There I was, like a thousand times before. He and his mom were sitting across from me in the tiny room. His arms on the small semicircle table, rainbow bracelets and watch around his wrist. It was a summer month so he had on a pair of cargo shorts and heavy sweatshirt, glasses and shorter haircut. Then I saw them. The cuts. The scars. He had been cutting.
I went through the consultation as I do with them all. Going over the clinical aspects then financial. Heart racing, do I say something? I shouldn’t out them. What if I am wrong? Just because he has on rainbow bracelets that say “Pride” and “appears” to be “one of us” I shouldn’t assume anything. I mean, this is what we hate, when people assume things about our kids. When people have preconceived notions and make assumptions and act on them.
I looked over his paperwork before I went into the consultation, not realizing what I was walking into. So I did it. I got to the end, too a VERY DEEP BREATH. I let it out…”I hope we are respecting your pronouns, if we are not please make sure to let us know.” That was it. They were stunned. Eyes like saucers, mom shook her head in affirmation. They quickly ended the consultation and left the office.
Shit! I did it again. I outted someone or maybe I didn’t. Perhaps I misspoke. My intention was not to bring shame or harm. What if mom didn’t know? The worst thing an adult can do is to out a child before they are ready. What was I thinking?
Two weeks(ish) later mom comes back unannounced to meet with me. I am both hopeful and nervous at the sometime. We go into a private room. I explain that I have a daughter…I saw the cuts…I felt compelled…PLEASE FORGIVE ME! She and I spent the next hour or so talking about their story and discussing resources and parent groups. How to get her hooked into support groups and the path forward.
As the parent of a trans kid I find it very hard not to want to call out to my fellow comrades. HELLLLLOOOOOOOO!!!! I AM HEEEERRRRREEEEE!!!!! It is such a breath of fresh air when I spot one, I almost want to latch on like a leech. Oh, I’m sorry, am I latching too hard? I’m just a LITTLE needy. You see, the isolation is strong. The fear…constant. Oh, you’re child is being forced to go to the bathroom in the nurses office too? The gym teacher is lining them up in front of the class in the wrong gender line? Why are there lines by gender in this day in age (oh there she goes again)?! Oh the teacher is misgendering them? OMG the teacher never knew her as him? WTF? How do I change the gender marker on the birth certificate? Do you know it is illegal in some states? Do you know you have to place an ad in the newspaper allowing people to contest it in ours? WTF (there she goes again)?!
In the end I am incredibly grateful for the parents that are walking this journey with me. The mom and person that I have described above are two beautiful people that are part of our life. I am blessed to have a fierce group of like-minded families from across the country. Our children are growing up together and are strong, self-assured and we are being intentional about fostering connections so they have each other when parents matter less and friends matter more.