Father of a transgender tween speaks out

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What’s it like to raise a transgender child? In this Thrive exclusive, a father reflects on his experience. Click here to read more about his daughter and a new medical treatment at Children’s that offers hope to transgender teens.

My 12 year old transgender daughter is my mentor. It’s tough to put into words what a profound impact this small person has had in changing my core values, but since the young age of five, she has unknowingly encouraged me to open my eyes and heart to new ideas. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve watched her experience severe emotional pain and physical frustration, but thanks to support and guidance, I’ve watched as she’s become a confident, happy and healthy child. And as she changed, I changed too.

For a lot of men, change is hard. Over the last 25 years, my body has aged. I can no longer run a six minute mile, touch the rim of a basketball hoop or bench press 200 pounds. But my emotional change has been more shocking. Most men rarely experience something that radically adjusts their core values. When it happens, you quickly learn it can force you to revisit your youth and question the foundation you’ve built for your family.

Much of how I used to define myself as a man was passed on from my father. He offered me guidance through values, typical to his upbringing and generation, like “be a man, weather the storm.” Throughout adolescence and young adulthood, I was confident these core beliefs made me the type of man who could help my family strive and prosper. I would later learn that there was a great deal of room for improvement.

What happened next would rock my world, test my marriage, and challenge who I thought I was as a person. My baby, my beautiful son would begin to teach me that he was really my daughter.

After high school, I went into the U.S. Air Force, where I learned discipline. By the end of my four-year tour, I had developed a desire to further my education, and I attended Cornell University, which taught me much about myself and the world around me. Like most people, after college came my marriage and a career. Together my wife and I planned a family, bought a house and started our careers. Once our twins were born, I pictured my life like a modified Norman Rockwell painting: happy family, dogs, toys, church and state. The only change was that the Saturday Evening Post was now web-based, the toys were all digital and we learned from granny’s wisdom via email.

During the next few years I lived in an unaware bliss, an American dream I hoped would continue until retirement and old age. But my wife lived in the real world, a world that recognized one of our children was different. At first she could not put her finger on it, but she knew in her heart and soul that one of our children was special.

As time went on, others recognized the differences too. I saw signs as well, but pretended they were phases; anything more than that was too challenging to my moderate conservatism and pursuit of the American dream. I was convinced we could develop a strategy to love, support and raise our children and by staying “neutral” everything would be okay.

What happened next would rock my world, test my marriage, and challenge who I thought I was as a person. My baby, my beautiful son would begin to teach me that he was really my daughter. She, my son, their friends and my wife would show me that this was no big deal and change does not have to be hard if you love who you are changing for.

I learned real change means acceptance—not tolerance—and an acceptance that includes equal rights and freedoms for my daughter as I’d want for her friends. With time my wife would also begin to forgive me for the time when I denied the truth to try to protect my fragile dream. As I changed, I learned a lot from others too. People who were not on board with the needs of our transgender child taught me that changing people’s perception of “normal” was essential, not just for my daughter’s safety, but for the safety of all children that are perceived as different.

Change itself has not surprised me. What has blown me away is the extreme level of change I’ve experienced. The GLBT mentors I now call my friends are a joy. Difficult soul searching has allowed me to become a real person, a real man and hopefully a leader who, along with my family and others, can change the world in some small way.

I learned real change means acceptance—not tolerance—and an acceptance that includes equal rights and freedoms for my daughter as I’d want for her friends.

As a dad who struggled early on in accepting my daughter, I would like to help other dads. If you attend any transgender meetings or conferences, you will see very few men. You will listen to mothers talk about the difficulties, lack of support and frustration with their husbands. Sometimes they will talk about the loss of a husband and father. Why do men struggle with this? Is it because of the way we are raised?

I’m still most comfortable talking to women about our family and the needs of transgender kids. Women always ask to hear more. When I talk to men, the conversation is much different. Men do not say “tell me more.” When they are supportive, it is in a very different way. They support us or the cause in a silent way.

A year ago I took my daughter to a college class to hear a transgender college professor talk about her life. I wanted her to see that there are a number of strong, successful transgender women that she can admire and emulate as she continues to develop her own core values. Sitting proudly in that classroom as a changed man, I don’t like to think about what I may have said if that same transgender professor had come to my classroom 25 years ago.

I used to believe there was only one way to create the foundation for a “normal” life. I now know a family working together, exploring new ideas and being open to change builds a much stronger foundation that will stand the test of time. The shelter that you build on this foundation will help fend off most of the damaging opinions and fears of others and protect you from the rules that society considers “normal.”

My children and my wife taught me what my life experiences, early mentors and society at-large could never: that we must live both for our children and through our children.

