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My DD 20 came out as trans - I am desperate to feel happy but feel so sad.

(75 Posts)
rosieposey Wed 13-Jan-16 01:30:34

I have never ever posted in AIBU but i really dont want this to disappear into chat incase that it ever helps someone else in my position ( as i think that chat is for 30 days only ) so i am posting here for traffic really as i feel so lost.

I've been trying to articulate into words the things that i want to say. i have been a member on here since 2008 always had this user name and this is probably the first time that i have really asked for help.

My DD came out as gay when she was 16 ( 4 years ago ) we were a little shocked ( i dont know why ) but i have 5 children and we are a close knit family and were so supportive of her because like all parents we just wanted her to be happy. She has had a couple of gf's and we have been pretty laid back in terms of the dynamics of my family ( 3 dd's 18, 20,23 and two DS's 3 and 6 ) and been really positive about it all.

She told me just before Christmas that she was depressed and felt really anxious, i was really surprised at this because i had always thought that she was pretty sorted mentally.

I reassured her that whatever what bothering her and whatever she needed to talk about i would be here for her however her older sister came to me in tears 4 days ago and said that she had something to tell me about her sister and it was pretty life changing. She told me that her sister wanted to not be female anymore and that she wanted to begin to transition into a man. Anyway i had a long chat with DD2 and she said that the reason for her anxiety and depression was that she had been struggling for two or three years with the fact that she wasnt happy in her body and that she had though about suicide a couple of times because she didnt think that we would be able to accept it. I have to tell the truth here and i am very ashamed but i did say to her once not long after she came out that i could cope with her being gay but i didnt know how i would be able to cope if she wanted to change gender ( in my ignorance )

In all honesty when i was told this all i could do was be thankful and relieved about that she had told me and it was a huge weight off her shoulders , i said i would be with her/him every step of the way and that there was nothing to be afraid of as she/he would have the full backing of her family and i mean every word of it.

This is a selfish thread as its all about me and how much i am struggling with this. She/he asked me to give them their new male name ... how do i do that? I have cried in private for days and nights about this because i dont actually want to - i love her name, i love the beautiful baby girl that i raised for 20 years and i am going to miss her so much. I know that in essence she/he will be the same person i know that and i know that i am very lucky as apparently my recent reading material tells me that one in every two transgender people attempt suicide - i hope and pray that is never my child.

I suppose i need to see it all written down so that i can come to terms with it and accept it. I am committed to going to the gender clinic and all of the appointments. He told me that he has some great you tube videos to show me about transitioning but really can i be honest? Its only been three days, i am struggling so much with fear. I am scared that she will be beaten up by men who think she is a tiny or abnormal male ( she is 5.2 with tiny hands ) when she takes hormones she will grow hair and get an adams apple and a deep voice not to mention the surgery that she wants - i want her to be treated like a man for her sake but i am scared for her.

I am scared that my ds's will get bullied as they are only 3 and 7 and kids are so cruel. I honestly dont know where to start in telling my 7 year old that his sister in two weeks will want to become known as his brother ... can anyone who has been through this recommend a book or a help line ... anything to hep us please?

I wont bang on about how upset i am because when all is said and done her/his happiness is all that is important, i just wish i knew where to start because this is going to happen to us as a family and it is going to be life changing and that is fine i just wish i had some help dealing with it. Please be kind, its hard to describe that you are in pieces whilst at the same time feel pride and admiration for that person but not for yourself.

LittleBearPad Wed 13-Jan-16 01:59:28

flowers I have no idea what to say as I have no experience in this area but hope someone will be along soon to help.

FrancisdeSales Wed 13-Jan-16 02:01:42

I feel for you OP, I think your reaction is completely normal. Nowadays there seems to be a set narrative and it is that everyone surrounding a person who declares themselves as trans must immediately accept the decision, embrace it and never have any conflicting thoughts or emotions themselves. I think this is unrealistic and is not acknowledging that loved ones are going to be very confused and experiencing loss and pain too.

Potatoface2 Wed 13-Jan-16 02:07:15

i dont know what i can say to help as i have never had any experience of this, but i do think that seeing your GP about referals to the relevant professionals will include some counselling for your child and yourself...it will be life changing and it will take time to adjust, but it will become easier....i wish you and your child all the best

Sansoora Wed 13-Jan-16 02:14:52

Rosie, you are allowed to feel like this. Francis got it spot on!

