By Jen Khatchatrian, Chicago Moms Blog
“You are setting him up to fail” was the last thing I heard before my throat began to tighten and my eyes flooded with tears. How could my own family say such things to me? “I will not listen to you!” sputtered out of my mouth as I frantically searched for the button to drop the call. Did that just happen?
Heavy sobs rippled through me as I heard their final words ring through my head. Earlier in the conversation I shared that I was searching for a transgender play group for my child who has known for almost two years that he is a girl inside. Just recently he began wearing his dresses outside of the house and mentioning his loneliness for friends who felt the same way as he did. I assured him that I would find a play group and felt confident this was a positive step in supporting him as he navigated through his feelings.
Earlier in the day I felt disheartened after a trip to the Center on Halsted (well known for their support of the LGBT community) only resulted in a voice mail message. Instead of everything quickly falling into place as I hoped, I had to be patient and wait. If I thought that the frustration of the delay was bad, the phone call I made looking for some encouragement ended up being the lowest point of my day.
It was a shock when my family member told me I was doing the wrong thing and “setting him up to fail.” Is feeling like a gender that is different from the sex of your body a failure? Do they think I am pushing him to become transgender? How could supporting my child’s expression of himself make him into someone that he is not? My biggest failure would be for him think my love was conditional or ask him to be anything other than who he is inside.
All of the sudden it dawned on me. There is a reason that 31 percent of the children who do not get help for a gender identity issue end up committing suicide and over 50 percent attempt suicide by age 20. Could you imagine feeling like you had to act like someone else for your whole life? Could you imagine feeling like your family wanted you to hide who you were inside just because they are either scared or narrow-minded? I made up my mind right then that I am not letting fear or anyone else stand in my way. For my children, I am fearless. I am their mother.
I can’t say what the future holds or where this journey takes us. What I do know is that we will take one step at a time without shame, but with the knowledge that love binds us together unconditionally.
An original Chicago Moms Blog post. Jen Khatchatrian is a freelance writer who focuses on conservation, parenting and health as The Eco Chic Organizer and has been published in this month’s issue of Mindful Metropolis.