Want to learn more about this dad’s daughter and her experience as a transgender tween? Read the full story here. An excerpt:

Ryan is now 12 and goes by the name Sylvia. In skinny jeans and metallic ballet flats, painted nails and pigtails, she comes off as an energetic tween girl. She’s the more gregarious of the twins, but her bubbly disposition also serves as a protective facade: Since that first therapy visit at age 6, Sylvia has been in counseling to help her cope with anxiety and depression. In a world where everything is divvied up according to gender, there’s little room for a kid who falls somewhere in the middle.

  • JessicaSideways

    I wish my father was as mature as this man. Unfortunately though, he’s a deadbeat loser that tried to drug it out of me (I was on a number of psychotropic drugs from Adderall to Zyprexa) and then, when that didn’t work, to send me to ex-gay camps to teach me how to “pray away the gay” (because in their ignorance, they see transsexualism as being gay).

    • Sarah Hoffman

      Jessica–so, so painful! And yet so many people have gone through what you have. It means a lot that dads like this are open to change.

    • ErinRandt

      you’re father sounds like a cowardly prickish loser.

      i happen to be a christian and i know for a fact that the bible does not hate the homosexuals nore the transgender i hope you’re father finds what it means to be a real father and a true christian

  • Wynneg

    A beautifully written and emotionally touching piece! Bravo, brave Dad, Bravo!

  • Poetofca73

    i liked the storie it was good

  • Starrthinks

    This is great. I hope this family is keeping themselves well informed and has a local support network.

  • TLR

    If only more of us in the trans community had supportive parents like you. <3

  • Chris

    It is so meaningful to hear this experience from a father’s eyes. And I think it’s important too, that you were brought up in such a conservative life since it allows you to see both sides. Someone who isn’t sure how they would have responded to a transgender professor 25 years ago, has the amazing gift of being able to see what he once was and what he can be and to share both with the world. Keep on keepin’ on….

  • Oshee

    Thank you for this very moving story.
    I am a person who was born with male genitalia and assigned “boy” at birth, and was in fact neither boy nor girl, and am neither man nor woman. I still struggle for acceptance of my true identity, in a world that assumes everyone is one or the other.

    I pray that parents and families of children like me — who are their own unique genders, neither boys nor girls — will find the strength and love to accept and support their children, as you love and accept your daughter.

    • Camilla Dixton-Voutilainen

      And ‘hi’ from a fluxing one; “neither” and “both” :>

  • Abigail Brower

    As a transgender woman, your simple and eloquent way of putting things spoke to me deeply and moved me to tears.

    So many of us wish we had been blessed with parents like you. Your daughter is a very lucky little girl and you are one hell of a man.

    Thank you.

  • Rima Rachid

    thank you for posting this article. This is one of the most touching and thorough pieces I have ever read. I do hope that one day, this father may want to consider writing a book about his experience in life, to describe in more details the slow changes that occured, mixed with all the strong emotions he must have felt…I loved in particular the sentence: Loving is acceptance, not tolerance…

  • Debby

    I too am a parent of a gender non-conforming child and can relate to how your daughter has changed you as a human being. I know longer use words like tolerance I find it so negative instead I talk about embracing who my child is and others in the world who are “unique and wonderful”. How true the statement is “that children change you” – in this case for the bette. Good luck to you and your family on your journey.

  • Janet Schmidt

    An inspiring story of growth and acceptance. Thank you for sharing it.

  • http://www.genderella.com Racquel Lynn

    I’m 42, about to turn 43 and just now getting ready to tell my Dad. Would have done it about 10 years ago, but his health was not good, so I put transitioning back on the back burner because we weren’t expecting him to make it much longer, but he beat the odds and is stronger now, so I think he can physically handle it, although I know he will not accept it.
    He probably doesn’t even remember me telling him when I was little that I wanted to have surgery to become a girl when we were watching a news story about Christine Jorgensen having her sex change.
    After the hurtful things he said to me that day, I spent a long time repressing my true self.
    My ex wife knew about me before we were married, (we were together for 10 years before divorcing over money problems) all my friends have known for years, employers have known and I was even allowed to dress female when I wanted to at a couple of jobs, and a few people in my family have known for a while. I just came out to my Mom last month and she took it well and is very supportive.
    Telling my Dad will be the hardest part of this I have ever dealt with. I wish I could say he will be as supportive as the father in this article, but I know it’s not going to go well.
    Definitely have to admire and be proud of anyone, especially fathers, that are able to learn and be supportive of their transgender children. Much respect!

    • G.

      Racquel, not everyone is as lucky as the family in this story, but that doesn’t mean we’re not all worthy of the same love and respect. Hope you find it one day, biological family or not. Stay strong.

  • Kim

    Very beautifully stated.

    • Dee Omally

      Thank you Kim!

      I realize that the ability to be eloquent is a byproduct of speaking from the heart.

      I wish to acknowledge the child in this report and let her know that as adults in transition, the obligation we have for generations behind us insofar as facilitating a transition is not lost on us. The lack of joy that I didn’t experience as a child is however, made whole by the joy of knowing that children such as her will be able to develop completely in a gender-congruent manner. This makes all past, current, and future sacrifices more than worth it! The sky is the limit indeed!

