It was 9:30 p.m. on a school night in November of 2019. Our son Jacob, who was 18, asked my husband and I if he could share something with us. We got comfortable on the couch, assuming we would be listening to a reading of a school essay. Jacob’s hands were noticeably shaking as he read from a folded piece of lined paper.
The deep and serious tone of his voice reminded me of our chat, three years earlier, while out for dinner. Jacob told us he was bisexual. The quivering but confident voice explained that he’d known for some time and was nervous about telling us. Our response was accompanied by big smiles and a warm embrace. “The world needs more gay, Jacob. We’re so happy you’ve entrusted and shared this with us. We love you so much and we’ll always have your back.”
Three years later, with a more serious tone, Jacob told us he was trans. As she read her letter to us, which explained the journey she’d been on since 2016, I felt deep pangs of love and protectiveness mixed with fear. Jacob was now my daughter, Jaden. My husband and I reflexively wrapped our arms around Jaden and told her we would always be there to love and support her on her journey. In turn, she held our hands, explaining that she was relieved to finally start becoming, on the outside, the person she was on the inside.
More on Broadview:
- Meet Theo Robinson, one of Canada’s first openly transgender priests
- 3 transgender Canadians share the journeys that shaped their faith
- U.S. seminaries make strides in welcoming transgender students
Jaden asked me why I was so fearful of her coming out and living as trans. I cited The American Academy of Pediatrics Youth Risk Behavior Survey that says transgender teens are at a higher risk of being victims of violence, using drugs and attempting suicide compared to their peers. That said, a lot of those claims are due to families who reject their trans teens. We’ve done just the opposite.
Beyond COVID, 2020 turned out to be a tough year for the transgender community in the U.S. The Trump administration’s rollback of health care protections and health insurance was the latest in a long string of attacks on transgender people. As the parent of a trans daughter, I was beginning to grapple with ensuring she could receive hormone replacement therapy, typically the first step in a gender transition. In November 2020, with a new administration and the promise of transgender health care protections, I felt hopeful. During our weekly story meeting, I was given the manuscript for what would become our story about Theo Robinson, a transgender Anglican priest.
Theo’s coming-out story and his ability to articulate and share the very complex social and familial challenges he faced was everything to the mom of a trans teen. It was a psychic balm for my mama bear soul. As I read his story, I felt like Theo was speaking directly to the mom in me, telling me that Jaden would start out “with baby steps” and become who she is meant to be. That she would find acceptance and be one of those people who helps everyone see that trans people are just normal human beings and that eventually, when more people see that, prejudice and intolerance would go out the window. Thank you, Theo, for sharing your story, for being a light to me and for giving me so much hope. You are amazing.
Carol Moskot is Broadview’s art director.
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