I have been the mother of a transgender child for a little over 30 years. The key fact here is that I didn’t even know it. Hindsight showed me that there were several instances where my child was trying to tell me something that I didn’t see, hear or act on until the pain became too great.
To care for our children, as mother’s we consult with subject matter experts for one thing or another to get to the truth. When my daughter was born, the authority that I trusted implicitly was the doctor that proclaimed upon her noisy entry into this world that my child was a girl. The doctor saw what he saw; his determination was unquestioned; but as life went on, several occurrences were ignored each, and every time that should have revealed to me that I had a very different… kind of girl.
Firstly, shortly after my son was born, an age appropriate lesson on what makes a boy a boy and what makes a girl a girl began. Then the announcement, “you are now a big sister” cemented her fate.
Then, my daughter who was two years old, received on Christmas day, a baby doll named Cindy that was as big as she was. The doll wore a pretty pink outfit complete with a hat, pink shoes and a pink blanket. The doll had very short painted on hair and a cloth body. Immediately upon receiving the doll, my daughter commenced to remove her pink hat, her pink outfit, her pink shoes and she threw the pink blanket away in the trash. Shocked, I asked her what she was doing, she told me boys don’t wear pink and that her baby’s name was Jeff.
I raised my daughter with lacy frilly socks, pretty dresses, and hair ribbons that would magically disappear every day at school. I later found out that she was giving them away to her friends and would rather walk around all day with her hair standing on end like she had been electrified than wear those offensive ribbons.
At eight years old, my daughter came home from school crying hysterically and was inconsolable. I asked her what was wrong. She said that she asked to play a game with the boys and they told her no because she was a girl. After wiping her tears, I stated matter of fact, well… you are a girl. She wailed, YOU BELIEVE IT TOOOOOO!!!!!
On a constant basis, I did not see what she was showing me daily, I did not hear “Alex” saying mom, mom, mom, mom, MOOOOOOM! Alex was who was trying to emerge from behind the veil was still invisible to me.
As we raise our children, mothers instill a level of trust that is unmatched by any other person in their life. We become the first protectors, instead of standing as the buffer between my child and the outside world who are certain their opinions and belief systems are worthy of erasing my child’s goals and dreams to be who he really is, I let them in my child’s life by becoming one of them. I effectively became my child’s enemy by taking away the crag of safety in the storm that had been placed there by God.
The authorities that we seek help and guidance from are doctors, pediatricians, teachers and counselors. In my case I will go in search of a boss, a college professor, a 1st sergeant or a company commander to get the facts. Being a mother of six that DOES NOT play, I will fight you to make sure my children are safe and sound. When my young sons came home from the park around the corner complaining that the “big boys” would not let them play basketball, I got in my car and went around the corner to ‘git’ with the “big boys.”
However, here began a complete downward spiral of failure towards my daughter, when she came home from school in utter misery from rejection, I sided with the perpetrators instead of going deeper to find out why she believed she was a boy, I ignored it. What should have been a teachable moment for me; turned out to be an extremely painful missed opportunity in the least to start a conversation.
Almost 28 years later that missed opportunity presented itself again; recently, my son sat me down and said we need to talk. I knew generally what the conversation would be about as over the years forward movement in small steps had been achieved towards me understanding what being transgender meant. I say small steps because there was a conversation on being gay, on being lesbian and on just being. This conversation was a profoundly different.
My child made a statement that was absolute; Mom I am and always was a boy. I presented as a girl physically at birth, but in my mind, I have always been a boy. The doctor, my ‘subject matter expert’ at the time indeed called it right based on what he saw however, he did not have batteries in his psychic hat to see the future of what my child really was, which would negate his first opinion.
At that moment, the term “Mom” did not mean working two jobs to make sure the lights were on or that there were groceries and a roof to live under. It took on a meaning that was profound; being a mom meant listening. Not the kind of multi-listening that included worrying over a money, whether or not I returned a call to a colleague or if I closed the garage door. It meant shutting down all else and giving singular thought to what my child was saying. It was here that my college level education on Transgender 101 began. The subject matter expert and my professor … was my child.
Like any other culture, the African American or Black culture hands down generational thought, lessons and rules that we live by. “Don’t put your business in the street, don’t count your money in front of people, ladies don’t put your purse on the floor and children are to be seen and not heard.” I did not listen and for over 30 years my child suffered needlessly. As a ‘new’ mom, my mission is to accept, grow together, understand and truly SEE the person, my child in front of me.
In conclusion, because I’m THAT Mom, to my ancestors I say thank you for your wisdom, for the foundation you built for me as an individual to proudly stand upon and for my beautiful eyes. But now that we are here at this moment in time, I will learn, cultivate and pass down a legacy of understanding for today, that will become an evolving thought for future generations.
To my son, whose name is Alexander Edmon Luckie Fuller, I See You….