You sound like a lovely mum. flowers

manicinsomniac Wed 13-Jan-16 02:26:28

I don't think you have to feel okay with it. Your feelings are your feelings and they can't be wrong. What matters is how you act towards your DD and I'm any sure that will never be with anything other than love and support.

I have no idea how I'd handle or explain it except that I would try to do the best I could day to day.

This may or may not be something you and your family deal with forever. You say that your daughter has been depressed and unhappy with who she is for some time. This could be manifesting in gender dysphoria, just as depression and unhappiness with who they are manifest in other young girls as body dysmorphia. Has your daughter had counselling to help her with her identity?

Want2bSupermum Wed 13-Jan-16 02:29:45

I read your post and so hear what you are saying. As a parent you don't want your DC to struggle and when they do, regardless of the task, you want them to succeed.

I have no experience myself but my old neighbor's son has at 6 declared that he is to be female. They as a family go to counseling and their son who has a gender identity issue goes on his own too. One day he might decide to identify as female but for now the family are very much leaving it open.

I think you should ask at the clinic what help is available for your family. I would also want to know that your transitioning DD/DS is getting enough emotional support through therapy. There is another poster on MN whose child has gone through this and if you do a search their username should come up. I will try to take a look later for it but I don't have much time.

Italiangreyhound Wed 13-Jan-16 02:36:28

rosieposey I am so sorry this must be so hard for you and for her too. I have no experience of this personally or in my wider family but have read quite a lot in the past year.

There has been so much in the media about it and there is a rather interesting facebook group called 'Discussing gender critical & gender identity'

There is also a very interesting series of American stories about real life trans young people called Transgeneration. They are all available on the Internet.

It features two trans women and two trans men. All young college students. www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkg5GgOpcVI

The series is divided up into 5 episodes, which are each put into about 5 parts. I am not suggesting you watch it if it is too difficult to do so, but you may find it is helpful for you to see some further examples. I am not suggesting necessarily that you get your daughter to watch it.

I do wonder sometimes how much social media has aided people deciding/realising/feeling transgender.

(it's quite American but also features a trans man from Armenia and a trans women from The Phillapines, both of whom are actually very interesting to watch and speak very articulately.)

Italiangreyhound Wed 13-Jan-16 02:44:25

Lots of good advice has come in while I have been writing my post!

I agree it could be body dysphoria, some young women find boobs, periods, and all the restrictions they experience as females can be very hard. It doesn't necessarily mean it is gender dysphoria. Hopefully professionals will be able to help. I think mental health issue can contribute to all this feeling of disconnectedness.

I also agree to keeping it open, as 'open' (non specific) as your dd will allow you to. I rarely think about being female except in situations where my body is related, e.g. giving birth, or having a bath or feeling unsafe walking home at night. So lots of life stuff like eating dinner, watching TV, going to bed, etc, if just me, not me as a woman, just me. It may be that this will come to dominate so I hope some stuff can just be normal life and fun.

I am sure you will look after yourself and her too, work on just being there for her, have fun together, maybe don't let every conversations be about this all the time, if it is possible just have some mum and child time.

Whatever happens she will be the same person she was, whatever she does to her body, her clothes or whatever, the child you bore is there.

As someone else said there were some active threads here before (in AIBU and also in LGBT children about this topic so if you search back, use the search feature, you could find some other parents who have been through this.

I say parents, not children, because I have only seen parents posting on this topic, not children affected by it (I know she is now an adult, but you know what I mean).

Italiangreyhound Wed 13-Jan-16 02:50:50

Lastly, (I've broken my posts up because they were so long!) I would also say that you do not need to agree with everything she thinks or believes to be loving and supportive, you can be there for her even if you may not feel this is right for her.

As others have said it is OK to be unhappy about this, you are right to feel that this is a big deal. Please just make sure you find support for you so you can vent (here and in real life) and not vent things directly to dd. She probably cannot handle all of your feelings about this as well as her own. Maybe she can, who knows, but I think it is best to make sure you have support and ways of getting information etc, things directed for you so when you give her your attention you are not looking to her to answer all your questions. I am sorry if that sounds really obvious.

