How do you identify? Think about it for a second. Is your identity tied to motherhood or your spouse? What about your ethnicity? Could it be your education/career goals? What about your gender identity?
What happens when your identity is tied to your gender? How do you handle it when your child begins to struggle with their identity? Are you open to having conversations with your child on the subject?
Most of us know the story of Dwayne Wade and his minor daughter (born male) and her wanting to fully transition. It’s making major headlines by addressing whether minors can make life-altering decisions while their brains are still developing. These are battles that are being battled in court.
We all have an identity. It’s how we see ourselves, and that will reflect how the world views us. At least, we hope.
I have a daughter, and I see her as a girl, but she sees herself differently. I never knew she struggled with gender identity. I had never asked her those questions. For me with my background, it’s always been either you’re male or female. I didn’t grow up with gender options and never felt as if I wasn’t a woman.
But on a random Saturday, my adult daughter approached me and started a conversation about the upcoming LGBTQIA+ parade. Seemingly out of the blue she said, “Mom, would you like to know how I identify?”
At this moment, my reaction mattered.
Time stopped for me. No exaggeration. I had to think quickly, because I knew my response about my daughter’s gender would impact my daughter greatly. I saw only one option, and that was to have an honest conversation. I didn’t want to be closed-minded, but I also wanted her to know how I felt and how unprepared I was for this discussion.
We talked about how she hasn’t felt like she belonged to any particular group in a long time. She didn’t fit the social norms of what a girl should be. She never felt comfortable in that gender.
One day, while talking with some friends about gender identity, she realized that this was her struggle, and something shifted.
The more she learned about her identity, and how it was okay to be who you are, she began to finally feel like a part of something greater than herself. And for the first time in a long time, she was happy.
As a mom, isn’t that what we want for our kids? For them to be happy?
My years on this earth told me differently. My faith told me something different. No mom wants their child to pick the hard road. We know from everything we’ve seen on the news that certain gender groups are targets for violence. People are victimized and assaulted, nightclub shootings, hate speech, and social isolation are real.
People are trying to exercise their rights to be free.
Part of me felt like a horrible mother for not having this conversation sooner. I knew my daughter had struggled socially. But I made a lot of assumptions, like she was shy or a “tomboy”. I knew my daughter was a loner. But I assumed she liked her space. She never mentioned wanting a boyfriend, and she didn’t have any friends. All these assumptions I made and not once did I stop and ask her the tough questions. Deep down, did I know and really was just afraid of the answer? Maybe. Parenting isn’t easy.
And now she’s an adult and struggling to find her place in the world.
I assured her that her identity did not change my love for her. I may not understand it all now, but I’m open and willing to learn. I want her to know she’s accepted, especially at home. The world may not fully accept her, but her mom will.
I’m still struggling with certain aspects, and of course, it’s not my story to tell so I won’t go into specific details, but as a mom I felt that this is a subject that needs attention. I’m so proud of her for having the courage that I didn’t. Maybe I did something right along the way.
I’m sharing our story so you can avoid waiting and have the hard conversation too late.
This article is a great place to start.