I was watching TV last night and I saw the NBC special on Jacob and his family. It was a breath of fresh air to see a transgender child in a positive light just as Jazz has been. This shows that being transgender is not just a phase or crazy thought but a life long struggle that some deal with longer than others. I am proud of the children but more so, I am proud of all the parents willing to take the steps nessasary to make their child happy. The unsung heros in the battle of dysphoria.
Many times I am asked how my family copes with my situation and somedays I truly don’t know. I have a wife and children who mean the world to me yet I seem lost at times. Questions in the great unknow flowing through my head like a cascading river. As a spouse I need to be part of a team team able to acomplish any mission and as a parent I must place my childrens needs above my own all while dealing with a dysphoria that can consume ones life in the process. It is a balancing act that goes on daily with no end in site. My wife has had a rough road in this story and yet she continues on with me and I thank her daily. She has been there for every doctors appointment and every depression. She has also given me the greatest gift ever, my three beautiful girls.
As parents we must always realize that every action we take shapes our child in certain ways. Children learn by their suroundings and environment just as much as through their genetics and culture so anything laid out before them is a learning opportunity. We must teach them that not everything is black and white and that pointing out flaws is not acceptable. We must also let them grow in hobbies. My youngest loves art and drawing, my middle child loves hockey, and my oldest is a barrel racer. All intersting fields and all areas where someone like me just doesn’t fit in yet I try to be at every event just a true parent should. They view people for who they are, not what they are nor are they embaressed by the fact that I am different. They almost brag about it.
Speaking to my children about their daddy being different than others can be hard, epecially if you think they should keep it all secret. I will say that my younger two (7&9) have mostly grown up looking at me in dresses and girl clothes so to them, it is normal but for my oldest (14) It was tough. She did not see most of it until later in life and being 11 at the time, she had enough of her own issues to deal with let alone me adding more to the mix. Needless to say that conversation and many to follow were difficult at best. I had taken what she knew was her dad and showed he a side she had never seen before. In those moments I felt that I had failed her. She spent almost a year not wanting to speak to me about any of it.
My oldest is like me in many ways, She can hold a grudge past forever and boy does she have the attitude. Her love of music however was her release. It was also how we reconnected. I was working on a paper for school listening to one of my favorite groups, Against Me!, and more precisly I was listening to the “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” album. She walked by and slowed down just out of interest at the new sounds she had not heard yet and later that evening she asked me if I would allow her to listen to It more. She listened to it non stop for days, even singing some of the songs as she further enjoyed the education that was coming along with the lyrics. Later that week I was approached by her to have a talk about the whole situation and was I shocked when she said “I understand what you have been dealing with and I love you no matter what, I love you either way”. Laura Jane Grace and Against Me! had not only helped my child cope with something others never even knew existed but she also gave me hope for a better future. Against me not only saved us, they gave us an amazing memory as that became my oldest daughters first concert.
No matter how I look or dress, I will always be their daddy and that will never change. To be different is to be real and to survive this journey my wife and girls have had to transition along with me. Even when it seemed impossible they stuck through it all. In no way can I say it has been easy on my wife and kids but I can sure tell you it has made them stronger.
“Life’s a transition, everyone’s in transition. I’m not who I was yesterday and I’m not the person I’m going to be tomorrow. I’m just figuring out as I go along, just as everyone else is doing.” – Laura Jane Grace