Hello! I have some things to say, and I admit I’ve been reluctant to share it publicly because at the root of it, it is not my story but my child Luca’s story. So I am going to try to just write about my part of it. Someone I respect suggested I should write about it as a means of hopefully helping other people with my part of the story, and that gave me the courage to sit here and try to do just that. Luca has given me persmission to talk about this openly as well.
About a month ago, Luca came out as trans. She had told me a couple weeks prior that she was thinking of this, and was trying out she/her pronouns with her friends. Her friends were all very supportive, and I am also supportive of Luca being whoever she is. I hope in everything that I say from this point forward, that it is embedded in my words and that I am never suggesting otherwise; my support for Luca is absolute and complete. Even as I struggle to understand and integrate this into my brain and heart, I will ALWAYS support Luca 100%.
I have tried hard to be an ally of the LGBTQ+ community for a long time, and over the years, I have attempted to educate myself more and more as the information became readily available to me. I am also lucky to have another trans member of my extended family, and being present for her transition has been extremely educational and beautiful for me to be a part of. But when it is your own child, it’s kind of a mindfuck. I don’t know how else to say it. My mind was blown open, and I struggled to make sense of it initially. I can be woke AF, but I still grew up where people barely spoke of being gay, and I have a bunch of internal biases and sets of standards that my brain defaults to.
People used to use the metaphors for loss with me when describing coming to terms with Pete’s autism diagnosis. I never liked that very much, as it implied I had lost something — people would say I had lost my “dream” of what Pete could be had he been neurotypical. This rubbed me the wrong way because there is no neurotypical Pete. Pete is autistic and his autism is a huge part of what makes him who he is. I find the hardest part of being a parent of an austistic young man is that the world is not set up for him. It’s outside forces that make life more difficult than had he been neurotypical. I have nothing to mourn. Pete is quite literally one of the best people I have ever known, and I can confidently say that the world is better with him in it.
I bring this up here because I found myself in a similar headspace; not idential, but similar. Luca identifying as trans does not at all change the essence of Luca. Luca is and remains the same person she has always been. As she explores her true gender identity, she can become her authentic self. There is no not trans Luca, just like there is no not autistic Pete. Pete was autistic before his diagnosis, and Luca was trans before coming out. We now have more information, that is all.
How this is very different is that I knew Pete had developmental delays as a baby, and here I have been thinking Luca was a boy for 17 1/2 years. I think that’s where the mindfuck part comes in. Luca herself was unclear on her gender identity for a long time, so I could not have really known, either, any sooner than I did. I mention this because a couple of people have implied that I should have known sooner (and that maybe they DID know, which is impossible for them to know a thing Luca didn’t even know), and this implication upset me a lot. It upsets me I think because I adore Luca and we are very close, and I try to know both of my kids very well. I think my gut reaction to this implication hurt me, too, because I am afraid that I overlooked something that should have been an indicator a long time ago, and had I known, I could have helped Luca with this earlier in her life. So the implication hit me in an already vulnerable spot.
What’s great about Luca being 17 is that she can answer all my questions and help to educate me on these matters, both the specific matters relating to Luca as an individual and the general matters on understanding the gender spectrum. Luca enthusiastically helps me to understand all I need to know, and is so open and brave. This makes me feel very lucky! My brain defaults are going to have to change, and I know this will be for the better. I am a work in progress here, and honestly, each day it gets a little bit easier. I am determined to follow Luca’s lead, and let this unfold in the way that she sees fit. I am here to love and support and learn.
Probably the best compliment I ever got on my parenting came from Luca during this time. She told me that she was not hurt or harmed by seeing photos from the past (as I know some trans people are) because I never made her be a certain way, never made her wear certain clothes or have certain haircuts, and I defended her when people took issue with any way she presented herself. This means everything to me, and helps me get grounded when I am worried that I will fall short in parenting her now. Maybe if I keep doing what I’ve been doing, it will be okay.
I want to tell you one more thing Luca said. Besides knowing that the people who live in our house and our extended family would not have a problem with her being trans, she also knew that our close friend group, my community of friends, would support her as well. Even with this knowledge, it was still hard for her to come out. Coming out is hard, it takes courage. Please always be gentle to anyone who comes out to you.
In true Luca fashion, she wants no fanfare or overt celebration. She wants people to simply know: Luca is trans, and uses she/her pronouns. She will not be changing her name.
[I doubt I even have to say this, but the protector in me feels the need to be explicit: if you have any problem or issue with the trans community, please unfriend/unfollow/go away.]