A MOTHER’S Journey–Is My Child Transgender? is by a Fremantle mum who wants to remain anonymous. It’s been edited substantially for length. The full version can be found at cottesloecounselling.com.au/mother’s_journey
“Mummy, God made a really big mistake making me. He was thinking girl and at the last minute made a boy.”
At these words I felt the enormity of the despair my son Gilli (a pseudonym) had been feeling, even at the tender age of three.
I looked into his tear-filled eyes, and said: “Darling, God doesn’t make mistakes, God has a plan for everyone.”
From an early age Gilli preferred pretty clothes. Wonderful hand-me-downs from boy cousins weren’t an option. Gilli would wear what he termed “in-between” clothes out, and at home dresses from the dress-up box, or something pretty from the op shop, bought to avoid a very public tantrum.
My husband and I had no issues with Gilli’s preference for feminine things, but family did, questioning allowing him to wear “inappropriate” clothing, and asking “weren’t we making it harder in the long term?”.
As Gilli started school it became strikingly obvious to me he was different, not just because of the clothes he wore.
Our journey as parents has taken two paths: as parents we provide support and love to Gilli. We use feminine pronouns when addressing her, we listen to her fears, try to answer questions about her body and how to navigate peers, teachers, family and social setting; and as parents, we are acquiring knowledge about how best to support our child so she can be happy and develop good self-esteem.
We’ve had many late-night discussions, questioning and learning to accept that unconditional love is love regardless of expectations on who Gilli is.
When Gilli said, “this mountain to climb to be a girl is too hard, mummy. I would rather be back in heaven” we sought the assistance of a paediatrician and child and adolescent psychiatrist.
Our family totally supports Gilli, We have shared her journey with family and close friends; given a talk to classmates’ parents and her teacher. Our hope is they will all show kindness and respect for the journey our family is on, one we have invited them to take with us.
We hope they will demonstrate understanding so that Gilli doesn’t have to feel she has to be a secret, although I feel strongly that some things are private.
The most important thing to us is that Gilli leads the journey. By doing so, we think she has the best chance of growing up as a happy, worthy and deeply loved person.
Poem by Gilli, aged 8
I did not like the form I was put in
I felt sad that I was not who I wanted to be
I wanted to be someone different
I felt sad I was not it
I dream of being someone different
My mum and dad help me to be who I want to be
I started to feel much happier
I feel that I am loved by all.
by JENNY D’ANGER