnight? Oh, and our relationship, down the toilet. Nothing I say or do is right and she has so much anger. I’m just not getting it. Perhaps, I’ll just back off and see what happens. Jacob is in NY at school and we live in California.

    • transmom January 20, 2016 at 1:27 am #

      Hi Jackie! You are doing the right thing: assessing where you are in this process while understanding that your child needs space and time to do the same. No one has the same transition experience- not the child transitioning and not the parents and family members that are along for that journey! It is different for each of us! Now, the challenge is for each of us to respect those feelings and to avoid having expectations about what that process is exactly going to look like. For many, unfortunately, it is messy. I liken it to a divorce: some folks seem to be able to talk it through, stay in contact, and remain civil- while others somehow NEED to break away and behave in ways that folks who once loved each other would never have behaved prior. Maybe it is because that transition is so difficult that the ripping apart from the old makes way for the new? Perhaps that’s what some folks require. I do know, however, that YOU get to choose how YOU react! You feel your pain and whatever else you feel…but I would hope, react in ways that mirror the unconditional love that you feel. It’s hard, but try not to get sucked into any drama or blame that may be thrown your way- by your child or bystanders who think they get to share an opinion on your journey! Stay the course: read, talk with those that have your back, find like-minded adults in a support group, read some more, reach out from time to time to your child to remind them you are still there, and keep reassuring yourself (even if you have to say it aloud in the mirror!) that you are a great mom and you are doing everything right. Hang in!! I am proud to stand with you!

      • Laura Solano January 21, 2016 at 12:00 am #

        This is so well said. I am having the same issues and feelings with my trans daughter (now a male). The journey is a difficult one at times, but definitely surround yourself with those who support you.

      • transmom January 25, 2016 at 1:02 am #

        Thanks, Laura! We moms have to remain alert to our needs along this journey with our kids!! So often we automatically think of others first…that is counter-productive! I believe we have so much more to offer others when we are emotionally strong!

  7. Nicola Hockey January 28, 2016 at 4:50 am #

    I have just found this site while looking for somewhere to talk about our situation. In April 2015, actually a week before our eldest daughter’s wedding, we dicovered that our 21 year old son, who has been at university 4 hours drive away from us, had attempted suicide twice and been hospitalised for drug and alcohol related psychosis. He desperately wanted help but before we could find rehab for him he had anothe suicide attempt. Finally the day after the wedding, which passed in a blur, we admitted him to a residential clinic. After 6 months of therapy and support he called me to say he had just come from his psychiatrists office and had told him he wasn’t a male he had always felt he was female. I wasn’t shocked, it all started to make sense, and he was so happy…..I felt that I had my child back….the sweet, funny, happy kid that he was before he started kindergarten and discovered that boys and girls were treated differently and expected to behave differently. His revelation to us about his high school years and the desperation he felt when he told his beloved first girlfriend at 15 how he was feeling – she told him he was a freak and dumped him. Made me feel so useless as a parent…..I missed it all. I knew he was different, worried about his isolation, he only had female friends…..meanwhile he was secretly drinking to wipe out his pain.
    We live in Australia, a small town on the south coast of Western Australia. Our son…..he is still happy to be our son for the time being, is moving to a new university to finish his studies and to transition mtf. We have driven across country to Sydney with him to settle him in to his new life. In a few days we will leave our son here and the next time we see him he won’t be our son he will be our third daughter. We love our child unconditionally but our grief is weighing on us. Exacerbated by the fact that we won’t be here to support his transition to the beautiful woman he will become. He is so excited and brushes off any advice or discussion we try to have about the process or our feelings in leaving him here. We have always been a very close family and it is hard to imagine not have one of ours close by at such a huge time, Anyway…..I’ve shed a few tears writing this down and strangely feel a bit better knowing there are others out there who will understand that while I am thrilled for my child, my heart is breaking a little bit too.

    • transmom February 1, 2016 at 2:17 am #

      I’m so happy you have shared your story, Nicola! You have gone through such difficult times and it is helpful to all the parents reading here to know that even under such incredible stress, you remained a champion of your child! I am relieved to read that your son is now safe and healthy!

      I am reminded how painful it is to love your child so much- only desiring to do what is right and helpful- and later find out that we as parents can “miss” what may have been important times or opportunities. Yet, we can only deal with what we know in the moment. We have to forgive ourselves our shortcomings and continue to do our best. You have done just that!
      Your son’s willingness to “go this alone” and his excitement is all about his finally getting to lead an authentic life. He also is buoyed knowing he has your love with him in his back pocket with him at all times!!
      Good luck to each of you!!

