When a family loses a member, dynamics change; it is just a fact of the circumstances. There is a process of grieving for that loss that has no time period, limit or expiration.
“We have gone through fears of losing this child to suicide”
The same is true for a parent of a transgender child. Even as accepting parents of our son, this was true for us as well. We have gone through fears of losing this child to suicide, anguished with not understanding self-harming, and anger dealing with the reality of not being able to take these difficulties away.
You start out wanting a child, and finding out their biological sex early on in pregnancy and birth a beautiful baby girl; your first child is born healthy! Through 11 years you nurture this girl child as you know how and have certain traditional expectations of how their life will be down the road. And THAT is what gets you…your own expectations. When your child tells you they are transgender, you must re-align your own thinking and understand the future is going down a different path. Some parents feel the need to compartmentalize the memories and past much like a death, in order to move on with the child in transition. Many people in the LGBT community even use the term “dead name” for the given birth name to represent what is no longer the person they are or have become. This can be a hard concept or term for many to use. Personally, I am not a fan of the term myself. To me, my child has not died and I want to be there for them as they continue on this journey. I now try to remember the hurdles we have all crossed so far. Celebrate your child and your family!
“Grief is unexpected and not always convenient.”
Grief is unexpected and not always convenient. Not only do you grieve in the beginning for this change in your child you may not have foreseen, but in some random times and ways. That is ok, and we all need to grieve in our own ways. As a parent, one of the greatest things to see is your child thriving and becoming their own person. You have tried to mold them into productive and good young people for so many years. This should not change if their gender identity, as you knew it, does.
This journey your family is on will take many twists and turns and ups and downs. Embrace your child, and their identity. They have not left you and with support the probability of them transitioning and being their best self is greatly increased. Just as our children cannot do this alone, you do not have to do this alone. Remember we are not islands and a wonderful support group will help you out in many ways.
Find your tribe…love them hard!