Parental Fog and the Unmet Needs of Some Transgender Kids

"Fog Mist" By Pat Green
“Fog Mist”
By Pat Green

 

There are some things that my son gets that I take for granted. Every time I call in a prescription refill on his testosterone, it is just another item in the day. Every exam just is. Each visit to the hospital for parent/teen support night is part of the month. Going to court to get his name changed was not something done with remorse. The same is true for his clothes, validation in school, and so many other things. This is just something I do as a parent. I am learning as I go through this road, how many kids are not getting the things they need because of their parents. I remember the fog.

I’ve told the story of how my son came out to me. I did not talk about the next day. The next day I talked to a woman I knew who worked at a medical clinic that dealt with mostly LGBTQIA members. She gave me a name of someone to speak with in her clinic about transgender issues.

I called and asked for the person I was supposed to speak with. Their name was Blue. I told Blue that my child just came out as a trans boy and I did not know what the next steps were. I had no clue. I did not know the language, I did not know his rights, I did not know what was medically allowed and I did not want to screw this up any more than I did when he came out.

Blue listened and answered as many questions as they could and then told me that my son was too young for their program and I would be better suited going to Lurie Children’s Hospital. I was given a number of the program director to speak with and her name.

I called, left a voice mail, and then waited as I went about my day at work. I got the call back and I learned a whole new world. I was given resources, links, reading material, opportunities to network with other parents, and an appointment for my son to get the ball rolling on his transition.

Getting to know other parents was the most critical aspect to understanding. There was one mom who was the walking encyclopedia on what our kids go through and what we need to know. Without her, I never would have been where I am in this road.

I would learn about pronouns, puberty blockers, binders, hormone therapy, therapists, dysphoria, social issues, legal rights and so much more. Over the last 2 years I have had the honor of meeting some of the world’s leading doctors and psychologists in this field. I have been challenged by people who specialize in diversity training. I would meet lobbyists, lawmakers, and lawyers all on the front lines of defending the rights of my child and countless children like him. I would be asked to write letters, go to school board meetings, and even write depositions.

While I am doing all of this there were all these milestones going on. Our first time shopping for men’s clothes together, registering for school in his new name, the first T injection, the first time shaving, the voice deepening, and so much more. Further, while I am going down my road and my son down his road we are making friends. I am knowing parents and advocates and adult LGBTQIA people. He is making friends with other trans and GNC kids throughout our area.

So here we are in our lives. We are both learning. There is growth. We are in the midst of building communities. And I have absolutely no regrets about the decisions I have made as a parent. The whole road we were surrounded by good people who gave us wonderful resources and we made educated decisions that were in his best interests and not my confirmation biases.

I love this and I celebrate it. But, I am also learning that not all the kid’s we encounter are so lucky. Every so often myself or my son will have a child enter our lives who has recently come out. It does not go so well. And it is degrees of adventures in being lost in the fog. Some just refuse to affirm their children in any way, shape, or form. When it goes this far, it literally the difference between life and death.

Then we have the degree that is most frustrating. It is the parents who seem to be on board, are liberal and of means, and will not pursue any transitioning until the child is 18. I have interacted with a few of these parents and it is a maddening conversation each time.

They read something on the internet that made them afraid of the transitioning. Sometimes, if I am allowed to pry a little, I find they have read something that is dated or deliberately slanted by a group with an agenda. They have, in their possession, things that many single parents of transgender teens would love to have. Access to quality health care, financial resources, therapists, and another parent on the same page. It is like having the winning lottery ticket and not using it.

I am not here to “call out” the parents. I know what it is to be lost in the fog. I also know that, for the sake of my son, I am glad I found my way out through community and people who were advocates. Had I remained in the fog, It would have been another year of my son not able to become and to be.

I said it in my last post, our trans children are gifts. Gifts that precious are to be affirmed, cared for, and celebrated.

I recently realized how scary some of my posts must seem to some parents. Yeah, there are bad things in this world and horrible people. There always will be those people. We also have amazing wonders and shared experiences. I know this, had I not worked my way through the fog, my child’s experiences would have been worse. He, as a minor, relies on me to approve some things he legally cannot. To deny him those things would have lessoned him. The acceptance and support of a parent is critical.

In the fog, there are lighthouses guiding us through, all we have to do is look for them and heed their call.

 

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