Two and a half years old is an exciting time for a toddler. They are starting to gain some independence and venturing off to preschool. For my family it wasn’t that easy. While most toddlers are just worried about having fun and making new friends; my child was struggling with his identity.
My child born female but identifies as a male. My first thoughts were that it was just a Tomboy phase until he asked me: “Why didn’t God make me a boy?” I knew this was deeper than just wanting to dress like a boy. My child identifies as a male.
The Ups and Downs
My child was given the birth-name of Nina. He has changed his name since then from Zack and then to Sam. Using the appropriate pronouns is really important to Sam. If a person calls him Nina or refers to him as 'her,' he will correct them and say “I’m not a girl.” As his mom, it was extremely hard to make that shift and whenever I would forget, I would feel terrible because I felt like I was disappointing him.
At two and a half years old, his entire closet were “girl clothes.” When Sam started saying that he wanted to wear boys clothes it was a huge adjustment. I would try to get away with putting on girl clothes to save time and money because I had so many things and I thought it was a phase. But Sam had a different idea and he would not wear the girl’s clothes anymore. This was a moment that I realized, I don’t have a girl anymore.
One thing that has been really difficult has been family and friends acknowledging Sam as a boy and committing to the new name. I have lost many friends and family that would not commit to this. I was blamed and shamed as being a bad parent, even though he is smart, outgoing and happy. How my child identifies has NOTHING to do with parenting. My idea of being a good parent is eliminating the people in our lives that do not support our reality.
As a woman that was raised Catholic; this has been something that I have had to evaluate. When I was growing up in my church, these topics weren’t even allowed to be talked about. So, when Sam became who he is, I decided to become Christian and focus on loving my child unconditionally. I believe that regardless of religion or gender identity that Jesus wanted us all to focus on just loving one another and not judging. I don’t think there is anything wrong with my son, my family or my core values. The world is evolving and I am evolving with it.
Protecting Our Mental Health
I have read many articles that people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community suffer from mental illness. I felt like what I was reading often stemmed them from not understanding themselves or feeling rejected by their families. I want to be aware of this and prevent it for my child. I feel that I can do that by supporting my child.
My immediate family has been onboard with this change as it has come. We are on this journey together. I have had other struggles with friends and family who not only do not support our family and Sam, but are extremely vocal about their own opinions. I will not allow those people to impact my son’s mental health by imposing their beliefs on him. He is a loving child and that is what we continue to focus on.
I thank God everyday for my son. I always wanted a boy and a girl- now I have that. I also thank God for giving me the power and strength to advocate for my child since we live in a world where there’s so much controversy about the Transgender community.
My advice to other families that are facing this is-
to focus on your child,
listen to your child and not all the other opinions (and there will be lots),
give it time,
and try to be delicate about what life was like from their perspective.
**Pic of Sam enjoying the fall weather. Sam is now 5 years old. Picture courtesy of the family.
Pride month is important to me because of my son and the community that he is a part of. His mental health and his overall happiness is my priority.
Life is Love. Happy Pride.