All in all, I feel like we have been pretty lucky with K’s transition. Because of her age, we haven’t had to worry about coming out in too many places. Coming out though has been nerve racking each and every time. I always wonder how people are going to respond. We live in a red town, and even though it doesn’t necessarily mean that people will not be accepting of her, I feel like liberal blue areas are a safer bet. Not all liberals are trans allies, but a larger percent of them are. So far, no one here has responded negatively toward us, which is phenomenal.
I’ve mentioned before that I started purging people from our lives even before K came out to us. We used to be a part of a local Mom’s Club, and when K would show up to playdates wearing dresses, there were a few moms that would roll their eyes and even comment. Add to that the moms that I noticed writing hateful things on Facebook about Target and the bathroom laws… it was clear that some people in our lives would not be safe and we would need to slowly pull away. After all, if they couldn’t handle a boy in a dress, why would I ever imagine that they could handle a transgender child?
Luckily for me, I am pretty introverted and prefer to keep just a few very close friends by me. I was nervous even coming out to those friends even though I knew how much they loved me and my children. It’s scary though. I’ve seen the hateful comments online, I’ve read articles, seen the polls. I know that there is hate out there and I know that it could easily be directed toward K at anytime.
I pulled away from posting things about the kids on social media as K became increasingly gender-nonconforming. When you are “friends” with hundreds of people, can you really vouch for them? Do you know that they aren’t going to gossip about your child, possibly even take photos from your profile? Maybe I’m paranoid, maybe I’m not. In May, I spent about a week going through all of my photos of the kids and making them private so that only I could see them. Then I went through my “friends” list and deleted all but about 100 that I knew had expressed support for the LGBTQ community or that I trusted with all of my heart. After ensuring that I had done all I could to keep K safe on social media, we made an announcement and everyone left was so supportive, which is exactly what this mommy needed.
What about all of those deleted friends though? Since we’re homeschooling, there isn’t too much of a chance that we would bump into them, especially since we do our sports teams and such about 30 minutes away. We really don’t do any extracurriculars in our town. Seemed pretty safe. Nope. Today K started at a new gymnastics studio, 25 minutes away from our town. They offered a camp, and we had to try it out. There were four families there (including us) and one of them was in Mom’s Club with us. I was terrified. Would she remember that I had a son? Would she realize that that son was now K? Would she out me to the other moms? What do I say? How do I handle it?
She didn’t say anything to me during camp, but she reached out afterward because she noticed that we weren’t Facebook friends anymore and she wanted to friend me again. Crap. If she friended me, she would see our coming out post, even if she didn’t remember that K used to be a he. I ended up writing her a long note explaining what was going on, why I deleted her, how we were trying to be stealth, etc. Then I waited. This camp was supposed to be all week and she was friends with the other two moms. Would our secret be out? How would she respond? It was such a long 49 minutes of waiting, but she ended up responding great and promised to keep it between us. Another good coming out experience… for now.
What happens when we bump into other people who remember my “son.” I know that they won’t all be OK, and I am so afraid. I am not afraid for me, I get it. I can take it. I understand that not everyone is ready for children like K. But will she? I dread the day that K is exposed to the type of hate that is out there. I don’t want her heart to break. I can’t always be there to protect her and that terrifies me. I know it’s coming and I know that I can’t protect her forever. I just wish with all my hear that I could. Every time that we have had to tell someone, I find myself holding my breath, waiting until they respond to know if I can relax and breath again. I imagine that after the first really bad response, I’ll start building up an emotional exoskeleton, an “I don’t give a fuck what you think” attitude. It’s not there yet. I wonder if being exposed to the hate and realizing that it didn’t break us is the only way for it all to get easier. I hope not, but I just don’t know.