My child came out as transgender and I couldn’t be happier

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

As a parent, one thing I've always struggled with is the dichotomy of wanting my children to have a happy, easy life, while also becoming well-rounded adults. Sure, it's possible to cruise through your childhood and still be a nice person, but those who have known struggle are often the ones that are the most resilient and compassionate, and who have the most interesting stories.

I've never sought out struggle for my eldest child, but struggle has certainly found her. When puberty hit, she went from being our perky girl, full of rainbows and sunshine, to a restless, maladjusted and depressed teen. Last year she attempted suicide twice.

"What's behind it?" everyone wanted to know - including me. 

When your child tries to take their own life, what you want are answers. If you know what's wrong, maybe somehow you can fix it. That's our job as parents, right?

But there was no answer. There was no one thing that made my child so miserable she didn't want to live anymore. She was just so achingly sad that she didn't know how to live with it, and she wanted it to stop.

Since all of that happened, my daughter has started taking anti-depressants, which have helped enormously, as has the team of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers that have been supporting her and our family through this minefield of emotions.

She has been stable, but still not what I would call "happy".

But a month or so ago, my daughter came to me and told me she had something to tell me. She was incredibly nervous and I could see whatever it was meant a great deal to her. When she finally managed to form the words, it was something that I wasn't expecting.

"Mum, I'm transgender." 

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Although I was surprised, life has taught me to roll with whatever is happening, so I gave her a hug and thanked her for telling me. Then we talked for ages. I asked lots of questions. My daughter answered some, and said she didn't know for others. And I told her I would love and support her no matter what.

Transitioning will be a long and slow process. You may notice I'm still using the female pronouns when I speak about her. Eventually this will change, but for now we're taking things slow. That's the way she wants it.

There are so many things to consider. Luckily she attends a co-ed school so if she does decide to transition into living as a boy full-time, she can stay at the same school. 

Will children there be kind? Who knows.

Will she feel comfortable going to the boys' toilets and attending their sporting events? No idea.

Will she be in physical danger from others boys once she becomes he? Gosh, that scares me, I hope not. 

But among all of this, I've noticed something incredible happening to my child. Whatever happens in the future, she has learned to speak her own truth, to not hide who she is, and to be proud of the talented, creative and compassionate soul she is. 

She posted a message on Facebook telling family and friends that she is coming out, and received 100 per cent messages of support. My brother told her he doesn't care if she's a tree, he will always love her. My mother has even taken her shopping for binders to reduce her bust under her clothes.

My daughter has learned that her family and friends love her no matter what, and that there are a lot of people out there in the world who have gone through exactly what she's going through now. She has learned that it feels good to be honest about who you are. 

I've seen more smiles in the past month than I saw in the entire year last year. Just this morning, she came to me and said, "Mum, I think I'm really starting to get better. I've hardly had any sad episodes lately, and – I dunno – I just feel happy and hopeful for the future."

That's all I ever wanted for her.