The Lord Looks at the Heart: When My Son Became My Daughter
I am the mom of the little girl called A.J., who was recently profiled in the Kansas City Star. As surprised as I was to find my family in the paper, I am also incredibly proud.
Credit Image: Jessica Keating Photography on Flickr
My daughter is six years old. She transitioned—which means she changed her outward appearance from male to female and started living full-time as a her true gender—when she was four. Until that point, she was quite a rough and tumble little boy with a buzz cut and shark-tooth necklace. But when she was three, she asked her dad and I if we could buy her a princess dress.
We didn’t buy the dress. We thought she might be going through a stage of liking bright or sparkly things and didn’t want to waste money on something she would grow bored of in a week. But she kept asking and I found out that she had a favorite princess dress she wore at daycare. "What the heck?" we thought and took her to the store to pick one out.
Things didn’t stop there. Over the next few months, she started to wear that dress every single minute she was at home. Then she asked for more: dresses, nightgowns, headbands, sparkly pink shoes and eventually even girls’ underwear. We allowed some of those things but drew the line at the undies. There were just some things we weren’t comfortable with during this "phase."
But then I noticed her pushing down on her genitals a lot and asked her what was wrong. Not having those parts, I assumed she might have a rash and was itchy, but her answer shocked me. She said that they bothered her and were in the way. She wanted them gone.
Thank God for Google because I immediately jumped on the computer and typed in a search ..."Four-year-old boy says genitals should be gone." What came back was a very short list of results, but they all pointed to one thing: My child might be transgender.
I had never even heard the word "transgender" before and really didn’t know what to think. We made an appointment with our pediatrician. She recommended a child psychologist. But before we could even get an appointment, my daughter—then my four-year-old son—said these words to me, "Mom, you know I’m really a girl, right? I’m a girl on the inside."
That moment changed my life. In the following months, she became more insistent. We saw the psychologist and an endocrinologist to make sure there wasn’t a hidden medical issue. She became more determined to express herself by wearing those pink sparkly shoes to daycare. She wanted to go out for ice cream in a fairy dress and wings. Eventually, we couldn’t hold her back. She was showing signs of depression and refused to leave the house dressed as a boy. The day I let her go to school in girl clothes, she was happier than I had seen her in a very long time. The kids were great. The teachers were awesome.
But then the kids went home and told their parents, and things weren’t so great after that. Adult bigotry influenced them. We lost most of our friends and some family. We basically went into hiding for about a year while my daughter grew her hair out to look like the girl she is. When we emerged again, it was with a very happy and confident daughter.
When I tell our daughter’s story, I hear the same uninformed comments over and over again, so I’d like to address a few of those now.