      • Nicola Hockey February 1, 2016 at 3:09 am #

        Thank you for your kind words. Yes, we can only do what we can with the information we have at the time. I am so relieved to have found this forum of support and information from those who have gone or are going through the same things. My family and I have so much to learn and a long way to go …. sites like this are helping us find out way. Thank you again.

      • transmom February 1, 2016 at 11:31 pm #

        You are so welcome, Nicola!! Keep us posted!

    • momalways March 25, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

      I can not begin to express how much your post (and many of the others) means to me. We are in the very beginnings of this same journey. My son has always been very introverted and anxiety ridden. It has only be come clear to him, and also to us, that his gender identity was the cause of it. Now at the age of 27 he is going to start hormone treatments.

      I missed it all too. We had sent him to doctors and offered to help in anyway we could, but never knew the core issue until now. He also had a girlfriend for a while, and never had (what I would have thought were) the “usual signs” of cross dressing or anything. But he said, that was because he just couldn’t face it himself, and did what he could to deny it.

      Like you and others, the mixed emotions are both hard and confusing. I want him to be whoever he needs to be, and we support him unconditionally, I was basically fine during all our talks until he said he would (understandably) be changing his name. That is when I broke down. I know “a rose by any other name…” but that is when I realized that there is our grief involved with his celebration.

      Thank you for expressing your thoughts and experience, and I know I will be back to read moreo n this wonderful site.

      • transmom March 27, 2016 at 11:57 pm #

        dear momalways,
        I am not at all surprised that you broke down upon hearing/realizing that your son would change his name! It’s like a crash course in reality all in one statement!! Not saying your child’s name is probably THE most difficult transition for us moms! That and the pronouns are killers!! When I started crying during my son’s (then daughter’s) disclosure, I explained that it was not about him, but rather my fear in what all this change would entail. And that I worried about my sharing our same relationship with him as a son….little did I know that THOSE were almost easy compared to calling him by the correct gender!
        You may want to consider warning your son that even if you “mess up” with gender and name, you ARE trying…to please be patient with your transition into learning how to be HER best parent!
        Meanwhile, blessings to you and your incredibly lucky daughter as she finds herself!!

      • momalways March 28, 2016 at 12:21 am #

        Dear transmom.

        Simply. Thank you.

      • Nicola March 28, 2016 at 3:21 am #

        Dear momalways
        I know how hard this is, I also am fine with everything, my transitioning son is taking things very slowly…..so like him….. He has moved away and taking small steps. To his online friends and new friends he wants to have his new name and pronouns used. But with his family he still wants us to use his birth name and pronouns. He was named for my much loved grandfather and his disabled uncle and feels sad himself about losing those contacts. I guess he will sort it out and I have told him to let us know when he wants us to change. My emotions are all over the place, He sent me his first photo presenting as female the other day and I cried because he was so beautiful but I could still see my child in there. We spoke on the phone both very emotional as he realised his father and I truly do support him. My husband and I are practicing at home using his new name and pronouns so that when he is ready we can be prepared….ha…both retired teachers, we are planners. All I can say is cry when you need to but try to keep a sense of humour as well, we are just so happy our child is alive, healthy and happy. Everything else is a bonus!

      • transmom March 30, 2016 at 2:55 am #

        I got chills reading your note, Nicola! Being “present” enough to be appreciative that your child is alive, healthy and happy is HUGE!! You are absolutely right – nothing else really matters! If we can just get out of our own way, we can acknowledge what is important and celebrate our children. And with that love and support behind them, our children can, in turn, love themselves!

  8. budski3 February 6, 2016 at 3:16 am #

    Dear Nicola,
    I feel for you so much – I found out that my son had been ‘cutting’ himself on his arms, wrists and neck, had been hospitalised and was involved with psychiatrists – he like your son was also at university and living away. He told me that he had always felt he was female not male, had been taking female hormones for the past 2 years, changed his name and has been living as a woman, unknown to me. He had always been a kind and gentle soul, but I had no idea that he felt like this, he had never mentioned anything to me before, but he had been miserable and sad for some time before moving out of home. He is having surgery this year to transform he tells me, I will not be with him, he is going with a friend to another country to have this done.
    On the plus side he is a different person now that he has decided what he should do. Like your son he is very excited and so happy about it all, won’t listen to any advice especially from me. If this change gives him the life he needs, then I am pleased that he is so committed to it, he has researched it all thoroughly and I’m impressed with the detail he has gone into. It is so hard to share their happiness, I know, when we are grieving our loss at the same time. Good luck with your journey.

