Absolutely Emma

This week for the Kids Connect blog, I thought it would be nice to share my family’s experience with our amazing transgender daughter. When my husband and I were searching for answers as to what was going on with, we found comfort and strength in other people’s stories. It was encouraging to see how other children’s behaviors and mannerisms mirrored what we saw in our daughter.

On Sept. 14, 2010, our twin boys were born into our beautiful, blended family. Together we had 4 children already:  They were ages 2-10. Including the twins, we had a house of 5 boys and 1 girl. Our twins are identical, and being identical one would think that meant that they would do everything the same. From the womb these two children were complete opposites. Baby A, Ka, was always curled in a little ball and never moved much or caused mommy too much pain. Baby B, Ko, however, was a wild child. He was always stretched across my belly, always kicking and rolling. When they were born they had twin to twin transfusion, which caused Ka to be smaller than Ko. From the time they were babies, Ko’s emotions were always strong. His facial expression were so animated. None of my other boys were ever like this. They were all really good, pretty quiet babies.

When the twins were around 2, we started to notice Ko enjoyed playing differently than Ka. Ka was all boy. He loved to wrestle and be wild. He played with typical “boy” things. Ko, however, was obsessed with hair brushes and would sit for hours and just brush my hair, his aunt’s hair, his cousins hair..he didn’t care. I also noticed he loved my shoes, my purses, and my bras. He would run around the house wearing one or all of these. We never really thought much about Ko’s choice in play. None of my other boys had ever showed interest in the things that Ko did, but he was so young and not every child is the same. He still occasionally played with traditional “boy” toys. Around 2 1/2, Ko started wearing his “hair.” His hair was one of my ratty t-shirts I would wear to bed, wither plain white or gray. He liked the gray the most, though. He would wear it everywhere. He would sleep with it during naps. If he didn’t have it, he would ask for his “hair.” People would see him out and ask if it was his cape. He would just say, “No. It’s my hair..” When you have twins it can be hard not to compare them, whether it is developmental milestones, personality, size..it just happens. He wore his hair to his yearly check up with our PCP and I asked the doctor whether this was normal or not. The doctor asked if it was a cape. I told him that he says it is his hair and that he wears it EVERYWHERE and freaks out if he doesn’t have it. The doctor chalked it up to a healthy imagination and a comfort blanket of sorts.

Everything our son was doing was just innocent exploration. We didn’t want to persuade him one way or another, or force him to be like his brother because he was a boy. He was always a mama’s boy. He like being around me. He liked to watch me get dressed, put on makeup, cook, clean. He was always the first to ask if he could help me clean, even from an early age. When we would go shopping he started to show interest in pink stuff. Everything had to be pink. He had pink flip flops and pink sunglasses. The first time we bought him “girl toys” was for his 3rd birthday. We got him one of those giant doll heads with the curling iron and brush. He was sooooo excited. I remember calling my husband while I was at the store, kind of freaking out. As ok as I thought I was with him wanting more and more girl things, it felt weird taking this step. Around this same time I started doing a little research online. I looked up things like, “My son wears a shirt and calls it hair,” or “My son likes to play with girl toys.” That is when I first came across the term “transgender.”

My husband and I agreed that some of the things were the same, but some weren’t. He had started calling himself a girl around that same time. He did not seem upset, withdrawn, or seem to have any emotional response to show that he was in distress about us calling him a boy. He hadn’t said anything about his genitals being wrong, or asking questions about it. In January of 2014, when Ko was 3 1/2 I had a baby girl. This is when things started getting interesting. Ko knew his sister was a girl. He would watch me change her diaper and ask why she had a different pee pee. He would start asking me, my niece, his older sister what pee pee they had. He found one of his older sister’s dresses that would fit him and would wear it in the house everyday. Eventually he started wearing it out of the house. One night I was in my room sitting on my bed with a direct view to the toilet in the bathroom. Ko was sitting on the toilet looking down.  He said, “Mom, I hate my pee pee. I want a different one.”  That stunned me.  I didn’t know what to say, so I asked what he meant.  He said, “I want a girl pee pee..”

After that my husband and I decided that we probably should take his behavior a little more to heart and start listening and paying attention.  We had already read all the statistics.  Our child was not, IS NOT, going to be another statistic.  Our primary care doctor referred us to a therapist, upon my request, in November 2014.  We weren’t looking to fix our child.  We were looking for support and tools so we could make the best decisions and be the best support system for our kids.  All of them. By the time we started seeing the therapist, Ko had already asked that we start calling him my nieces name.

After our first appointment with the therapist, we gave in to our child’s wishes and started using the correct pronouns.  She started dressing as a girl, thanks mostly to donations from friends, family, and a neighbor.  She got her ears pierced.  Once we let her know that who she was, was ok with us, her personality just started coming through.  We met with our therapist every other week.  Our other kids were on board right from the start.  Her twin brother was the first one to start calling her, her.  Eventually we got her to settle on the name Emma.  She will tell us her name used to be Ko and she used to be a boy.  She is open about it.  I don’t want her to be embarrassed or feel ashamed for who she is.  She has made our family closer, given us courage.  It is amazing now watching our youngest daughter, who is now 2, do the same exact things Emma did at her age.  It all makes sense.  I didn’t see that my daughter was my daughter back then because I really didn’t have anything to compare her behavior to.  I hadn’t raised a girl before.  Emma loves being a big sister and she loves being a little sister.  Her sisters are her best friends.  I had a family member ask why God would make her in a boy’s body, why would he make a mistake like that.  My answer to that is:

“God doesn’t make mistakes.  Nothing about her is a mistake.  She was made perfectly just the way she is.”

 

—-This blog post has been edited to remove or change all names of  family members to protect the children’s privacy.

—-Gender pronouns used in this blog entry are used for the purpose of story telling,  to show the journey of the family as they transitioned with their daughter, and are not used with any ill intent.