Well, it was on my 16th wedding anniversary, that I decided (with Skyler’s blessing) to inform my parents about their eldest grandchild. So I rang them and when I spoke to my dad he as always wished me a happy “university”… I said it feels like I have been in university lately as I am learning something new everyday..
We had a laugh then I asked to speak to my mum, because telling her is going to be so much easier than telling my old fashion father who came to Australia from Cyprus when he was 21 years old.
So with my mum on the phone, and tell her she better sit down, and then I begin to explain about her eldest grandchild, my son Nathan who is 15 and as everyone in our family has known has been battling with anxiety and depression on and off for the past 5 years, which has lead to a sleep disorder and not be able to attend mainstream school for the past 2 years. Seeing his psychology regularly, we have been through the anger, smashing of windows, knives pointed at us, suicidal thoughts or thoughts of killing everyone else, it has been a rough few years but lately it seems it has calmed a bit with lots of help from his psychologist.
A few months ago, (October 2014) Nathan wanted to see his psychologist without me which I thought was great showing he is growing up dealing with his psychologist on his own etc. anyway my parents and family knew all this, what my mum didn’t know was that a month ago, after confiding in his psychologist Nathan informed me that he also felt like a girl, that he is transgender, and wants to be able to dress like one, he then told his father a few weeks after telling me, both his father and I knew he was bisexual, (he told us this when he was 14) but my parents and family didn’t know, so I had to drop that one on them too…
So, after much discussion, my mum was amazingly very calm and asked all the questions I asked when I first found out, thankfully for Google and my meeting with his psychologist, I had some answers. Then I told my mum that I leave it up to her to tell my dad, yes very chicken of me, but hey I am allowed to be a bit selfish. I am so very grateful everyday for the great support I have from my family and close friends.
When my son told me he is transgender, and doesn’t like his male body and wants to be a girl, boobs and all and always wanted to be a girl from very young. I racked my brain wondering what I missed when he was growing up that I missed this HUGE thing in his life, (I am still saying he, because I’m talking prior to coming out, but he wants to be called Skyler, we went through a few names but this one now seems to have stuck.).
So for many nights I keep searching my memory for signs, I even watched some old DVDs of when he was little, because you always hear about trans kids expressing themselves when they are very young. I got nothing, natta!!! nothing that stood out at all. Yes he wasn’t sporty, liked creating crafty things, loved playing Lego, magic shows, computer games etc the only thing was when he was 5 he really wanted pink sheets, I didn’t care but at the time he was sharing a room with his 11 year old half brother and he didn’t want pink sheets in his room so we settled on yellow sheets, and everyone was happy.
Nathan when he was younger was a beautiful natured boy, very empathetic and would get upset at others misfortune and try and help anyone who needed it. He didn’t want to put anyone out and didn’t ask for much. In his younger years, up until year 5, he always seemed a happy kid, had lots of male friends he played with regularly, putting on magic shows loved being in front and behind the camera etc.
After years of psychology, starting in year 5 when he finally told us he hated school and wanted to jump out the window when he was in class, we now know he kept a lot of his feelings and thoughts to himself as not wanting to put extra pressure on me, (his younger brother has special needs and at the time we were dealing with a lot trying to get him diagnosed, help at school etc) It was hard for him to explain what he was feeling especially with things he didn’t really understand about himself. We did everything we could to help Nathan and he seemed to settle into school again.
Looking back now, Skyler (as she likes to be called now) told us that in year 5 when she was going through puberty, thinking back she would look at the girls and get upset because she wanted to be them. Except she was a 6ft tall boy with a deep voice and a size 13 shoe at the time she was the only boy going through puberty in year 5 and didn’t understand what and why she was having these feelings.
By year 7 Nathan is not doing well again anxiety and depressions sets in, he is more mature than his friends and is always debating, intelligently with his teachers, passive
Aggressively, lots of phone calls from his school. Lots of anger at home which leads to a sleep disorder and we cannot wake him for school no matter what we do, more specialist and he is diagnosed with delayed sleep phase disorder, he has taken too much time off school so is told in year 8 he has to leave school and needs to be homeschooled, his (and our) saving grace is his psychologist.
So here we are, after 15 years of having only boys, life has thrown us yet another curve ball, especially being that I am not a girly girl, make up, girly clothes etc isn’t something I have worried about for at least 15 years and now I am trying to give fashion/makeup advice to my 15 year old transgender child. Yes we have laughed about this – like when I tried to do Skyler’s make up or paint her nails, I am so out of practice.
Since Skyler came out as transgender I had noticed a great change in her, she started smiling more, interacting more especially those first few months. It was so great to see her being much happier then she has been in almost 5 years, that her coming out as transgender was in a way a huge blessing, we finally knew what was wrong and how to help her eventually be content and happy.
Even though it has only been less than a year, and we know this is going to be an emotional hard journey for Skyler and for all our family. That times have been tough, there are more down days then good ones, when she doesn’t leave her room, has great dysphoria, depression and anxiety but we all understand where it is mostly coming from and most importantly Skyler understands why she feels the way she does and that thankfully in this day and age there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I keep remembering what her psychologist told us, that this is her journey on her time schedule and all we can do is go along for the ride and support her as best we can.
Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down – Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living