We were four months into living in a new house, in a different county known for good schools. We had moved partly for this reason and honestly for a nicer house. Our son had just turned 15 and we were sitting in the living room one day when he said, “I think I might be Trans.” I just remember thinking this was kind of familiar. Our daughter had told us she was bisexual at 13, although it ended up being a phase and life went on as usual.
Our reaction to our son’s confession was to ask a few questions and more or less play along. I referred to him as she/her, my daughter and so on. My husband did not. Things got very strange, very fast. He started talking about hormones and surgery in a very agitated way. I got books on the subject, including Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage. I thought it made a lot of sense. I backed off of the pronouns and then had to put up with being called a transphobe and a terf. It seemed like the more we talked (and we talked about EVERYTHING), the worse it got. My nerves were pretty shot by about week four. My son is also autistic. On the advice of his doctor, I contacted the gender clinic affiliated with Children’s. Fortunately, there was a nine month waitlist.
Meanwhile, I found Fourth Wave Now, Genspect and Gender A Wider Lens podcast, as well as a group of other parents in the area dealing with the same issues (through PROGDK). The first therapist we found was affirming but luckily, now armed with more information, we were able to locate a non affirming therapist through GETA, who also had lots of experience with autistic kids. He works on our son’s social skills primarily. He sees progress but has told us it will likely be a long slog.
I took my son off the gender clinic waitlist.
We got him to pick up guitar again about 5 months ago. He has weekly instruction but is only recently starting to practice more regularly. We are grateful for anything that will distract him from the self destruction that is trans ideology. He likes to cook and mess around with crafts but above all, he is into computers. He has always struggled to make friends and keep them. It was always easier in elementary school and even middle school until the pandemic came along and turned so many of us into hermits.
I think about the What Ifs sometimes. What if we had never gotten him a phone? What if we had never put the computer in his room so he could do his online schooling? What if we had never moved for his freshman year? What if we had taken our kids to church? I know many of these things might have played a role in some way but we have the situation we have. Instead of languishing in those What Ifs, I choose to be grateful. I am grateful that we can have interesting conversations with our son. That we can laugh about silly things. That we have an understanding therapist. That I can actually communicate with his school about him. I was afraid to reach out to the school at first but I found that approaching his teachers and administration with empathy for the tough position they are in has helped tremendously.
I am grateful for the support of my siblings. Even though we hold opposing political views, despite our differences, we truly love each other. I am so grateful for family and grateful for all the wonderful support from the many organizations and parents who see this movement for what it is.
Things feel better now. The other day, he told me I am a little transphobic. I will take that “little” as a win. I have a lot of hope that, with time, my son will develop a healthy sense of himself. After working through this experience together, I think this might just be in the cards for him—and us. And perhaps he will emerge from this strong enough to face life and whatever it throws his way.