    • Nicola Hockey March 28, 2016 at 3:42 am #

      Sorry budski3, have only just got back to this. It’s quite a journey we are on. Like you I am so happy for my child. He still wants us to use his male name and pronouns but not new people he is meeting. He is a long way away from us so I guess he feels like it’s OK for now. After a fast start he is now taking things slowly, one step after another….this is so like him, and he is sending me regular photo updates so his changes aren’t a shock. He is currently debating freezing some sperm in case he one day wants a family. He has delayed hormone treatment till this is resolved. I’m so proud of him… He is showing a new maturity now that he is able to be his authentic self. I still cry sometimes but we are all trying to keep our sense of humour as well….for my previously depressed son …. That’s fantastic!

      • Laura March 30, 2016 at 2:52 pm #

        Hi Nicola and All:

        This is such a relief to have a forum to post in where folks are involved with the same issues I am. My child (now a male) has gone through the double mastectomy and full hysterectomy and has this past month gotten most of his documentation changed to reflect his new gender. I’ve found that using his new name (he changed his last name too) and calling him by his chosen gender has been fairly easy which surprises me. I really don’t trip up much anymore, but at times it still happens. He is very patient and understanding. It’s been a tough journey at times since June 2015, and a new one at that. I always remind myself that although I am part of the journey, it isn’t really MY journey. My prayers will be answered if my son is happy, healthy and productive.

      • transmom April 4, 2016 at 7:13 am #

        Thanks for writing, Laura! You certainly are in a positive place- your son is blessed to have him in your corner!! Thanks for being a role model here for so many others !!

  9. MomOfMTF April 9, 2016 at 4:58 pm #

    I am just starting this journey and am completely confused. I get the technical portion. Having done plenty of reading and research. I love my husband and children desperately. In January, my youngest son (age 17) came to me to tell me that he wanted to be a female. I was not entirely surprised by his reveal as he has never been comfortable in his own body. He is not a typical boy and never has been. We spent hours talking that night about his feelings, dreams and goals. Though I was, and am, supportive, I just feel at a loss as to how to help him.

    A couple weeks following his reveal to me, he told his father. Again, dad was not surprised entirely. However, I don’t think his father has accepted it yet. He fears that this is just a phase and anything permanent would be regretted down the road. Dad is, I believe, in denial. I’ve tried to share some of the things I’ve learned, and share things for him to read, but he has not taken that step yet.

    My child has indicated that he wants to start HRT asap in order to get the best benefit. According to his research, starting before the end of puberty elicits the best results as it will reform your body a bit to make it more feminine. He is choosing not to reveal to his peers (except his very closest friends) until after graduation as we live in a VERY conservative community that just would not accept this change. His father and I are also teachers in this community and, he has indicated, that he wants to be fair to us too.

    He has been in therapy for years for various issues, including two suicide attempts, depression, anxiety and substance abuse. I have felt that I’m on the edge of losing my son on several different occasions. Now, I am faced with losing him again, permanently. I get it. He will be the same person, just in a different package. I just don’t know what to feel or how to best support him. It is selfish on my part to want to hold on to the little boy I’ve raised. I don’t know how to be a mom to a daughter.

    All this being said, I will stand up and support my son as he transitions into Katelyn, if that is what he ultimately chooses to do. I will learn how to be her mom and friend. Thank you for creating this site and the sharing that is taking place here. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in this journey.

    • transmom April 11, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

      Dear Mom of MFT,
      My heart goes out to you at this difficult time!! It is so challenging in so many ways, isn’t it?!! You have watched you child struggle again and again, and you are now at yet another struggle! No wonder your husband worries that this is just another one of “those” struggles that your child will work through. I get that!

      As a parent that has been down this road with an adult child, I was in a position to simply trust my child in their determination of identity. But I think it is different for you: you have a child with a history of emotional conflict and your child is still a minor. After all of those struggles, THIS one – of his gender identity- MAY indeed, be the cause of all of his previous struggles! However, I think that needs to be determined by professionals that are skilled in this area. I urge you to seek that help…it will help each of you in your own process!!
      I know from your loving description that you will find the way to be the mother that your child needs!! You’ve got this!!

