I Don’t Wear Pink

Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

In this article for Parenting magazine, Alex Bliss (all names have been changed), explains with complete honesty the process she went through in order to embrace her child being transgender; initially struggling to accept that her four-year-old daughter identified as a boy. 

…My daughter, the nurse explained, had peed in her pants in the middle of the cafeteria.

I rushed to the school with a dry pair of pants and underwear.

“What happened?” I asked.

Isabel was silent.

“Did you wait too long? Are you feeling sick?”

It would be hours before she would tell me, “I couldn’t hold it.”

“Why do you think you have to hold it?” I asked.

“I can’t use the bathroom,” she said.

There was anger in my throat. What teacher doesn’t allow children to use the bathroom?

“I’ll talk to your teacher. This is crazy,” I said.

“No, mommy,” she said. “It’s not the teacher. I can’t go because I’m not allowed in the boys’ bathroom and I don’t belong in the girls’ bathroom.”

Even as I worked with the school to ensure that she could use a gender-neutral bathroom and even as I found myself saying “she might be transgender,” I harbored—and courted—doubts. My stomach turned whenever I thought of Boys Don’t Cry. How would I keep a transgender boy safe? How would a transgender boy find love? Happiness? Success?

Turning to therapy for answers, it became clear that this was not a “phase,” but reality.

Before our rear ends had even warmed the couch, I blurted, “I need to know if this is just a phase. If she’s transgender, I need to know for sure.” I wanted a test, a diagnostic tool like the Beck Depression Inventory, something definitive that would pronounce my child transgender or not. I learned that no such test exists.

Still, my husband and I left the room so the therapist could conduct an initial evaluation.

Twenty minutes later, we settled down on the same couch, my husband on one side of Isabel, me on the other.

“Your son said something interesting,” the psychologist said.

I heard the word “son” louder than the “your” and the “something interesting.” It was as if the therapist shouted that one word through a bullhorn and bolded and underlined it just before it traveled the distance from her mouth and to my ears.

He said he didn’t think his parents were ready yet.”

Gradually, Bliss started to refer to her son Shane, rather than her daughter Isobel. Explaining to more and more friends and family about his gender. As she embraced the situation, she realized that she had a son — and that she loved him.

About halfway through fifth grade, just before he went to bed one night, I looked at him. Really looked at him. There was that short hair and handsome face, the deep-ish voice and abrupt mannerisms, a bare chest, and arms folded behind his head.

There was no doubt. He was a boy.

He wasn’t just any boy, either. He was my boy. My incredibly smart, funny, quirky, kind, just-plain-awesome boy.

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