*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.*
At the tender age of thirteen, my daughter sent me a text message because she was too afraid to share what she wanted to say to my face. All it said was:
“Mom, I think I like girls the way I’m supposed to like boys.”
My heart swelled with pride for the courage I knew it took for her to admit that to me, and happiness that she felt comfortable enough to tell me at all. I know that “staying in the closet” is something many people do when they are afraid of facing the stigma of having different preferences for the people they love.
My daughter, Tori, had a few crushes on girls throughout her early teen years, but nothing ever came of them. Now, she’s seventeen and focused on doing well at school, and talk of dating, whether it be with girls or boys, hasn’t been brought up in ages. She just isn’t interested at the moment, but when she is, whoever she decides to date, I will be there for her and support her in her choices.
My friend Carrie and her husband Adam had a much harder time dealing with their child’s coming out - not because they didn’t accept their child and love them for who they are, but because they were so afraid the world would reject them.
One day, when he was eleven, Carrie and Adam’s son Jake told them that he felt like he was really a girl. This did not surprise Jake’s parents at all, as Jake had always been the type of boy who preferred more “girly” activities like playing with dolls, playing house and being the ‘mom’, trying on and playing in his older sister’s dresses, and just in general being a gentle, effeminate type.
Carrie and Adam immediately got Jake a therapist who dealt with transgendered children, and the couple supported their child into transitioning into the girl they felt they were.
The first big changes that were made were Jake’s name and style of dress. Jake began going by Julia and using she/her pronouns, which was rather surprisingly accepted by the teaching staff and even the children where Julia attended school.
Julia’s family, however, was not prepared or willing to accept the changes in her life, and they made it quite known to Carrie and Adam.
“He’s a boy and you’re letting him play dress up!” Carrie’s mother yelled at her over the phone. “You’re going to ruin his life if you let him keep acting this way, I can’t believe I raised you like this! Don’t ever expect me to call him Julia, that’s disgusting!”
Carrie, in turn, couldn’t believe that her mother would reject her own grandchild for any reason at all.
“If you won’t accept Julia for who she is now, you won’t be seeing us again,” Carrie told her mother.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” her mother argued. “Get Jake the therapy he needs to get this sorted out. I’ll pay for it if you can’t. I think there are camps you can send him to.”
That’s when Carrie knew she would never get through to her mother. She hung up on her phone mid-sentence while her mother ranted and has not seen or spoken to her in four years.
Julia, and her family, are thriving just fine without the grandparent’s judgment.
How would you have reacted?
Hi, I hope you enjoyed this story! I am a freelance writing single mom trying to create a better life for me and my daughter through words. If you enjoyed this, please consider leaving a small donation: https://ko-fi.com/maryduncan
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