The excitement is building. My new book, Once a Girl, Always a Boy will be hitting book stores soon. Anyone who reads it will learn about deeply personal conversations between members of my immediate family.
As I was writing, I worried that revealing these intimate, sometimes painful details was an inappropriate invasion of my children’s and husband’s privacy. I didn’t worry about sharing my own inadequacies and faltering steps. That’s one thing. It’s entirely different to describe those of others.
So why do it? Why take the risk of making anyone feel uncomfortable? And who am I to do that? I am the mother of a transgender man. Who is in a better position to speak out, other than transgender individuals themselves? I’m already a writer. And a public speaker. Also, I have a skillset that I bring to the table that not every parent does.
Why does that matter? Why is it important for parents to share their stories? Why are we able to communicate effectively? It is exactly because we are parents. Our readers and listeners may not understand what it means to be transgender, but most people respond to the reality of a parent loving their child. So, like many other parents of transgender children and adults, I speak out—in my writing, in meetings with our legislators, at public gatherings.
I asked my family’s permission before setting out to do this. Each one of my children—and children-in-law—was clearly uneasy with what I might say, with how I might make them look. But they understood my desire to help people to grasp the struggle facing transgender folks and they supported that commitment.
I promised that they could read every word before publication and ask me to cut anything that was too personal, or to rework anything they felt was inaccurate or inadequate. Then they took the time to review it all, even when it felt awkward or painful. The resulting conversations were mind-boggling as we respectfully wrestled through differing memories and assumed intentions.
The family bonds grew deeper. I set out to write our story to help other families, and in the process, I was rewarded with some amazing changes in my own.