Editor’s Note: I am pleased to feature the following post written by Mary Moss, an incredible parent from New York that I had the good fortune to meet last year. Mary describes herself as a feisty single mom to a terrific 14 year-old boy who just happens to be transgender, but she is a lot more than that. Mary is also a founding member of the New York Citizens for Transgender Rights (NYCTR), a regular contributing writer on transgender issues for the New York Timesunion.com, and moderator of a private Facebook group for parents and family members of transgender kids. Committed to spreading awareness, Mary and her son Chris have filmed television specials for French audiences, participated in an Australian documentary and they recently appeared on The Katie Couric Show. I feel very lucky to be able to call Mary my friend.
When your child is born, you are full of hope, joy and a vision for their future. You may hope your son shares your love of baseball or your daughter shares your love of ballet. Your heart is filled with promise of a better future for your child. You see yourself in that child.
What if your vision is not even close to a reality? What if your son had no interest in baseball and your daughter hated ballet? What if the apple fell very very far from the tree? What if your daughter was really your son?
That very topic is covered in author Andrew Solomon’s book: Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity. I met Andrew when my son and I taped the Katie Couric show. Andrew was one of the guests and he astonished me with his brilliance.
Andrew’s powerful book covers the very real occurrence of children being very different than their parents expected, very different indeed. One of the chapters in his book covers transgender children.
Andrew’s book discusses one the most valuable lessons I have learned raising a transgender child and that is that you must let go of all expectations of your child. Children are not extensions of their parents. Parents must learn to accept their children, as they are not what they expect them to be. It is the true lesson of unconditional love.
Andrew says it’s all about love and acceptance. He stresses the importance of parental support for transgender children. He says “many families love their child but aren’t able to accept who their child is. Many of them, if they can keep the love alive, can get to acceptance”
I realized through my son’s transition that it was my son’s heart and soul that I loved not his gender. His heart and soul wasn’t affected by him transitioning. If anything it grew even deeper and more beautiful in my eyes.
Songwriter Mary Haskell wrote: “Nothing you become will disappoint me; I have no preconception I’d like to see you be or do. I have no desire to foresee you only to discover you. You can’t disappoint me.”
I believe we all long to be truly accepted as we are not as others expect or wish we would be. We all want to be loved and wanted for who we are. We all want to belong. If I can do anything for my son I will feel a success as a parent if he grows up never doubting my love and acceptance for him. That would be my greatest joy.