My name is Lori and I am the mother two daughters, ages 15 and 13. My 15-year-old daughter Kaeleigh is transgender.
Although “K” was identified as a male at birth, and was raised as a boy, she did not seem to want to be categorized that way. At the age of 2, she began to tell me sometimes that she was female. I of course would correct her and point out that she had a penis and was therefore a boy!
Through the next few years we reassured and encouraged our “son” to be “himself”…and assured “him” that just as there were lots of “tomboys” in this world, there were plenty of “girly boys” too…and that was okay.
K always seemed happiest playing dress-up at home, and even went to kindergarten as “Dorothy” for Halloween. The self-portraits that were drawn back then always had Kaeleigh with long hair and a dress, and the Christmas wish list to Santa included a dress or skirt.
As you can imagine, our “son’s” continued behavior did worry us, and when we did some research at the library (no extensive internet back then!) we found that our child had an increased chance of being gay or transgender. At that time, the books maintained that the chance of being transgender was still very slim – and that treatments were limited to adulthood – so we continued with life and hoped for the best.
By 2nd grade, most of the overtly “girly” behavior disappeared, and my husband and I were relieved that our child seemed to leave the girly-boy behind (on the outside), Unfortunately, as we now know, Kaeleigh only suppressed those feelings. Through the end of grade school, something seemed “off”. And as adolescence arrived, she became more depressed and distracted, and later, began to wound herself.
Thankfully, through the power of the internet, our daughter became informed about being transgender – (there is a name for it! there are others like me!) and eventually, at the age of 14, she was able to “come out” to her family. Because of our previous research, we were not surprised by the term “transgender” – and we vowed to be supportive of her.
Soon after revealing to us, she came out to friends, family, school, and the world as “Kaeleigh”
We definitely have our ups and downs – as parents, we fight the guilt of not having “seen” the truth earlier and acted upon it. If I had it to do all over again, I would not be afraid to simply ask: “Are you really a girl in a boy’s body?” And Kaeleigh fights regret at having suppressed her true self for so long, and she fights anger that she did not get medical treatment at an earlier age.
Change is never easy, but it can lead to great things. For us, this change has given us a new child – one who can be true to herself! She is a strong and lovely woman of incredible courage, and we are hopeful and excited about her future.