Hopefully, this process will be one she is encouraged to question and to think through. In this time she may develop further ideas and whatever she decides, however her life leads, she is still your baby.

Please do not worry too much what others will say, or what your other children will think. I do understand that it is hard and feels like a big issue for them to, but I just feel first and foremost you need to be there or her.

Just for the record I think women can wear any clothes they like, do any job they want, play with any toys they like, have any name they want, be in loving relationships with whomever they choose. they do not need to take Testosterone or hormones or change their bodies but I think we do and should have autonomy over our bodies.

She is an adult and your best chance to be that lovely, loving influence that I am sure you are is just to be there for her, it doesn't mean you need to agree to everything, or even anything, you may well not be asked if you agree, - but do be by her side and try not to worry too much how much anyone else will cope.

Sending best wishes to you and your lovely child.

ChristineDePisan Wed 13-Jan-16 02:57:39

Perhaps you need to grieve for the DD you are losing? And I don't think that there is anything wrong with doing that flowers

LeaLeander Wed 13-Jan-16 03:05:11

It must feel very bewildering and frightening. flowers you sound like a great mom. Be kind to yourself.

Ipsos Wed 13-Jan-16 03:25:33

I know someone who switched from being a woman to a man, and I think that one of the things that helps him is having a male friend to give lessons on how to behave as a man. My friend used to rush up and coo over babies and touch them in a way that might have been appropriate for a woman but really wasn't for a man, and really freaked the mothers out. (You'd have to see it to understand.) I think if your dd can find someone to teach her how to behave as a man in day to day life it will really help to keep her safe.

Yanbu, it must be a shock.

It's good that you have a large family as is will be a buffer for your dd to try her new persona at home. I would try to keep home as a safe and accepting place for her so that she doesn't not feel the need to go elsewhere for acceptance, which might be riskier initially.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 13-Jan-16 03:59:32

I wouldn't be happy if this was my child. Where does she see herself fitting in if she transitions? At 5'2 and slight she won't make a convincing man and lesbians will stop being interested in her. Straight women probably won't be interested in her either. I'm not saying this to be cruel but it's important to think about. Trans people can find it very hard to date within the group they are interested in.
She will lose the lesbian community- not sure if she is much involved in it yet but it's a huge source of positive identity and role that she'd be cutting herself off from.
I'm not diminishing her feelings of dysphoria but I question whether transitioning is always the solution to dysphoria and whether the results (including the social issues and massive, massive health issues) are not going to bring their own issues that could make her equally as unhappy.
Lots of talking to do from here on in.

VashtaNerada Wed 13-Jan-16 04:16:12

Hi OP. I think it's completely normal to be shocked and worried in this situation but it will be okay. I know quite a few young trans people whose lives have been made so much better by transitioning so there is plenty of hope. Some things I would bear in mind:

- Although I would never go down the "it's just a phase" route, it's important to recognise that gender identity is complex and they may not always feel like this. If they're at the start of their journey they'll need time, space and understanding to work out exactly who they are and what they want to do about it.

- There are some very scary stats out there about suicide etc but don't forget there are still many parents who would throw their child out of home over this and cut off contact. A loving family goes a long way to combatting the risk of social isolation faced by many trans people.

- Lots of trans people go on to live happy, fulfilled lives.

- It's perfectly normal for it to be a shock and for name and pronoun changes to take time to get right. I would try my best to though (even bearing in mind my first point) because it can make a big difference to someone's mental health if they feel they are being listened to and respected on this point.

- There are groups out there who can support trans people and their families (Gendered Intelligence are my favourite)

A word of warning about MN though, I've come across some very nasty transphobia on here before - saying that people who are transmasculine (this is one of the terms your child may use for their identity) are betraying lesbianism, mutilating their bodies, mentally ill, or just attention-seeking. Do not listen to that. Just spend some time with your child and support them in any way you can, it won't always seem so bleak.

knobblyknee Wed 13-Jan-16 05:19:13

You dont need to feel happy, you just need to accept him the way it is.

And to do that means being allowed to grieve for all that will never be. flowers

FreshwaterSelkie Wed 13-Jan-16 06:09:22

flowers op. I think you're allowed to feel your feelings as much as you need to. It's a big change for your whole family, and these things take time to adjust to.

