Today I am the proud parent of a transgender four year old. The emphasis here is on today.
I am often asked why I am “allowing” my four year old child to dress like a boy, act like a boy, and call himself a boy when in fact he was born with an assigned female gender. I’ve been told to put him in a dress, let his hair grow out, get him all dolled up and call him a girl every day until he gets used to the idea that he is a girl no matter what. I’ve been told that he is merely a child and doesn’t know any better and it is my job as his mother to lead him the “correct” way and in the “correct” direction so that he sees that he is not a boy but a girl. But let me ask you this, have you ever felt so uncomfortable in your own skin that you wanted to crawl out of it? Or worse, that you wanted to claw at your own flesh so that you can get to the part of you that you know is in there but no one else can see. Have you ever wanted to take off this façade that covers every inch of your body and hides who you truly are? I am a mother and as a mother it is my responsibility and my duty to see what my kids feel. It is my “job,” for lack of a better word, to feel what they feel and anticipate what they are going through before the events take place. Now, don’t misunderstand what I’ve just said. I am not here to stop their feelings or stop them from having a variety of experiences (as long as they are safe and don’t harm others I’m ok with this). But as a mother, I need to see what it is that is going on or at least see that something is going on so that I can help each and every one of my kids to succeed in life, and to help them so that they can figure out a way to live their lives to the fullest.
Peyton was miserable as girl. He hated life. He hated himself. He cried and cried and threw tantrums over everything. Yeah I get it, he is four, they do this sort of thing. And yeah I get it, he has significant issues that throw his entire body out of whack on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Through all of these, and despite his age, I could see that there was something so much deeper going on. In passing one day, Peyton said that he wanted to be a boy. He was three at the time and I thought nothing of it. Have I mentioned that listening to your kids is crucial at this age? If I haven’t, let me tell you, it is CRUCIAL to listen to your kids at any age. There is so much to learn from them, about them and their world at any age. At four they are often incessant chatter boxes. Sometimes I have to tell my kids to sit quiet for a few minutes because they are constantly talking about something or other and most of the time it’s just noise. In all their talking though, once in a while, key words or phrases will pop out. As a mother I have to be able to decipher it all. So I listened and I heard him. Days and days went on that he would say that he wanted to be a boy. This desire increased and persisted over time. In time I realized that this was all more then a desire. This was the real Peyton trying to come out and the persistence, which was sometimes annoying I won’t lie, the persistence was there because he wanted help in becoming who he really was inside. Seeing this and realizing this as a mom was something that I could not ignore. My little boy wanted the world to see him as he saw himself and his inability to show the world who he truly was made him miserable inside. I could not sit there and see my child suffer while everyone else lived their happy lives in their very gender defined world. That sounds as if he wanted to make everyone else uncomfortable but this is not the case. He just wanted to be himself just like everyone else was able to be themselves.
Over the course of several months and lots of talking, Peyton became Peyton. Some might say that this was not enough time to make the transition, and I really do understand that some may be feeling this way. I followed Peyton’s lead. He chose when he wanted his clothing changed, I slowed the process a little bit but essentially followed his lead. He chose his hair cut. He chose his name. Actually he had his name picked out months and months before he even mentioned wanting to be a boy. It is not my place as a parent or as a human being, to tell others how to live their lives. I can’t do that with a stranger and I can’t do that with my children. Transitioning into a male gender is something that will not harm anyone around him. Yes it affects others but this is only because we have been conditioned as humans to judge one another instead of letting one another live.
In January of 2014 the suicide rate for transgender teens was at 41%. This was published in an article in the Los Angeles Times http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/28/local/la-me-ln-suicide-attempts-alarming-transgender-20140127. If you google transgender suicide rate, you will come up with many other articles on the topic. Add to that the number of transgender people killed each year solely because they are transgender and we are basically losing all these people that are not hurting anyone. This is heart breaking for me as a mother.
I don’t want to ever lose any of my children. I don’t ever want to lose Peyton. I will do everything that I can do so that he can be as happy as he can be in life. Whether he is a boy or a girl doesn’t matter. All that matters is that he wakes up excited every day because he is a boy and can wear his boy clothing.
I am very aware that Peyton is four years old. Tomorrow he might wake up and say that he wants to be a girl again and then things may once again change. But for today and all the days to come, if he feels that he is a boy, then a boy he will be.