      I also wish to thank Boston Children’s Hospital medical staff for playing such a critical role in this child’s life. Having worn various law enforcement “hats”–military, state (CHP), and county (LA)–and as a hospital peace/security officer for 4 different hospitals, these achievements pale in comparison to my internal joy of finally, finally achieving gender congruency. This would not have happened without medical providers who indeed literally are life savers. Had I been able to transition as a child, it need not be said that career instability need not have occurred.

      I wish to also thank and “hug” the parents of children in transition or gender non-conforming—your love and support help to remind parents-to-be not to make the “mistake” of wishing for a boy or girl but rather a healthy beautiful child. Gender is, although crucial that it be congruent both mentally and physically, but one of many characteristics that define who we are. This is the morale of this report—boy or girl—the father took a step back from society’s definition of gender and realized that gender is only truly self-defined and not transferable—indeed the only definition that will matter eternally is who we really are based on how we live our live irrespective of gender.

      I wish to conclude by spotlighting the fact that although great strides are being made, much work remains to be done. If as adults we are unable to eradicate trans-phobia, quite possibly it will be up to today’s children to complete this task. Every generation will have its key role to play. Case in point: In California, my state of residence, which includes gender in its discriminatory statutes, I began my gender transition without overt objection in one hospital. I worked at that hospital for 14 months completely open about my transition. I relocated to the Mojave Desert to be closer to my daughter and due to superb qualifications was hired at another hospital and despite my ID gender marker as female, my supervisor essentially labeled me as a “safety hazard” which makes the statement “hired for my skills but fired for my gender” a factual statement. It is tragic that such discrimination still occurs in the “greatest country in the world.”

      I guess this was the hospital’s way of thanking me for “my service”. Oh it wasn’t personal for my stay was less than two weeks—rather it was an overt in-my-face expression of hostility to all of us living up to the legal adage of “just be yourself” by undergoing gender transition. Appalling but true in 2010.

    • Dee Omally

      Flagged for “review”??? With 23 likes? What was so offensive that 23 people “liked” it? Censoring…clearly an “American” tradition example of free speech….

  • R.K.

    This father is a true man, and so much more than just a father… he is a great example of a DAD.

  • Queenie

    Our family is on the same journey, fast forward a couple of years. We, too, are “stealth” with only family and the closest of friends knowing my amazing daughter is transgender. It took years for my ex-husband to get on board, but I give him credit for making HIS transition… accepting and now supportive of our daughter. After reading about the Dutch study four years ago, I knew we had to stop the ravages of testosterone before puberty set permanent unwanted features in motion. Estradial and Progesterone have given her the beautiful figure, soft skin and soprano one voice in chorus. She will be a senior this year, with the hopes and dreams of being Homecoming Queen or Prom Queen like her older sister a decade ago. Impossible? ~ Well, not every girl will live the dream. But I certainly won’t rule out an addition to the sash and tiara on display in her room. And no, these were not borrowed from her sister… my lovely, sweet transdaughter was crowned Jr. Class Homecoming Princess last October.

  • Sarah Hoffman

    This is absolutely beautiful….what a gift you have given your child!

    I am the mom of a gender-nonconforming boy, and I write about my experiences raising my son (at http://www.sarahhoffmanwriter.com). I have interviewed many parents who have come to accept their children as they are, but never one who came so far in so many ways to find acceptance.

    I would love to have you as a guest blogger on my website if you are open to writing a piece! Please get in touch if you are.

    All the best,
    Sarah Hoffman

  • Vie

    thank you so much for this story and your courage and commitment to evolve with life has brought you… please continue to share and be a model for others

  • rr

    Dad I think you have a great heart for your family. I don’t believe you are accepting anything though. My children, boys and girls, for a month straight may feel like they are dinosaurs, princesses, superheros. I don’t accept the fact, and then move to change them with surgery or giving them hormones to feel even more like this. Children are looking to us for guidance and direction not acceptance. I don’t mean this an a negative way.

    If there is evidence of a hormonal imbalance in your child, why have you not made just as much a stride, medically, to help them feel like less of a mistake. I don’t believe any of us our mistakes. By telling this young child that they are a girl and can medically change themselves, i.e. hormones, is not accepting anything.

    So that being said: If hormones can make them feel more like a girl, why can this not be done in the same way to reverse the imbalance. In doing this, your no longer telling your child there is something wrong with you and we are accepting this, but admitting there is something wrong and lovingly trying to correct it. Giving your child the chance to feel at home in the body they were given and not trying to change it. Would you allow your child to get a tattoo at this age? If not, why would you allow them to alter their body permanently at so young.