  10. anonymous mom of ftm April 15, 2016 at 4:36 am #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I finally found a place online for support that acknowledges how we as parents are feeling after our FTM child admitted to us last night that she has been taking testosterone injections the past two months, which we suspected due to the changes in her facial appearance and voice (already!). S/he of course is super excited and “over the top” with all of it, and we are physically ill with grief and worry–about her health, what her life will be like, that she is too young to be making such a mostly permanent life-altering decision, how this will affect her in college and for a career, and the loss of what had been our very beautiful daughter. Every time I see her high school graduation photo I cry, it is absolutely a death in every sense–she will not be who she was, I cannot call her a her/she, I cannot use the name I lovingly and deliberately gave her and that she has rejected completely (I could have dealt better with a masculinization of her birth name, or a gender neutral name like Pat, or Terry, or Ray! Her personality has changed, her appearance, everything. And when she changes her birth certificate after top surgery , which will be the likely next step the child I birthed will no longer exist. Can someone help me understand why the compulsion to externally gender, why just being “butch” lesbian wasn’t ‘good enough’, if feeling masculine/male gender identity?

    • transmom April 19, 2016 at 12:28 am #

      Hello “anonymous mom of ftm”!! I am so sorry to know you are in pain!! But I AM here to say that, in my experience, THIS PAIN WILL PASS!! When you love your child, you will make room in your heart and in your psyche for all of this!! I know if sounds as if this is not possible given how you presently feel, but it IS true!! Keep taking deep breaths and try to remember that you are NOT alone: there are thousands of us moms that have come before you!!

      Here’s the real deal: (and I had the same question- why can’t butch be “good enough”?!!) When a person changes their gender, they are NOT changing their sexual orientation!! We have always thought of these things synonymous, but they are not one in the same!!

      Your daughter identifies as a male- when she appears over the moon with excitement about these new physical changes being caused by testosterone, it is because she is FINALLY able to see the physical “line up” with what she has always KNOWN about herself as an individual. She is finally seeing her reality as it SHOULD BE!! The possibility of this truth can elicit incredible joy!!
      This reaction can be absolutely confounding to us as moms- we are dealing with a different reality altogether!! We see our child as whole and perfect as they are so WE don’t want (or MORE IMPORTANTLY don’t need) them to change. But this is where we learn to let go!!

      We give a name to a child before we actually know them. It’s our gift to them- they have no REAL tie to it. And honestly, if that name has actually caused our child pain because it represents just one of the factors that has kept them from living more comfortably, then they NEED to let it go!!! The ability to change their name to one that matches with whom they will become is an ESSENTIAL part of the journey!!

      THIS IS NOT A COMPULSION! THIS IS A NECESSITY!!

      Your daughter experiences living a lie everyday. She wants to be happy and honest and walk around simply and truthfully. That truth is, absolutely, a profound change- but it is hers to make!

      Here’s where the mothering part will set in: eventually, you will accept that you did NOT give birth to a child in order to mold her into what YOU wanted. You didn’t give birth to dictate her life decisions. You DID bring a child into the world in the hope that one day she would grow to be self- sufficient and successful enough to go out into the world independently. She is doing that- just not under the same conditions as you had hoped or dreamed. But if you can work on getting down to what is best for your child, you will see that it is more important to walk beside her, support her and celebrate HER reality than it is to remain in pain over something that really has never been your choice!

      We are hear for you as you make those choices and learn that acceptance is love!!

  11. anonymous mom of ftm April 15, 2016 at 4:51 am #

    We are just starting down this road, and I feel like my husband and I will never get over the loss, the grief, the pain, and frankly–when it comes to dealing with his side of the family at least, embarassment–the inevitable judgment and smirks of his siblings at our “failure” as parents, because in their view there MUST be something we did/didn’t do.

    • transmom April 19, 2016 at 12:37 am #

      I understand that for so many parents- especially fathers- there is a great deal of shame. We always seem to want to “blame” someone.

      Caitlyn Jenner’s psychologist was my psychologist when I first learned that my daughter was transitioning to become male. Here’s something that she told me: YOU DID NOTHING WRONG!! This is NOT about parenting- good or bad. This is NOT about something you failed to do or somehow “promoted”.

      This is your kid. PERIOD!! This is how they arrived in this world. This is how they are wired. This is WHO they are. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU AS A PARENT!!

