Parent “S”

Trigger warning – this blog post contains descriptions of severe self harm

For ease of understanding, in the beginning of this blog, I have used female pronouns for my “pre-transition child” and referred to him as a girl, as he was assigned at birth. However, I have total respect for the fact that he was right in referring to himself as a boy and always refer to him as such now.

I was thrilled to bits when my 4th child was finally a girl. Emilia had 3 older brothers, so we weren’t remotely surprised that she seemed to believe she was a boy- she tried to stand to pee, copied what her brothers wore, played rugby, and did karate, fearlessly beating up the lads, no problem, which blew my mind. 

As she became older, she began to ask us to call her by boys names, like “Derek” and “Elvis Jones” (which just made us laugh and play along, which she loved). She left ballet classes after a few months and from then on vehemently refused to wear anything remotely feminine, insisted on the shortest hair cut we let her get away with.

One day, at 7 years old we went to buy her first guitar, since she seemed to have quite a talent. The shopkeeper offered her a bright pink one. The look of utter disgust she gave him, accompanied by “’Ere mate, say that one more time, and I’ll rugby tackle you to the ground,“ struck a chord (excuse the pun). 

Various similar incidents such as: at only 3 years old, shopping for ballet shoes, she told someone that “her parents wanted her to be a pretty little ballerina when she was just a rough tough boy”. We got the hint, and she left. And, during a karate lesson she full-on punched an adult man in his stomach and seriously winded him.

All of this, accompanied by having zero interest in female friends, and continuously insisting she was a boy really began to worry us, not being sure what it meant, and having no concept of trans men back in the noughties. But we happily allowed our little “tom-boy” to express her inner boy.  Then at ten years old, puberty began, and our previously happy, confident vibrant child disappeared, being replaced by an incredibly anxious and increasingly reclusive child, who began to self-harm, refuse school and eventually was referred to CAMHS, who diagnosed Autism and depression.

On the day I found her in a pool of blood in the bathroom, having attempted to give herself a double mastectomy, I knew this was no tom-boy, and we had something much bigger on our hands. After a trip to A&E, cuddles, hot chocolate and a long, long chat, my child told me they were transgender, and had been trying to repress the overwhelming feelings for 3 years. My child said they were terrified, terrified of surgery and injections and being bullied and abused, but way more terrified of trying to live life as a girl. 

The overwhelming shock, fear, and confusion; accompanied by the feeling that life was spiralling off somewhere I had no understanding or control over; was all encompassing and for months we lived in some kind of befuddled fog.

…everyone’s story was so similar to ours; the other parents were incredibly comforting and lovely, and we began to attend the support groups, where we made so many friends.

A friend recommended Generate Plus, and after talking to their therapist on Zoom, I began to feel that this was something I could deal with, and I wasn’t alone, I cried buckets of relief. Joining the Generate Facebook Group was the second stage of feeling we were going to survive this – everyone’s story was so similar to ours; the other parents were incredibly comforting and lovely, and we began to attend the support groups, where we made so many friends.

Six years down the line I look back and thing generate saved my sanity and gave me the strength and understanding to navigate the next few years of supporting my child, who is now my 19-year-old, happy confident son, transitioning and having the support of us having healed his mental health struggles.  He now attends Generate adult groups and we have lifelong friends we made through Generate Plus.