- After my essay went viral, I naively thought everyone now loved trans children.
- Seeing mean comments on social media tore me down and made me feel a bit scared.
- The whole experience reminded me how I would have to keep standing up for my child.
Last month, I got a note from my editor at Insider telling me the essay I wrote about my young trans son coming out was published and a lot of people were reading it. I was happy to hear it.
Sharing our story has been therapeutic, but it still leaves me feeling raw and exposed. I already feel like my heart is outside me on a daily basis when I send my children out into the world.
While writing about my feelings around raising my transgender son may be selfish in some ways – it helps me process my own feelings – the decision to share the words I write is anything but. It’s scary, emotional, and mixed with a little anxiety. But I do think it’s needed.
I had naively thought that the note from my editor meant a lot of people were reading my essay and loving it. When I went to Facebook to see where the article was shared, I was hit with a dose of reality. While some people loved the essay, many hated my message.
The negative comments made me doubt myself. When things aren’t crystal clear, doubt pushes itself through to the forefront. When I was able to quiet the noise, I remembered what was most important here: communication with my partner and child – letting him know that he is loved no matter how he identifies.
The mean comments got to me
When we started on this journey about three years ago, I dug into the depths of the internet to find stories that sounded like ours. Over time, I have built a support system and a pool of resources – from support groups and therapists to educators I follow on social media – that help me understand what might be going on in my son’s life and how to communicate best with him and make me feel validated as a parent.
In the beginning, I wanted knowledge and comfort immediately. I wanted answers, and I wanted to know who I was supposed to reach out to and for what. But it didn’t happen like that. I had to be patient.
The loneliness during this time pushed me to put words to my feelings and publish my initial essay. I want to support children and parents on this journey. It’s gray, confusing, and overwhelming. I want to help make it more colorful, compassionate, and peaceful.
The hate I received on social media momentarily took away my focus. I read almost all the comments and cried over them. I couldn’t write for a couple of weeks. I was scared.
I reached out to one of the people I’ve added to my support system, the author, healer, nonbinary-rights educator, and all-around amazing human Jeffrey Marsh. While they told me they didn’t have anything particularly comforting to offer except that they had been there themselves, their words felt like a hug.
“Please let what you saw today spur you on to end hate in all its forms. Let today remind you of how important and relevant your voice is,” Marsh told me.
I cried some more and sat there. Eventually, it all sank in and helped me rise up – something I imagine I’ll have to continue to do over and over as a parent of a gender-nonconforming kid.
I’ve decided to share my words because if I could help even one or two trans kids by helping their parents in those fragile and overwhelming beginnings, then that’s it. That’s my “why.”
Editor’s note: The author has remained anonymous to avoid outing their son during his journey of coming out.