      Now getting poorly informed and ignorant family members to stop blaming you is a real challenge for MANY families. But once YOU own that this is real for your kid and what your kid deserves to be happy, you will be able to take on the naysayers in defense of the child you love. Please don’t allow yourself to be bullied by folks that don’t know what they are talking about!! Read up on transgender, how to best disclose to family and friends and what to say. Check out some of the books on my resource page. Practice with one another what to say. Try to laugh when you make mistakes in using the new name and pronouns- allow yourself to be human in this new beginning!! If you can “lighten up”- others will too!!
      Just remember: this is for your child!! This may be life or death- soooo many-tooo many of our transgender kids take their own lives because they do not feel safe to be themselves…so think of coming to your child’s rescue!! You would do that- so you CAN do this!!

  12. momalways April 19, 2016 at 1:41 am #

    My MTF child is starting HRT on Tuesday. I understand what ‘anonymous mom of ftm’ is saying. The name change is really hard, and while the child may have thought, fantasized, and hoped for this for a long time, it is a shock to us parents. Not to mention our fears for their safety and health.

    BUT last week I made a list of the things that meant the most to me about my child. It included many things like creativity, compassion, sensitivity, humor, etc. I discovered that very few, if any, of the things I cherished about my child were gender connected! So they will all still be there male or female.

    The logistics of how and when to tell family members (especially those that are not close to the situation) is still up in the air. But I have found a local PLAG group that I will connect with to direct my efforts to political and social changes that will help future trans and parents. And hope that I will also find help and support for our present situation.

    Our (adult) child is 800 miles away from us, so the changes will happen in jumps and starts for us, and using the pronouns and name will not be a daily practice, so I expect to stumble. But I have already warned my child that when he presents as female at work he should expect a 28% pay cut as a female… okay a bad joke, but we are trying to use humor to help.

    anonymous mom of ftm, I give you hugs and wish you (and your husband) strength and know you are not alone. When we held these babies in our arms the day they were born they became ours forever and always – not just our girl , not just our boy, but our child.

    • transmom April 19, 2016 at 4:44 am #

      You are FABULOUS, Momalways!! You NAILED it! This is a VERY difficult road- a super challenging time for a parent to navigate- trying desperately to show a positive face while being incredibly fearful inside!!
      I LOVE your recommendations for success:
      ** Embrace humor!! A good sarcastic laugh will help lighten the moment and give us perspective!! My “go to” was: “I always told her she could be whatever she wanted…I didn’t really mean MALE!!”
      **Reach out! Finding LGBT groups REALLY helps!! There are not many of us that know anyone in our unique circumstances!! This is NOT at all like having a gay or lesbian child…everyone knows someone gay so there is little understanding out there for our particular fears and frustrations!! Try to find support groups that are open to transgender parents as they WILL be supportive!! PLAG was a great start for me as well!
      ** Making a list of what you love about your child is an AWESO<E way to focus on the positives that will ALWAYS be there…the body and appearance might change- but the spirit, straights and character will remain!!
      Thanks for your insights, Momalways!! We learn and cope with one another!!

      • momalways April 19, 2016 at 10:53 am #

        And thank you for this forum. It really is a refuge for us moms. We need each others support while we support our children.

  13. joanne2sons April 23, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    As always, I am so grateful for this forum. It’s been about 9 months since I found out that II had a transgender son. It’s definitely been a journey for all of us, even with our support and unconditional love of our new son — I still find myself on an emotional rollercoaster. Friends, family, support groups and visits to a counselor have helped me on this journey. Last week, my son had his “1st birthday”. I gave birth to a daughter 22 years ago, and of course I had no idea what the future had in store for us! I was an emotional basket case last week, as I kept thinking about the little girl whom I gave birth to back in 1994. Then to add to the emotions, one of my good friend’s daughter had a baby girl the day prior to my son’s 1st birthday! All the pictures and comments just brought a flood of emotions to me. We talked to our son on his birthday, as he is away at college, and he seemed in good spirits. He was very pleased with the gifts we had sent him. He’s excited about his upcoming graduation, but of course I’m still worried about his future. I know I’d be worried about his future even if he weren’t trans, but that just adds another dimension to it. Thanks again for your wonderful blog. Although everyone’s journey is slightly different — I always seem to gain insight into this complicated situation.