    I can relate to everyone on here in not having a Dad that was who I expected him to be. Also, I have had physical issues that were not ideal growing up. I have epilepsy and have to take medication to operate normally. As much as I’d like to think that that I am normal without my medicine, I’m not. If my family would have just “accepted” me for who I am seizures and all. I would be dead now. I’m thankful as an adult for those in my life that did not accept it and helped me accept the fact that I was not a mistake.

    Also, I have personally met multiple men who have lived their whole lives as Transgender females. Only through all the confusion, pain, and finally real love from others have decided not to accept themselves as something wrong. They have moved to live as they were born, although special and different people. They are truly some of the most inspiring men out there. Here is one of their websites. http://www.syrogers.com

    Believe me, I am grateful for Dad’s like you and strive to be one myself. But disagree with how you are handling this. Thank You for loving your kids so much.

    • Kira W

      There is a world of difference between a neurological disorder such as epilepsy and being a transgendered individual. I know this personally, as a queer woman who also happened to grow up with early onset bipolar disorder. My neurological troubles have nothing to do with my sexual preference/gender identity. To suggest that there is any congruence between the two is disingenious and misleading. It’s apples and oranges.

      Also, this little girl’s gender identity is *nothing* like children pretending to be dinosaurs and so forth. Children are capable of knowing who they are, gender wise, from a very young age. I would expect that the unhappy transwomen you have met, and disrespectfully refer to as ‘men’ have been unhappy because of the ravages of living as somebody ‘different’ in a bigoted society. That has been the biggest challenge and source of pain for all the transgendered people I know. Watching a good friend blossom as she transitions from a deeply unhappy man to a joyous woman, within a nurturing, encouraging environment, is one of the greatest joys in my life.

      Your platitudes about this man being a good father mask your own anti-trans agenda, and precisely the attitudes that this brave man is attempting to break down. The world needs more men like him, and more courageous health care providers. At the moment you are part of the problem, not the solution.

  • Delphi

    Your comment representing the “contra” viewpoint is refreshing as it represents your honest perspective. My hope is that all replies will be as constructive.

    As an adult undergoing physical transition to female, I feel compelled to offer the reminder that just as two persons can describe an event in an almost contradictory fashion so too can two persons experience a gender transition differently.

    Let us remember that tolerance by definition means to “put up with something” one disagrees with or lacks comfort in. As such, it is laden with negative connotations. Anything deemed worthy of tolerance is not welcome but must be “suffered”.

    Acceptance on the other hand is a word laden with positive connotations. It means to receive something or someone despite uniquely different characteristics which serve to enrich the human experience. To accept is to “welcome” a person or event without disagreement or discomfort.

    As members of the human experience, we are born male, female, both, or variations thereof both physically and/or mentally—not as an animal. This is not to be confused with playing a superhero role.

    Additionally, the article is clear that the child began communicating to the parents that she was a girl, not the other way around. To the contrary, dad believed he had a son until convinced otherwise. Also, hormones don’t make anyone “feel” masculine or feminine. Again, the article is clear that the child has yet to begin taking hormones. Hormone blockers simply place the child in a neutral state hormonally, yet she has felt female all her life. I said “felt” as in feel—clearly stemming from her mind. The purpose of hormones is to effect positive physical change to reflect one’s feeling of being male or female—a physical solution to an internal mental perspective. A gender transition is not a mental disorder. After a diagnose of GID, a medical doctor assumes all care.

    A hormonal imbalance doesn’t begin at age 4, 5, or 6. It occurs much later during puberty when the body begins to develop and mature as male or female. A hormonal “imbalance” IS medically corrected with gender-specific hormones—specific to an internal gender perspective..

    Regarding tattoos, marking the skin has as much to do with gender as wearing pants—that is, nothing at all. Feeling like a girl or boy, despite a physical contrast is wrong only if being a girl or boy is wrong. It must be reiterated, however, that it is not the parent but the child that is communicating either verbally and/or physically that something is wrong not mentally but physically. Again it isn’t the mind that’s wrong—it’s the body. Gender Identity (physical) Disorder, as I have stated is a “physical issue” and definitely “not ideal” while growing up either—and yes for many persons failure to resolve it has led to an early death.

    “Mistakes”, are all around us, both mentally and physically. We are given no choice but to “accept” this fact and in turn accept others in the human family with such ailments, gender identity not excluded. If at one time a person existed in a perfect state, I have yet to meet an eyewitness to such. The cause of our mistake-laden existence is for others to ponder. Clearly, since none of us exist as examples of perfection, only a perfect being has earned the right to evaluate a non-perfect being as a “mistake.” Just as clearly, from birth until departure mankind exists in a planet tasked with problems and provided with intellect to find viable solution, including the lack of gender congruency.
    In closing, I must say that from my experience, I have never, ever been confused by my gender. Having a body that didn’t match my gender left nothing to be confused about anymore than being born without an arm is confusing. It is not a state of confusion but a state of succinct acknowledgment that a problem exists begging for a solution–no more and no less. Let us not forget that we are born with a physical representation (external) and with a mental representation (internal). To live as “we are born” is exactly what this child and others undergoing gender transition are doing, unless we are born first physically then in time a brain “is born” within the body with the passing of time, which is clearly not the case.

