“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”—Angela Schwindt
A year ago, my very good friend came to me to share that her daughter was transgender and would now be identifying as a boy. Our families have been friends since her child was two and mine was just an infant (they are now 9 and 7). Our families have shared play dates, BBQ’s, and family camping trips. At the time, my perspective was to emotionally support my friend in any way she needed as she navigated a new reality of advocacy and support for her child.
A few weeks later, we were getting together for a play date. It was time for me to talk to my two children about what it means to be transgender and wanting so badly for them to be at that play date and be the friends they needed to be.
I sat the kids down and explained to them that their friend that they know as a girl feels strongly in her heart that she is a boy and will now be living life as a boy. I explained that it means that she will be dressing as a boy, we will say he instead of she, and she has changed her name. My daughter accepted, in such a simple way of true unconditional love, this truth for her friend. It was very simple for her: she wanted her friend to be happy. She also thought it was amazing that he changed his name and she too wanted to change her name to Katy Perry. I quickly explained to my daughter that unless she is transgender or 18, she is not going to change her name! They arrived for the play date and for the kids, it was basically as if nothing had changed.
For a while, my daughter was a little advocate for her friend. If anyone would use his previous name or accidentally say her or she, she would be the first one to correct them. She especially loved to correct the adults because it took them a little bit longer to adjust because of habit.
A couple of weeks ago, I had asked my daughter to draw a picture of her friend hoping to add it to this segment. My daughter has always enjoyed drawing, does it a lot, and has a creativity in her art that is unique. I was looking forward to seeing what she came up with considering this was the first transgender person she has known and there have been big changes for her friend this year. She worked on the picture for a while and then brought it to me. It was a realistic picture of her friend playing basketball with his brother. At first I was disappointed, seeing that it was just a very basic picture. Now I realize that it really speaks volumes to how my daughter feels. She just sees this person as her friend, not as someone who is transgender, not someone who is different, just her friend.
There are many times in my life where I feel that my job as a mother is the daunting task of teaching my daughter an overwhelming amount of lessons each day. How to work hard and be proud of your work, how to navigate friendships, how to be responsible, how to be loving. My daughter is a wonderful teacher for me on how to unconditionally love the people who are close to us and hold their happiness above all else, including gender.
Published with permission from a mother of a close friend of a young trans child in our advocacy network.