This site might be some help, it's written by a mother in the same position as you are, and she went through a similar reaction to you I think. Her daughter in the end decided not to transition.

jchocchip Wed 13-Jan-16 07:03:29

I have a non binary child who has chosen a neutral name. I struggle with pronouns and grieve the loss of the daughter I love. There does seem to be an epidemic of gender dysphoria which just wasn't explored as much when I was growing up. I'm sure I expressed feeling of wanting to be a boy like my brothers and played with boys at primary school more than girls. I don't think gender was such a negotiable thing then. I did know a couple of transexual people growing up, but it was the exception not the norm and likely to get you on the front page of the Sunday papers (it did them). I'm not convinced that gender should matter as much as it does. Why should we put people in boxes according to their genitals? Just let people be whoever they want to be and have whatever career they want irrespective of gender. I never wanted my girls to have piercings or tattoos, so the idea of top surgery and hormones ... It is their life though, and I hope they find a way to be relaxed and happy in their skin. I think it is normal to grieve the loss of the child you have birth to, but I love my non binary just the same.

TheWomanInTheWall Wed 13-Jan-16 07:15:33

<hugs> OP. It is ok to feel scared and worried. Support your child to take his time over any irrevocable steps. Has your child ever had any specific treatment for depression? This might be a first step.

SomebodySedateMe Wed 13-Jan-16 07:18:29

obsidian that's not very helpful at all. Being trans is not a choice. No more than sexuality is. Speculating about dating prospects is damaging.

My experience here comes from my oldest friend who at 14 made the decision that he wanted to transition (female to male). This was 16 years ago and it really wasn't widely talked about - certainly not something you saw on tv or social media. His mom struggled too but after counselling as a family realised that her child was still her child. He was so much happier once he started using his new name and embracing his real identity.

He's had top and bottom surgery which isn't something that all trans people do. It took a long time to get to that point and wasn't something he rushed in to. He's never going to be a tall man (5 ft 3) but I can assure you that nobody has ever picked on him for his size. Those who didn't know him before would never question his gender. Looking back now it's impossible to see him as anyone else.

Good luck OP - I'd suggest counselling as a starting point. Take it from there. Just remember that whatever you do here is for your child, it's ok for them to be whoever they feel comfortable being.

HeteronormativeHaybales Wed 13-Jan-16 07:32:04

flowers

I don't have any experience or wise advice to share, but I recently read Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon and there was a very empathetic and thought-provoking chapter in there about trans people/children and their families. It might be worth a read for you. (The whole book is a great read, in fact).

DaggerEyes Wed 13-Jan-16 07:40:25

You're going to miss your daughter, but you have been asked to be a huge part of creating a new son. Giving him his new name! Anyway, could you have a bit of a goodbye session, have a reminisce about all the things you love and will miss about female child, and chat about how new male child will do things differently?? Soooo....pack up female clothes, be sad, but help pick out male wardrobe?? You don't have to hide your sadness, let your dd help you too, she has to help you transition into being a mum of a trans male, it's a journey.

Alconleigh Wed 13-Jan-16 07:48:51

You sound lovely OP. It's only the start of a journey, which may or may not end in transitioning. Counselling etc will explore whether transitioning is really the answer or whether the anxiety and dislocation being experienced is actually rooted in something else.
I think the concerns about future partners etc are valid to think about, but probably not something to raise now.
Personally I am sceptical about quite a lot of the current trans narrative (the lobbying to put violent criminals with penises in women's prisons with zero regard for women's safety, the horrifying notion that is the cotton ceiling etc), but that wouldn't stop me gently supporting someone in my life struggling with their identify.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 13-Jan-16 07:51:35

I know that people don't choose to have gender dysphoria. I just don't accept that hormones and surgery are the only or best treatment for it.

Alisvolatpropiis Wed 13-Jan-16 07:58:00

I understand what you're saying op, it must be very difficult. As a pp mentioned it can't be made easier to deal with by the recently set narrative which dictates you must brightly and breezily accept gender dysphoria as though it is a positive thing for all it affects. And it isn't just the sufferer whose life it has an impact on, as your post clearly demonstrates.

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