We have recently talked about coming out to your family about being transgender and today I want to touch base on being transgendered… with children. Now, I personally don’t have children, but I do have a little brother who I treat as my own son. I raised him from infancy, watched him grow as a toddler, and now I am guiding him through the perils of “teen-hood” at age 13. I am proud to say he is a bright, vibrant, and accepting young man. Obviously, he knew me both before and after my transition. At first he was a bit confused as to whether he should still address me as his brother or as his new sister. Fortunately for me, when I transitioned 5 years ago he was only 8 years old and possessed a mind too young to judge and criticize as my relatives and mother did.
The beginning of my transition was very awkward for me. In the back of my mind I pondered how my brother would perceive me and if his behavior towards me would change. I wondered if our relationship would diminish and if he would lose all trust in me. I asked myself if it was my job to educate him or let questions arise naturally. I noticed it was a rough adjustment for my brother ,too. Although he did not directly voice it, I could sense it in the moments of strained silence, hesitation in speech, and stagnant, stilted conversations.
I continued to behave the way I normally would to show that I was still the same person. My appearance changed but my intentions of goodwill towards him remained the same. When dealing with children, the adult must have patience with them and allow the child to absorb and gradually rebuild their comfort zone. Regardless of others, this was my decision to transition and this was what I wanted. I could only imagine how much more difficult this would have been if my brother was actually my child and I would have to explain my transition as a parent.
I continued spending time with my brother in a family setting, sharing his activities and events. Slowly he opened up, sharing his thoughts and feelings. He soon understood that this was not a choice made from burden nor did it require his remorse. I only wanted him to come to a point of acceptance and to know that I will always be there for him. We shared our experiences of family drama, lifestyles, hobbies, goals, and eventually bonded over a time frame of 2 years. It wasn’t easy as we were living on different coasts, but maintaining consistent communication and putting in the time and effort made all the difference in the world for both of us.
Children are very open minded and pure of heart. It’s all about the additional nurturing of their mind so they can make the right decisions and giving them the life tools to express themselves. Maintaining a level of respect, showcasing affection, and positive thoughts and conversations can lead to a better relationship after transitioning between you and your child or sibling than you ever had previously. I hope my experiences can shine a light in the dark for the transgender parents and children out there trying to come to a mutual point of understanding and for those who will or want to be parents to have a renewed relationship with their families before they take the leap into parenthood. Love each other unconditionally, that’s the one true thing that makes all the difference.