    I have come full circle. I opened with the statement that no two persons experience an event in the same way; likewise as there are “remorseful” transgender females, there are even more that finally get to live their life physically matching “just as they were born” mentally, despite heavy costs accepted as the price for “doing business”.

    Cheers and Love,

    Delphi L.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for this article. It really hit home.

  • Kd

    What an amazing, strong, loving dad. Your kids are lucky to have you! I’m sure very few people read this with a dry eye…

  • Anon

    I’m not trans, but I am queer. Your unconditional love and acceptance of your child gives me hope that one day it won’t have to be so hard for all of us who are born different. Thank you.

  • Babblefishie

    Thanks for sharing. It’s testimonials like this that are changing the world we live in. Wishing you and your family all the best.

    • Mnd

      Absolutely FANTASTIC essay and family story. As you know, this is what makes you a real man — opening your eyes, proudly changing, using all of yourself to love and protect your family. I’m typing this with one hand because my beautiful 3-month-old boy is asleep in my lap. If he ever feels he wants to be somewhere other than purely ‘boy’ on the gender scale, he will have an easier time in the world because of amazing parents like you.

  • http://apisgirl.com/ Apis Girl

    This story, and the one’s left in the comments are making me cry so much. It’s happy crying for the most part. I’m really glad to hear that there are people on the planet that still know what love is, and how to show it. Thank you for keeping my hope’s up.

  • Kelly

    If anything I have found that there is not a “Norman Rockwell” family in this day and age. To truly love your children and life as is it is, is the best way to become a happy, healthy, strong family and person.

  • GL

    I am non-trans, but I identify as gay and genderqueer and my partner is trans. It was my privilege and pleasure to volunteer for a camp for queer and trans young people earlier this summer. Getting to know trans youth who had a space to focus on growing up and going through the usual teenage drama while living as who they truly are was so refreshing and full of hope. All children should be wanted, treasured, and nurtured as they grow up healthfully into the unique individuals they are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Danielle-Krieger/1386982667 Danielle Krieger

    Thank you, sir, for posting this for all to see. As a transgender woman, I went through many of the things your daughter has already experienced… and some of the things she’s lucky she will never have to face. You are a good man.

    I, myself, have had a unique experience. Growing up, I had a step-dad who was a lot like you, in the beginning. In many ways, he’s still the man you USED to be. From a very early age, I was subject to his wrath because he wanted to change me to “be a man” and I could never honor that demand. To say that we have a broken relationship is an understatement. On the other hand, I have my biological father who has more than earned the title “Daddy” in my eyes. He and my mother divorced when I was very young and he spent much of his 20-year service to the United States Navy aboard ship and away from any family at all. Until I was an adult, we didn’t spend much time together save for some odd weekend when he was actually granted leave. Since I “came out” to him, though, he’s been very supportive.

    As I read through this essay, there was a rollercoaster of emotions. Much of your early experience reminded me of my step-father, bringing anger and frustration to the surface. It was never a good experience for me. Then, things began to change and I began to weep tears of joy. In more ways than one, I truly envy your daughter. She has a Dad who loves her, truly, and would do anything for her. Just what every little girl needs.

    I’m certain she will likely say it one day, but allow me to thank you from many of the rest of us for truly being a real man. We need more of you in this world.

  • Queenie

    Last Friday my daughter’s U.S. Passport arrived with her correct gender marker rather than that recorded on her birth certificate 17 years ago, thanks to new law passed in June. This has been quite a journey for an amazing transgirl ~

    • Noa’s Mom

      Hello Queenie – What is this new law you mention? My 8 year old transgender daughter has just changed her name and we would like to do this legally as well.

  • Momrunr

    I pray my husband reaches this place not only for our child but for himself as well. I love them both but as a mother I feel I need to be that voice for my daughter who’s bravery amazes me. My daughter was born “male” and I knew very early on. I did not know that it had a formal name until I was lead to a book called “Dress Codes”. My child is 10 going on 11 and make a beautiful daughter. She does not have to live in fear of who is going to catch her cross-dressing, she dresses as a tween, crushes on boys, and shares with me her innermost thoughts. I will stand by her from now until forever. I use to read to her “Love You Forever”…and it is so true I have that unconditional love. I introduce her as my daughter and it does cause marital strife. This story gives me hope for my child, my family and my husband.

    • kedo

      Insane! You are insane and what you did to your kid should be treated like child abuse.

      • ErinRandt

        you are the one with a problem this father is showing his love for his daughter and i for one will suport him and his family and every one like them i take a very dim few of hate i happen to be a christian and a lesbian and i know for a fact god loves us all and that includes the killers, the streat walkers, the cross dressers, lesbians , the transgender etc you may wish other wise but the truth is gods love knows no bounderies.