    • transmom April 27, 2016 at 11:41 pm #

      Thanks for your update, Joanne2sons!! Yup- even though 9 months passes- the tears can still come- and they may still come in the following months/years. Our expectations, hopes and dreams for our children seem to “die hard”…we not only gave birth to that “other” gendered child, but we gave birth and assigned each one of those expectations as well. Our experiences with our children in those first years have SO MANY of our dreams attached- and they are happily embedded in our memories. I have found that those really vivid feelings come back in a rush on such events as you are describing with your son’s graduation. Now, after 4 plus years as the mom of a son, I am thrown when that happens. I try to understand why I had those feelings and just appreciate that I had the opportunity to know my child then and know the new form of them now. Yup, not expected, but completely loved and welcomed!! Not always completely understood, but forever accented and protected in my heart!
      Just keep being the fabulous mom that you are: worrying, fretting, and celebrating every step of the way!!!

  14. budski3 April 24, 2016 at 3:49 am #

    Last week I saw my 24 year old son off on an overseas flight with his best friend. I watched him stride away without looking back, while I was choking up inside with the realisation that I was finally letting my beautiful son go for good, he will be away for a month.
    Its been a rocky 3 years since he told me he was transgender, me being horrified and not understanding or wanting to, him telling me how desperately unhappy he was, how unauthentic his life was as a male, how he couldn’t go on as he was any longer, how he was going to transition. I found myself crying and saying crazy things like couldn’t you just be gay, you could just cross dress, just have upper surgery etc. He said if people find out you are male when you dress and act as a woman they will bash or kill you or you’ll kill yourself with the shame of it all, he said he had to transition to female. He explained that he wasn’t interested in women he was jealous of them, because they were allowed to be all that he was, but couldn’t be.

    It was 2 years in of me crying, not believing it was true and him cutting himself and seeing psychiatrists – when I found this site and read so many wise words written by Transmom and all the wonderful people who have been writing on this site. THANKS DIRECTLY TO YOU, instead of turning away from my son as I was desperately trying to do, I took a deep breath one day and said “How lucky am I, to have a son for 24 years and now to have a daughter all in the same package”. It was hard for me to do, but I could see he was relieved and we both laughed.

    He was so DRIVEN to transition, I knew nothing would stop him. The worst part for me was dealing with relatives, friends and neighbours who could be so cruel and harsh with their words and yes, saying it was all my fault. I knew that wasn’t true, but none the less their barbs stung me repeatedly making me feel useless and pathetic. In retrospect signs had been there early on, but imperceptible to us, he was always in trouble at school for playing with girls not boys, but of course he actually was a girl so it was natural to him etc.

    Today he’s having gender reassignment surgery and facial feminisation. I’m praying all goes well. Texted earlier saying “I’ll be thinking of you, love you, will be holding your hand so you’re not afraid”, had a text back saying “Thanks for everything mom, I love you” with a row of hearts, so maybe we’ve got there. I do hope so, we’ve both tried our best and had, very tough times but plenty of laughs on the way too and cider.

    It has been a long road, believe me, to the realisation that it is truly my dreams for him that are shattered, not his dreams.
    My insecurities that were challenged when dealing with harsh critics.
    My embarrassment when people, talked behind my back and were so condescending.
    My feelings for our past family that were so hurt, when he changed the name that his father (deceased) gave him.
    In fact it was more about me than her – I love her dearly and wish only for her happiness, but I was fearful for her and trying to hold her back, while she took everything that was slung at her on the chin and kept on going. I admire her so much.

    Its 11.45pm her friend just let me know she’s still in theatre having surgery, I’ll wait up until I hear she got through OK.

    Now I’m looking forward to meeting a daughter who is free, relaxed, content and true to herself. Who will smile and laugh more, who can get on with her life and live it to the full. Who is the beautiful soul she was meant to be and most important of all the wonderful authentic self that she has yearned to be for so long now.

    My love and thoughts go out to all the moms who write here. I hope in some small way by writing this, I can help some of you out there, in the same way that you have helped me.

    • transmom April 27, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

      Dearest budski3,
      You are amazing!! I have tears welling, just reading your story!! You are so honest and forthcoming!! I KNOW I am not the only mom that will benefit greatly from hearing that we, as moms of kids that are struggling to find peace, can work through our fears and step up for our kids!! We love our children in the face of face of these challenges!! This has been incredibly hard for you- but when it may have been easier to agree with those who doubted – you stood firm! And when YOU may have found relief to distance yourself from the trauma and drama that ensued…you DIDN’T!! You hung in there and focused on the well-being of your daughter! And because she recognizes that support, your relationship will continue and you will reap the joy in the coming years as a result of your devotion! Thanks for your frank disclosure of the difficult road you have traveled! Please keep us posted!!
      Until then- blessings to you and your daughter! May her surgery help he find the completeness she has been searching! May you continue to fight the noble fight- as you not only step out for your daughter, but now for other moms and for other transgender children!!

