Hi. I'm mum to two great children and 2 wonderful grandchildren. I'm going to chat about the LGBTQ+ community. But bear with me.
When our babies are little we have hopes and dreams but mostly we hear ourselves say 'as long as they are happy'. But what if they are not? What if after years of therapy and antidepressants they are still not 'happy'. Of course not all children will require interventions that mean you need to fight to get support but some will.
And what if your child tells you they are bisexual or gay? You still want them happy right, perhaps you have a little unease about their future, possible grandchildren, what friends and family might say but being 'gay' is pretty acceptable to most people now, so uneasy thoughts to one side. We're good to go.
You can still see your child is not 'happy' though, something isn't quite right, perhaps a medication review is on the cards.
Then one day you hear 'mum, I'm non binary'. OK. You've sort of heard your child talk about different 'gender identities', pan gender, gender fluid, there were others, can you pin point non binary?
Your child explains about not identifying as either male or female. OK. You hug and think, I'd better do my homework. As long as they are happy, right? As the days go by they become more relaxed, less anxious, happier even.
You join an online group to share experiences and get support. Parents are experiencing the same scenarios.
Your child asks to change their name. Your child asks for a binder, your child tells you they present with dysphoria over their periods.
Some parents have issues with their child using different pronouns (they /them or from her to him) and the biggest issue seems to be over names.
All I can think of is 'my child is smiling, my child asked for a hair cut, my child let me take a photo AND they are smiling'.
Because this isn't about me, about my hopes and dreams for them. This is 100% about my child and their needs. If I'm confused with the whole thing how must they be feeling? I cannot imagine not being me, pretending to be someone I am not.
And so our new journey begins, new name, new pronouns, still my child, still so much love. So when you say 'I just want my child to be happy' remember that may include some huge changes /hiccups or battles. But remember, they will always be your child, fight for them, advocate for them and make it about their dreams.
AUTHOR NAME WITHELD