  • Anonymous

    I love this!

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  • Scstevemclark

    I really related to this article as a dad of a trangender child- we adopted an older child from the other side of the world who could hardly speak a word of english, so we started lacking needed parent-child bond, language and even any knowledge about TG kids. Dads especially need to have simple, strong tools to carry you and your family though the many dark nights (do you know that any way you handle your TG child is wrong in someones mind? everyone is suddenly an expert in something deeply personal yet public at the same time), the love for you child (or in our case the knowledge that we had adopted a kind, decent, intelligent human being plus faith that love would follow) has to be a candle to carry you through. Id love to have a beer (or two) with other dads of TG children

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  • femme

    Nice to see a male parent being supportive of his child who was born with transsexulism. That he can say he learned from her is nice and one can see how much she is daddy’s girl.People born with transsexulism need to be able to just live their lives, in this case with equal treatment afforded other young females. This is not much different then any other issue that some parents and society should get over already.

  • Carolhrncar

    good story! Enjoyed this article. Makes you understand with a more open mind! Thanks carol

  • Cheryl

    This father is, in my view a real man, a man who is confident and secure with himself, who is fully capable of looking fear and uncertainty in the face and coming out a better person, a father who loves his children and family unconditionally and a guiding light for the “christian” right. The world needs more men, and women like him. Someday, w/small steps perhaps the world will change.

    • ErinRandt

      how does you father treat people who are differant Miss i’m not trying to pick a fight but i am wondering i am a christian and a lesbian and i have seen the gauntlet on human emotion and actions towards people like me i have been beaten and been made fun of for being differant.

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  • Twinkies48

    I, too, was moved to tears. I read Sylvia’s story in the paper newsletter, but am now glad to have heard her Dad’s story. It would be so wonderful if, someday, every child who feels different knew they are not alone. Here’s hoping…

  • Dfweclecticone2

    As the newly married spouse of a transgender female, I applaud you. It takes courage to admit that you might not have been this open years before…the same words I tell when I speak of my ignorance against transgender before I fell in love with my wife. Bless you!

  • Dfweclecticone2

    Well stated…I am married to a 22 year retired Marine who is also transgender. As I know you know, you are not alone!

  • carol

    soooo eloquently written… i hope this article circles the globe and opens more hearts and minds to God’s beautiful creation! thanks for being brave to write the truth.

  • kedo

    Holy moley, after reading the article and a lot of the comments, man, you are all insane. You should all be flown to an island. And spare the “Oh, see, more hate speech,” crap, couldn’t care less, you’re all still insane.

    • Tiger

      When someday you experience something so out of your realm and out of your control and it is not what you originally thought was the norm, may you find peace and love from those experiencing the same thing.  Just because you don’t understand it does NOT mean it’s insane…. It just means you have never experienced it.  How perfect for you that you are so perfect.  By the way, you can spend your spare time more productively by volunteering for something you do believe in rather than being so negative. I bet you’re a lot of fun to hang around (not).
      Love to all the people who have evolved and see the bigger picture…..
      Proud mother of a WONDERFUL transgirl!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tammie-Williams/1119794555 Tammie Williams

    Bravo to you for putting your child before yourself. It takes a strong person to allow their child to truly be who they were meant to be instead of what society says they should be and I commend any parent who is strong enough to stand up for their child’s rights.

  • Oshee

    In response to the question about new US passport regulations:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    Understanding the New Passport Gender Change Policy
    June 2010
    In June 2010, the State Department announced a new policy to issue passports that reflect a person’s current gender when either a previous passport or other personal documentation presented by an applicant reflects a different gender. Under the new policy, a transgender person can obtain a passport reflecting his
    or her current gender by submitting a certification from a physician confirming that he or she has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. This policy replaces the Department’s old policy, which required documentation of sex reassignment surgery.

    Why the new policy was needed
    The purpose of a passport is to facilitate travel between a person’s country of citizenship and other countries; there is no need for a person to reveal gender-related medical care to either U.S. or foreign government officials in order to be able to travel. In the past, many transgender people could not obtain an updated passport and were afraid to travel abroad. Traveling with a passport that does not reflect your current gender can cause great anxiety and can be dangerous.
    Incorrect gender designations can “out” a person as transgender in all kinds of situations, and can put people at risk of discrimination, harassment, and even violence.
    In addition, like everyone else, transgender people’s medical needs vary. There are a variety of accepted treatment options for gender transition, and not all of them are appropriate for everyone. For example, people may have medical
    conditions that are contraindications for surgical procedures. Additionally, many people cannot afford the transition-related care they do need, and many insurance plans still do not cover these medical needs. Requiring particular
    medical treatments in order to change a passport did not reflect the reality of transgender people’s lives and is not in keeping with current medical practice.