    • jill2day April 27, 2016 at 11:24 pm #

      Thank you, thank you , thank you for writing this. I am still at the beginning, so in some ways, the easy “theoretical” part. It really helps to hear about the realities yet to come. I just got off the phone with my child. They will be starting the mandatory therapy and testing next week. Our relationship (and dad’s too) is good and supportive from both sides, but it is still pretty private. I hope I will be as strong as you as the private becomes more public.

      • transmom April 27, 2016 at 11:30 pm #

        You will find the strength, Jill2day!! You are learning and loving- keep it up!!!

  15. tracy September 1, 2016 at 8:38 pm #

    I am so still at the beginning of beining a mom of FTM young adult. I was told,by my now son (he is at the begining as of yet there is no meds or talk of surgery), over 6 months ago and was travelling through it well using the correct pronouns until last week. I needed to deal with an issue that had to do with his partner. Long story short the conversation went places that it should not have. Now I really more than ever feel like I have lost my child. I try to go by his lead- doesn’t seem good enough, I find myself apologizing for feeling the way I do, that I have or will be losing a part of myself. I am scared for him because of the opinons of others and want to protect. I want to be apart of his life but feel like I am being pushed away. As far as I know there is no support group in my area that I can be a part of.

    I am thank-ful that i found your blog and could use some advise on how to go forward.

    I honestly don’t know what I should do anymore and I can’t seem to stop crying.

    • transmom September 8, 2016 at 12:09 am #

      Awww Tracy, You are really beating yourself up!! (Sadly, this is common among we caring moms!!) So much of this is out of your control.

      I know that this will seem harsh, but I would suggest you follow the feeling that you are most afraid of: being pushed away. Unfortunately, you need to honor his need (whatever the reason- and it probably has little to do with your relationship) to pull away.

      Whether it has been my FTM son or my cisgendered daughter, the most difficult parenting situations for me are those that involve my reluctance to step back, refrain from sharing my opinion, and (the most difficult) feeling that I am not needed. I’ll be honest: I am too needy when it comes to my kids. I long to have one of those households where everyone checks in daily and has frequent dinners together. I dream of being texted about all the little things. It ain’t happening and it won’t with my FTM son. I’ll have an amazing phone call from him that is connecting and reinforces me-I am reassured our relationship is as close as I would like it. Then no contact for weeks unless I make the first move. Then I have the conversations I call, “The Interview”. UGHHHHH. And just as soon as I mourn that particular contact and learn to step back, he’s back again!!

      Accepting that YOUR dream has been replaced with HIS is not easy- but it IS the correct order of things!!

      Deep breathing. One day at a time. List all the memories you hold dear. Have faith that, with time, a new relationship with a healthier adult will grow. Embrace the journey!

  16. Nicola Hockey November 4, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

    I haven’t been here in a long time so I thought I would just post an update. My trans daughter has been on hrt now for about 5 months. She has frozen some sperm in case she wants to have a natural child one day. I visited her at university a few months ago and was so pleased to see her changing and happy. She has had such a lot to learn just living so far away without a safety net of family, let alone transitioning. Luckily she has a wonderful partner who is completely supportive and helping her as much as she can. Her girlfriend is a very girly girl and is doing all the ‘girl stuff’ with her that she missed out on….makeup, clothes, hair! I found them so happy together I came home feeling so calm at last about everything, except my credit card which took a heavy hit on a shopping spree one day……all for my beautiful new daughter! When the semester finishes next week my daughter will change her name and gender on as many documents as she can until surgery, and begin living full time as a young woman. It is a special time and in a few weeks I will visit again. She won’t be home for Christmas for the first time in her life, but will travel with her girlfriend to visit her family in New Zeland. While we will all miss her terribly we know that she is well, happy and maturing into a wonderful person, and that she is not ready to come back to this small town just yet!
    Emotionally I still have my ups and downs. The day I had to pack up the last of my former sons clothes it dawned on me that there was no point keeping them…..he wasn’t coming back for them……I had a big cry!!! They even smelled like him. Anyway I sent them off to Good Will but have kept a favourite jumper(sweater) that really has his smell, and a shirt he wore on some special occasions. My husband claimed a few items too, a coat and a leather belt. He says he feels comforted by these things when he wears them….he doesn’t sniff them like I do……I’m feeling a bit like a crazy lady about the smell thing, but it does help me when I’m sad. I just wanted to say, wherever you are on this crazy journey, your emotions can still sideswipe you at any time. Most of the time all is well, then you see a kindergarten photo, or a favourite toy from years ago, or a high school report that says he’s not putting 100% into his sports!!! And it just hits you. But each time the sad bits get shorter, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel I think and eventually my mum brain will stop defaulting back to son and automatically go to daughter!

