‘What did you do to make *her* like this?!’ Wow. My son was just 4 years old.’: Mom shares lessons learned raising trans son who ‘is blazing trails’

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“The most beautiful gift that stems from having a transgender child is the education I receive.

Not just the education about trans identities, but on all marginalized communities.

I’ve transformed into a completely different person, one I wish I would have become 20 years ago. My eyes have never been so open.

And also the lessons on parenting.

I didn’t always do right by my son.

I didn’t know what it meant to be transgender a few years ago. Many of us parents who grew up in a more conservative household, surrounded by people who looked just like us, weren’t privileged to know any out trans people.

I was washed in a cisgender, heterosexual world, like many of us.

So, I wasn’t listening to his persistent claims he was a boy, not a girl, from the time he could talk.

I laugh at the notion of my thought of being so progressive when I ‘allowed’ my son to dress ‘like a boy’ when he began voicing his opinions.

That was a big deal, more so for everyone around us.

A neighbor of mine once asked, ‘What did you do to make *her* like this?!’ when my son was just 4 years old, years before he came out as trans.

‘He’s his own person,’ I said, with the utmost confusion in my voice.

How did we conform to societal expectations so much so that we are critical of children’s self-expression? There must be something *wrong* if they don’t conform to gender roles?


That conversation was pivotal for me.

And as our journey forged on, I realized so many things…

We don’t own our kids. Our hopes and dreams for them, this vision we concocted of them since the womb, will NOT align with who they become. They have their own hopes and dreams and this should be celebrated, not condemned.

We need to earn their trust and respect.

Kids know themselves. We should be vigilant about not dismissing their physical and emotional feelings.

As parents, we rarely ever know better than they do.

…and so much more.

It goes without saying rules and boundaries and general expectations need to be modeled and exemplified.

But our sole mission in life as a parent is to love.  To support. To guide. To advise. To nudge. To remind. To empower. To nurture.

And just hope they can someday say, ‘Thank you for always loving and supporting me,’ and they become kind, thriving adults.

Kids are people. And I so often see them being positioned as robots to program, their feelings dismissed, them being talked about like they’re not in the room, constantly being told they don’t have self-awareness simply because they’re young.

Why do we do this, parents?

It’s my belief we all f**k up our kids in some way. We do because none of us are perfect, and parenting is hard, and it’s a practice. We’re all scarred.

But let’s allow their battle to be minimal within their four walls. Let’s try to parlay what scarred us into what empowers them. Let’s let them define their lives in new ways by the simple acts of listening and supporting.

This generation is blazing trails.

Let’s see what we can learn from them.”

Courtesy Vanessa Lee Nic

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Vanessa Lee Nic. You can follow her journey on her blog. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Vanessa:

Mom’s gripping open letter thanking teachers after school shooting: ‘You now have to worry, and even prepare, to take a bullet for our kids’

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