    Obtaining a passport with your current gender
    Under the new policy, you can obtain a passport with an updated gender if you have had clinical treatment determinedby your doctor to be appropriate in your case to facilitate gender transition.
    If you are just beginning transition and need to travel abroad, you can obtain a two-year provisional passport. (The State Department calls it “limited validity” though it has all the force of a regular passport but is only good for two
    years.) Once your doctor and you believe you have had clinical treatment appropriate in your case, you can obtain a full, regular passport.

    When a physician certification is required
    Under the new policy, a physician certification is required if the documents you submit with your application, which may include a prior passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, or other documents, do not all reflect the correct gender. If all the documents you submit with your application reflect the correct gender, you do not need to submit a physician certification.

    See the application instructions for more details.

  • Meadow

    For some reason I have not read this until today! As a mom to a fifteen year old transgender daughter I can so relate to his transformation! We parents come from so many places, experiences and world views. What a heartfelt description of what love can do. I have sent this essay to so many people today because it speaks to the experience of my husband and my family’s transformation. Devastation, denial, acceptance and finally….pride and determination to create a safe and accepting world for our children who will someday be leaders. Bravo to this brave Dad!!

  • annie

    this is such a beautifully written sentiment (sorry, that’s such a trite word, but i can’t find one powerful enough)! thank you so much for sharing your experience, and for saying what needs to be said so eloquently. 

    • Dee Omally

      Thanks Annie! Gosh, I completely forgot about this posting over one year ago! No, sentiment is exactly the right word…and contrite ;) as well. You will like my blog at http://www.transendgender.wordpress.com if you liked this posting!

  • dominic

    Child abuse

  • dominic

    Child abuse.

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  • Foggysapphires

    This is a most moving post. Thank you very much for sharing it Melissa.

      I’ve recently interviewed the writers of “There Is No Word For It”, a book about the trans man, trans masculine experience:

    http://foggysapphires.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/genderful-an-interview-with-laura-bridgeman-and-serge-nicholson/

    Perhaps you could spare a moment to read it.

    Best wishes, from Caroline in London

  • Pingback: Children’s in the News: courageous Children’s family speaks with Boston Globe | Knowledge of Medicine()

  • Junie

    Hello Everyone,

    It’s so great to hear my family and I are not alone as I feel very alone lately in this new journey.  My child, born a boy, is 16.  I was never in denial that he was different, I just didn’t know what was wrong and neither did he until 4 years ago.  He started doing things that I didn’t understand but passed off as I don’t even know what. I never thought he was gay because he had a girlfriend.  This girlfriend would become a great confidant in his life and hold a great secret for him for a few months.  Only a few months because a month after he told her, I asked him a question that changed my life forever.

    One day, I called him upstairs to my room and said, “I may be completely off the wall and out of line, and you’re probably gonna get pissed, but what are the chances you’re one the people who are trapped in the wrong body?”  To my surprise, while all the blood was draining out of my head, he said yes.  I said ok, and it’s gonna be ok.  I said I’ve never known anyone else this has happened to so I’m gonna have a lot of , questions, and questions, I have asked.  

    I was immediately supportive of this child I had loved for the past 16 years.  It was still the same child I had shared laughs, tears many memories with over the years.  It was still the same baby I had fed and held and patted his back so many nights.  He was beautiful to me, no matter what.

    It has taken me a few months, we just had this talk in September 2011, it is now January 2012.  I am now trying hard to refer to him as her and use the name she has chosen.  It’s a pretty name and she allowed me to pick a middle name.  We see a psychiatrist and are working towards the ultimate goal of gender reassignment surgery. Something she hopes to happen as close to her 18th birthday as possible.  She may be starting hormones as soon as this coming Spring.  

    I have 2 other children, one is 15 and the other is 9. My 15 year old is a girl and goes to school with her.   Times have sometimes been hard.  We live in a small town and I think it may have been a good thing.  It could go either way.  My children have went to school with these schoolmates all their school careers. So the people that liked my “new”  daughter still seem to like her while she’s transitioning.  Some people think she’s a “coming out” gay boy.  If they ask,  she likes to say, “I’m tranny”, do you know what that is?   There’s always gonna be an ignorant person though and I’m sure my daughter will meet the bulk of them in her lifetime.  

    My wish is for her to become a successful woman in whatever she chooses to do.  I wish happiness for her as I know she has had some very dark, unhappy moments and it breaks my heart in ways I can’t even describe.

    I could go on and on.  So I will end by saying, to all the transgender out there, hold your heads up and be proud of who you are. Love yourselves, and take care.  

  • Rev Me

    A woman’s life and health are regulated, to a great extent by progesterone. Produced primarily by the ovaries in women and the testes in men, progesterone is an essential in the production of most of the other important hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, testosterone and cortisol. Small amounts are also produced by the adrenal glands and in the brain.http://revmeupnow.com/

  • Emily Ru King

    What an awesome dad!!! I wish I was so lucky to have parents like these.