    • transmom November 4, 2016 at 11:48 pm #

      Dear Nicola,
      Thanks so much for your update! It’s so uplifting to hear how well you and your daughter are doing! I had to laugh when I read about your expensive shopping spree!! I had the same joy after my son came out: buying new wardrobe items for my son during our first trip to the men’s section for him!
      Your joy as a mother come through your words to each of us, Nicola! And while you are honest about the reality of your pain from time to time, you are encouraging!
      And no, I don’t think you are a “crazy lady” for smelling your child’s sweater!! It is a precious part of a loving and beautiful memory….there is no reason to let that go if you can still enjoy it!!
      Thanks for keeping us posted! Please let us know how your daughter’s surgery goes and how you manage that emotional trial!

  17. Heidi March 25, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    I realize this was written a few years ago but just now found it because I am searching for help with this. My 22 year old son informed us that he is transgender recently and I am definitely in the grieving stage. I struggle with wanting to be supportive and accepting but it very difficult letting go of my son. Also he doesn’t seem to want my advice on anything because he seems to know it already. I am praying with time this gets easier but I have my doubts. I feel like I am losing a child. I guess once I start seeing him happier will help but I fear that this may not happen and then what? I guess time will tell. I wish I could get over these feelings and move on but it is not easy.

    • transmom March 26, 2017 at 9:49 pm #

      Hi Heidi! Everyone has a different experience hearing this news from their child. My experience is that MOST parents struggle when their kid comes out to them! It’s hard when you feel like you are “losing” someone, but I am here to assure you that you are NOT losing your son! He is still your beloved child and always will be…different “packaging”, perhaps, but an emotionally healthier and happier one will replace the child that is currently seeking contentment and an identity that rings true! Once transition and time have elapsed, you will begin to find a “new normal”…after time, you will visualize your daughter where your son used to reside in your mind’s eye! Trust me; it really WILL happen! Struggles with name and pronoun changes will give way to automaticity!

      Please know that it is TYPICAL of ANY 22 year old to “know everything already”!- ESPECIALLY when it comes to identity! Let’s face it…what do we know about being transgender? Nothing!! So my advice is let your child lead the way…refrain from advice and burdening them with your tears and fears (they have PLENTY of their own, even if they do not share those with you!!). Take baby steps in stepping up for your kid: ask THEM how you can best support them. Just remind them that you love them and that you are always here for them!!

      Always take care of yourself, too! Finding a support group of likeminded parents would be the best! Read about other parents and their children that are going through similar journeys!!

      The very best to you!!!

      • Heidi Fritz March 26, 2017 at 11:18 pm #

        Thank you for replying. I will reread this message many times and hope you are right. I do attend a support group which is helpful. Often times I feel very alone with this because many people just don’t seem to understand. Again hoping with time it will get easier. Thanks for the uplifting response.

      • transmom March 26, 2017 at 11:27 pm #

        I hope this will help, Heidi! I am so happy you are in a support group!

        You are right…most people do not understand as they do not have personal experience with transgender folks and the related issues. However, our kids continue to come forward and push what once were boundaries…this will eventually lead to understanding and acceptance! It is our responsibility to build up our strength to send the message of tolerance on behalf of our beloved children!

  18. annastransformation April 4, 2017 at 8:28 pm #

    Hello. I am just starting the process (as an adult) of transitioning from male to female. The other day my friend started to cry over this and, while supportive, she said that she was grieving the loss of the person she knew before. I am going to write a bit about this on my personal journey blog. Your words hit home. Thanks!

    • transmom April 12, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

      You are most welcome, Anna!!
      I would love to know how it feels to you to hear someone you care about say they are “grieving for you”!!! Please send us your blog info!!
      The best to you as you transition!!!

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