I was a mom at an early age. 19 years old to be exact. My daughter and I raised each other with lots of help from my Mom and family. We moved around a lot. We ended up in some crazy situations but through it all, we were together and working for that dream life. Flash forward ten years and the dream is a reality. I have met the perfect man, moved my daughter and I to his town and we started a normal life together.
The night my husband and I got married, I dreamed I was pregnant. Our life was so blessed, why wouldn’t we want to add another bundle of love to it? I told my husband, wedding ring still fresh on his finger, that I would give him a daughter of his own. He was instantly on board and we started trying.
Two years later, after more infertility drugs than I thought possible – it happens! I’m pregnant! My daughter had an amazing dad, we just got approved for our first house and now we were expecting! How amazingly normal is this?
In March of 2006, our angel was born. That night long ago, I dreamed her name was Emily. That name was as perfect as she was…and she was perfect. Loved and adored by everyone that met her. She was a girly girl in the highest caliber.
Our “BuggyGirl” had all the pink things. We bought everything fluffy and glittered and bejeweled we could find. We could not get enough! She was a spoiled pampered princess with all the ball gowns and taffeta to prove it.
We dreamed of all the things we would experience – Sweet 16 parties, prom dresses, walking her down the aisle, being with her when her first baby is born, like I was with my oldest. The future was nothing but sunshine and light in our bubble gum pink existence.
At five years old, we were asked if the next time we did a haircut, could we go short? Sure! It’s your hair, let’s go short.
At seven years old, we were asked if we could do jeans and t-shirts instead of dress? Sure! It’s your butt, let’s cover it in denim.
At nine years old, we were asked why is school required? Until that day, we thought school was our child’s favorite place in the world! She was always advanced for her age, so we knew it could be boring sometimes but now school was a horrible place and daily anxiety was shown to the point of physical sickness to not go.
Counseling was sought, but depression and anxiety ruled our existence. Something had changed in my darling daughter. She hated everything and everyone. Life was hell and I didn’t understand.
At 11 years old, we were asked if we could get a Valentines present for her bestie. When we went to the store to get it, we were asked if a teddy bear and rose would be OK. Sure! If you have a little crush on your friend and want to buy her a gift, that’s great! We are cool and hip and we are fine with that!
At 12 years old, it finally happened. We were told very plainly – I am a boy. He must have watched hour upon hours of YouTube videos about it. He could answer every question I had. He thought it through and had knowledge and complete thoughts when discussing it. There was no “I think” there was “I am”.
At 44 years old, I now had a son. This is a whole new world in an instant. Emily is now Corey.
My world in management came in handy. All I did was research, research, research. I joined every Facebook group I could find. I talked to friends that had experience in the LGBTQ+ community. I volunteered for the local Pride day. I tagged my social media with every positive transgender story I could find and spewed outrage to every negative. I was going to be the best advocate to my son that I could be and WIN at being awesome.
I was introduced to a life I had only known on TV or in books. Transgender to me meant outrageous costumes like RuPaul and or dark and brooding like Lavern Cox. My only knowledge of a female who was transgender was Chaz Bono. Literally, the only person. I took all the steps I could think of to know as much as I could for my kid.
None of that mattered though. Sure, educating myself about the community was helpful, but guess what? Not all people have the same experiences and not all knowledge is power. I became terrified for my son. I could not function with the thoughts of the hatred and judgement he was “inviting onto himself” for “choosing to go through this”. Stupid YouTube makes this stuff cool and he is just trying to fit in. It is a phase and if I am patient and supportive, he’ll get bored and move on but I will be the good guy because I was supportive the whole time.
Then, I talked to my son. A lot. I asked tons of questions, that he gleefully answered. He was so passionate. SO alive! It was like all the darkness and anxiety was lifted and he was honestly himself for the first time in forever. He laughed again. He spent time with me again. He was talking again.
When I saw that change – that spark – I knew. My son was here and my BuggyGirl was no more. This was not a phase. This was not an attempt to fit in. This was not him being “extra”. This was him understanding what he was feeling was OK. It was defined for him and labelled for him. He finally knew what was right and that our beautiful princess wasn’t. He took that time and knowledge and finally understood what was happening. He had the vocabulary now.
What could I do? My love for my child was greater than any predetermined labels. If he was sure, I was sure. That’s all there was for me. I took a minute, gathered my thoughts and moved on. I had a son to raise, and it was time to get on with it.
I’ve been asked many times how I could be so accepting and just “get over it” so quickly. Accept it with no fight or resistance. It was and still is very simple. Why wouldn’t I?? Would denying his truth make it any less true? No. It was not a problem, it was an explanation.
I finally understood why my child hated getting up every day and pretending to be someone he wasn’t. I finally understood why he was angry all the time. I finally understood why he would cry with “no reason” all the time. He wasn’t in the right skin.
How presumptuous of me to assume his life would be as I dreamed. How selfish of me to want different than his heart does. How heedless of me to disregard his feelings to keep an image alive that isn’t real.
I’m told our job as parents is to raise our children to be independent, kind, responsible and a good person. Our job is to love them, support them and encourage them. It is the basic rights of every child and mine isn’t different than yours. His truth doesn’t mean he needs less love or understanding, His truth doesn’t mean there was a failure or mistake somewhere down the line. His truth doesn’t mean the future I dreamed of is dead, it’s just changed.
He’ll have a sweet 16 party – I’ll just save on the balloons and glitter.
He’ll go to Prom – I’ll just be picking out cummerbunds and corsages instead of dresses.
He’ll get married – and I will over plan everything anyways.
He’ll decide if I get more grand babies – and I will love them with every ounce of my heart.
Corey isn’t the person I dreamed of 16 years ago – he’s better.
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