    I knew for sure that I was female at 14, however I ended up waiting 20 years because of religion. I just came out this year. Scariest and hardest choice I made in my life.
    One of my hardest challenges, is the regret. Last night at work, I was overwhelmed with it, and wanted to take a knife and put it in my heart and just end it all. Thankfully I work with some awesome people who helped me out.
    If you are a parent with a child who feels as I did, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE help them and support them. It will make you question everything, but it will help them be happy and true.
    I will always wish I had come out in high school.

  • xab

    I know I’m incredibly late to this, but I just want to say that this is unbelievably beautiful. You are a wonderful father.

  • Happy

    There are no “ravages of testosterone”, the testosterone that is present in your child is absolutely normal. Preventing normal hormone function is any child is horrific.

  • http://chartreuseflamethrower.wordpress.com/ Z

    Just saying ‘hey’ from another neither. :D

  • http://chartreuseflamethrower.wordpress.com/ Z

    Actually- it’s extremely unusual for women to have such high levels of testosterone and it can cause emotional problems and make her uncomfortable in her body.

  • Queenie

    If you were forced to live in the opposite gender you identify with… right now, from this moment forward… imagine how horrific every minute of every day would be. Imagine wearing board shorts in the shower since age 6 because the mere thought of seeing body parts incongruent with your core being is traumatizing beyond words and is today, at 17. Suicide is not going to claim my happy, grounded, beautiful, smart, healthy, AMAZING transdaughter.

  • Queenie

    Thank you, Z. I inadvertently made this clear as mud… my daughter is biologically male.

  • Queenie

    Jessica ~ it breaks my heart to hear how cruel your father was. What about your mother? Did he berate her from accepting and supporting you? I hope in your adult like you have found peace and happiness.

  • Anonymous

    Since you asked if male hormones could be used to make someone feel more masculine, I offer the story of my best friend. She began to transition at age 34, after having felt unambiguously female all her life. When her hormone levels were tested before beginning treatment, it was found that her testosterone level was double the male average. The hormones don’t dictate whether you feel male or female. What they do is affect the body, and the mood, to a degree. When my friend started on estrogen therapy, she didn’t feel “more like a woman”, but she did feel a lot more comfortable with a body that wasn’t trying to send her the wrong signals.

  • Joseph Krahn

    RR, you are severely misinformed. The only reason transgender adults have to endure pain learning to accept themselves is because there are so many people like you.

  • shana

    its in the brain. studies have shown transgender humans are born with the brain of the gender opposite of their physically gender. Many many test r done and have been for over 60 years. many countries in this world understand and even pay for the reconstructive surgery. it is human nature to correct something that is incorrect. its natural its normal its human. all humans are created individually and different. love and acceptance is humane. LOVE and acceptance and understanding. Bless you dad for loving your child. Transgender is not the same as playing like a dinosaur or any other type of play its real its here and its happening and will always. All things are created for us to learn from. open our hearts breath deeply and love. I am transgender, i remember knowing i was a girl at 3, i am free to be me , i am a successful business owner and live a full life and am very social with a world full of friends. i am happy and it matters to me. Never keep someones true happiness from them, u cannot compare transgender with any other scenario because its not any other scenario its what it is and what it is. God bless all of you parents including my own caring loving parents and family who love and accept me as i love and accept them UNCONDITIONALLY. LOVE is in the air, n it starts in the heart. Feel it and share it. LOVE, Aits my best friend. Shana

  • http://chartreuseflamethrower.wordpress.com/ Z

    So? She’s still a woman- and it’s still extremely uncommon for a woman to have testosterone levels that high.

    Also- you may want to read this: http://thisiswhatamanlookslike.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/this-is-what-a-male-bodied-person-looks-like/

  • Queenie

    Her testosterone levels are kept at bay with Spironolactone ~ as in the Netherlands study, we halted puberty before male traits such as adams apple, deepened voice, facial and excess body hair, pronounced jaw, nose and brow bone as male, etc. And thank you for the link, Z ~ I enjoyed the article!

  • Dilalia

    No one is saying that the testosterone isn’t normal. In her male body, it is. However, it is not “horrific” to prevent normal hormone function if the child identifies as female. I repeat, IDENTIFIES AS FEMALE. To allow normal hormone function to occur in a FEMALE trapped in a male’s body is CRUELTY. Do not let your discomfort overcome your sense of morality. Be thankful that your mind matches your body. Everyone is not so fortunate. There is no rational or moral reason to allow this girl to go through male puberty. None.

  • ErinRandt

    it is you are the problem i have seenboth sides because i am a christian and a lesbian i ahve freinds who are strait who are transvestites who are transgender and one who is a convicted pedaphile who is trying to made amends for his past jesus when he was here on earth tried to show us to love each other as he has loved us and part of love is acceptance of others regardless of there past or there sexual preferance ore there lifestyle.