Yesterday I got a text from an old (and wonderful) friend that said “can I give someone your number?” My relationship with the sender is such that I was not concerned, rather curious. I responded by saying “of course…but why?” People are often offering my contact information (and implied knowledge I might have) for any number of reasons: a breast cancer diagnosis, an issue with a child’s learning disability, a recommendation for a kick-ass hair stylist or, wait for it…a transgender kid. I am more than willing to speak with anyone about any of the aforementioned, but I do like to have an inkling as to which hat I am expected to be wearing before the conversation begins. In this case, it was putting another mom trying to traverse the unchartered transgender parenting waters in touch with me – if only because I am a few (baby) steps ahead of her.
Not long after the original text, my phone rang. On the other end was my friend who, having received my blessing for initiating contact, decided to skip over the email or text introductions and put us in touch immediately. Turns out she had just met this other mom while they were “chaperoning” a field trip (while on the phone with me, that is) and talk had turned to transgender parenting. (Note: when you are the parent of the child who arrives at school presenting as the opposite sex from their prior school years, everyone knows who you are. As such, when these two met, my old friend already knew who the new friend was…transgender announcements have a way of facilitating the process of identifying oneself. Go figure.) I answered the call and, with nary an introduction, was speaking to Joanne who I am quite sure will be a friend in short order.
We are a unique sort, us trans-parents and, as such, need to seek one another out and grasp on – sometimes for dear life. Our parenting challenges are just like everyone else’s; if you were to put those challenges on steroids, that is. Sure, some of the crap, er, issues, are ones no one ever thinks of (remember the bathing suit quandary of just a few months ago?) but, they are additional and not replacement worries. In the few short moments that we were chatting we covered about ten of them…and we were just getting started. (Aside: we each used the “f” word twice. Just sayin’.) With a promise to meet for coffee or wine (doh, wine is definitely preferable) we hung up so that she could resume her chaperoning and I my errands.
Here’s the thing: as much as she was happy and relieved to have been put in touch with me, I was equally, if not more, ecstatic to be put in touch with her. Yes, I have tremendous support and love. I have become friendly with several other moms from the PFLAG support group who have provided invaluable empathy and “yep, us, too” moments. But who doesn’t want more support and more empathy?? I know I do. So, Joanne, if you are reading this – great to speak with you and let’s keep reminding one another that we’ve got this. And Jen, love you.