Episode 1

Gender Diverse Family Planning

We have had one appointment at the Endocrinologist for J. We didn’t even meet the Endocrinologist actually. We met with a Social Worker and a Nurse to talk about what to expect as we head closer to puberty. J came prepared with a sheet of paper with his questions on it. The Social Worker was so sweet with him and made sure every question was answered. 

J’s questions consisted of things like:

“How many needles do I have to have?”

“How big are the needles?”

“Does it hurt?”

“Will I have to take medicine for the rest of my life?”

Serious questions for a kiddo who was just eight years old at the time. 

But one thing that was breezed over was probably one of the BIG thoughts us parents of trans kiddos/youth grapple with during transition. How will my child have children? What will his family look like? 

The advice the children’s hospital gave was to make an appointment with a fertility clinic. Did we make that appointment? NOPE. It feels like a conversation I shouldn’t have to have right now. It feels like a decision my child should get to make when he is old enough, responsible enough, and perhaps with a partner he cares for and respects. It isn’t my decision as his Mother to decide if he can or should have children of his own one day. But alas, like many things on this journey, we do need to talk about this. And unfortunately, Alex and I will have to help J make some of these decisions. 

  • To be perfectly honest. I was totally prepared to accept and explain to J that he won’t have a biological family of his own. Because really, I already know that there are so many ways to have a family and many of them do not involve biological children. But you know what… I was wrong … and I am so glad I hid from the conversation a little longer so that I could learn more about how families are built for gender diverse parents. 
    Enter Trystan Reese … who publicly first shared his story as a trans man growing his family on The Longest Shortest Time podcast a few years ago and continues to share his story on Biff and I and through his work as a social justice professional educating others on fertility for trans youth and speaking across the USA. We are so honoured to have Trystan speak with us this week on The Gender Diaries Podcast as part of our first episode of SEASON TWO! Check it out and learn with us.

— Lucy

I am Parenting a Transgender Child

The moment I knew J was transgender was on a camping trip to Vancouver Island. It is a special place that I spent annually with my family growing up, and now my husband and I take our two children every year to camp, search for crabs, and make summer memories. It is certainly my happy place, and I hope it will be the same for my kiddos when they look back years from now.

That summer, J was six years old and had just finished Kindergarten. It was what I can only call a terrible first year of real school. J struggled with anxiety that school year and when the summer came, we could tell, he was so much happier and freer.

J had been gender creative ever since he could express himself clearly around three years old. As a new parent, I was always pretty clear that I would raise my children from birth in a way that they wouldn’t feel the pressure to fit into a gender box. At least not from me. So the line between how much was coming from inside him and how much was my influence as a parent was very blurry.

Up until that camping trip, I thought I was raising a super-awesome future Feminist. And I guess I was, but he isn’t my Feminist daughter, he is my Feminist son.  

As is usually the way, my kiddos made fast-friends with a couple kiddos in the neighbouring campsite. It is something I love about camping, the fast-friendships that are formed while running through the forest. And just as J experienced in Kindergarten, when he meets new kids, there is always the same question.

“Are you a girl or a boy?”

J was a kid with a feminine name and a masculine expression, so for young children who love to categorize the box was blurry and that just doesn’t fly with 4-7 year olds. Ha! J liked to fly under the radar, avoiding answering the question. But his brother piped in,

“J is a girl,” he said.

Poor J was noticeably upset with this and his behaviour started getting what I call “goofy”. He became uncomfortable in his skin. He started to make funny noises, play in over-the-top ways, and react very sensitively to the ups and downs of regular play.

I have seen this over and over. The spike in anxiety, behaviour and emotions that comes when J is not comfortable in who he is or how others see him.  But that day was the first time I connected his anxiety with his gender non-conformity. I always thought his behaviour and worry was separation anxiety and distinct from his gender expression. I was wrong.

That night in the tent, emotions ran high. J could not settle down to go to sleep. All of us were frustrated. Any and every tiny thing would set him off in a fit of anger and sadness so intense, we were beside ourselves. This had happened before for sure ... everything is harder at bedtime … anxiety is high at bedtime.

But tonight we were in a tent, with thin tent walls that didn’t hide anything from neighbouring campsites. I was embarrassed and impatient, and that only heightened the emotions for him until he finally blurted out,

“Why can’t I just be a BOY?”

I froze as it hit me like a truck. I wasn’t frustrated or impatient anymore. It was clear, clear as day. I heard him, I saw him. I calmed my body and voice and looked him in the eye and said,

“Oh honey, you can be whoever you want to be. You can be a boy.”

The next day we went for lunch to an Italian restaurant. It was fancier than we would normally bring the kiddos to, but we needed good food and maybe a glass of sangria. J and R were colouring the supplied colouring pages, and when J finished he asked if he could write his name on it. I said “of course”, confused because he knew how to write his name. I wasn’t sure why he was asking permission. Then he says,

“How do you spell JACK?”

I looked at my hubby, looked back at J, and spelled it out. Just like that. It was that complicated and that simple all at the same time.

-- Lucy

Want to hear Ruby’s story? Check out Episode 1 of the Gender Diaries Podcast.