This tale is not really mine to tell. However, not everyone with an important story is a writer. This is about my dear friend, Lucy*, who trusted me to share her story and believes it’s important to do so during Pride Month.
I have two boys, ages 7 and 10 and Lucy and I were pregnant at the same time with our oldest children. In fact, we were due the same week, but Lucy went into labor 3 weeks early while my son was born on his due date. My pregnancies ran like Swiss trains – my younger son was also born on his due date. Lucy’s pregnancies were not as smooth – her oldest was born by emergency C-section and her youngest was a preemie. We bonded in those days of morning sickness, exhaustion, and endless diapers. We could pick up the phone and tell each other anything, no judgment. “I gained 90 pounds.” “I want to murder my husband.” “I’m never having sex again.” When someone is part of your mom village, you can say it all.
Not only an empathetic friend, Lucy is also the mother you wish you had. The mother who stays home with you and loves it. The mother who cooks delicious food from her home country, volunteers in your class at school, and brings music into your life. The mother who paints your nails and dyes your hair and looks into your eyes and really listens to you. The mother whose laugh lights up her entire face and whose body fills with joy just from sitting next to you.
Lucy’s oldest child is a transgender boy. I saw the family recently for the first time since he began living as a boy. Before our visit, I called my dad to wish him a happy birthday and mentioned going to see my friends, whom he knows well. He was flabbergasted to hear about the changes in their family. He questioned whether the child was old enough to make this decision. I said to my dad, “These people are good, loving parents. They are making the best possible choices for their family. It has been really hard for them and what they need is support.” My dad is from a time before children could live as a different gender, and change is not easy, but I think he understands.
Lucy’s world is her children. So much so, that when her son came out as trans, she picked up the family and moved to another state to give him a fresh start away from people who judge. When I asked Lucy what the hardest part of being the parent of a trans boy is, I expected her to share difficulties her son was having. She did mention her fears about her son’s mental health. But what I didn’t expect was that she is missing the mom village that so many of us rely on to get through the hard times. She struggles to bond with other moms due to the need to keep her son’s story private because of legitimate fears for his safety.
As we reminisced about our children as babies and she grappled with names and pronouns, I understood. How do you describe your son in the period of time when he was a girl? How do you stand around the playground chatting with moms and mention that cute thing your child did that one time without editing in your brain so much that the moment has passed? How do you relate to moms whose struggles are screen time and getting their kid to take a shower vs. puberty blockers and friends who attempt suicide? And how do you do it all in a language that is not even your native tongue?
One concern people bring up about the trans community is that children will be confused. I can tell you that the kids handle this with no problems whatsoever. I had a brief chat with my children before our visit and told them, “The older child, Brian*, is a boy now. Please call him Brian. It hurts his feelings if you use his old name. If you have trouble remembering his name, ask him what it is.” Their response? “Okay.” They did not care at all! They were just excited to play after so many months stuck at home without seeing friends.
My hope is that as a society, we can get to a point where Brian and others are safe and it is not risky for Lucy to share his story with the people she meets. She’s a great mom and friend and I will always be part of her village, but she also deserves a village where she lives now. I don’t know how long this societal change will take, but let’s parent our kids so they get this right. It may be hard for my dad, but it’s easy for my children. We just need to treat people the way they want to be treated.
*Names have been changed.