In March 1994, I gave birth to my second child, a beautiful, perfectly formed little girl. We named her Bridget. Within her tiny body, Bridget stored a huge secret. The secret was called gender. That secret was kept for another 22 years. Bridget grew just like her sister. They played with dolls and trucks, dress ups and bats and balls. They both played sport and loved camping. Bridget was nine when she started wearing boy’s clothes. She didn’t like all the pink and sparkle. She was comfortable in boy’s clothes and was accepted through out school just as she was.
“Mum, I want to become a man”
Not the words I was expecting to hear as I was putting the washing away. I had just been run over by the emotion bus. Guilt, sorrow, fear, relief and happiness coursed through my nervous system. Keeping this emotional cocktail under control while listening to my child was almost impossible so I did what many have done, cried. Why all these emotions?
Guilt for not recognising this earlier. When I had suspicions, should I have done more?
Sorrow for the confusion, aloneness and sadness my child has felt in the past.
Fear for other’s reactions. Would my child be safe and happy?
Relief, finally it was out and not a secret anymore.
Happiness as my child was going to reach their full potential and they had shared this information with me.
After much talking, crying and hugging I asked why it had took so long to say something. “I wasn’t ready for the conversation,” came the reply. I told her that this was her bus to steer. I would support her 100%. More hugs, then I went upstairs and started grieving the loss of my daughter. I made a promise to be honest and open to her, my family and to myself.
Brad started testosterone injections soon after. He has undergone a second puberty and in his words, “This one feels so right.” He has suffered his first bout of ‘man flu,’ which he tells me is apparently something only men can possibly understand. He has undergone lots of physical changes and had an operation to remove his breasts and reconstruct his chest. He has had to tell many people including family, friends, work colleagues and clients, all with positive reactions. We have celebrated all these steps with him. I look at Brad and see a brave young man who is the happiest I’ve ever seen him.
Gender is not defined by the biological or physiological characteristics of a person. Gender is far more intrinsic than that. The first book I read about gender, about six years ago, became plastered in post it notes. I was learning so much! My advice to anyone is to find out as much as they can about this subject because you start to see people differently. We can’t all fit into two boxes and that’s okay.