Last week marked the two-year anniversary of my daughter’s transition. This day every year will be a milestone, not only for her but also for my husband and me.
A day to reflect on all the ways in which she has changed and, even more, all the ways my husband and I have transformed as people and as parents of a transgender child.
When the calendar found us this time last year, we were still equal parts happy and sad. We were still grieving the loss of our son and all the dreams we had planned for our little boy. But we were overjoyed to see our daughter lighter and happier than she had ever been.
We sometimes still mixed up pronouns when talking about her and still often led with a defensive tone when others would ask questions about our decision to let her live as her true self.
Maddie was still trying to find herself. She was always over-accessorizing her outfits as a way to prove her femininity to the world. We were all still worried all of the time, but we were trending in the right direction.
She was established in school with a group of friends and a teacher that said she was well-adjusted and living her best life.
This year we are different again, but not in any of the ways I would have expected. I no longer mix up pronouns and I don’t feel as uncomfortable delicately correcting someone else when they do.
I do not look at my daughter, aged seven now, and sometimes default to thinking of her as my son. I no longer wonder if I made the right decision as I see where loving her unconditionally has led us.
I don’t worry about the opinions of the people and world around us.
I see how she is also different. She will throw on her brother’s hoodie sweatshirt and put her hair up in a ponytail.
She no longer needs bows and bracelets and dangling earrings (although she still often enjoys wearing those things). She doesn’t feel the pressure to please or try to impress others with who she is.
I no longer worry she won’t fit in because frankly, in the times over the past two years when fitting in was not an option, she simply created her own new space. In those moments she didn’t ask for permission from others or forgiveness for being different.
She just stood proud. In those moments I was reminded we are the ones who are learning from her.
In the past year I have become an advocate for other families walking this path. Before my child was born I didn’t even know what the word ‘transgender’ really meant. Now I am leading at the front line in an attempt to ensure equality and respect for all.
We have shared our story and in return are making friends all over the map. I cry with moms who are at the beginning of their journey, feeling all the same uncertainty, sadness and confusion as I did just two short years ago.
There are still those who ask and wonder how or why. Many people say they have no idea what they would do if they were my daughter’s parents. They ask questions like, what if it’s not real? What if it’s a phase? What if it’s attention-seeking behavior? These were all things we asked ourselves, believe me.
We researched, talked to doctors, talked to therapists. We read statistics and books
I saw my daughter’s persistence, her certainty in herself, and realized that she planned to live this version of herself with or without her parents’ support. The only thing that was left up to us was whether we would meet these changes with support and acceptance or anger and rejection.
I wonder where we will be when the calendar finds us next year, and the year after, and the year after that. Maybe we will be far from here or maybe we won’t.
The important thing is no matter where we go, we are going together. I never want her on this journey without us. No matter where it leads us or what challenges we face, we will do it together.
No matter what, we choose
And we let the light inside our child shine