Two B.C. moms to young transgender boys both say there was a specific moment they knew their child was transgender.
“Experts often talk about transgender children being ‘insistent, persistent and consistent’ in their identity, and this is certainly the case for both our families,” one of the moms, Lucy, told Global News in an email interview.
“And for us as parents, learning to listen to our boys and let them lead through affirmative parenting really did create a positive space where they could communicate their identities to us.”
Lucy is now one-half of a new podcast that aims to break down barriers and open up the conversation about navigating life as a parent to a young transgender child.
Started by two moms from the Lower Mainland, The Gender Diaries explores the ups and downs, the moments, the patience and the love involved in parenting transgender children.
Known only as Ruby and Lucy – pseudonyms used to protect their children’s identities, the moms refer to their children, who are five and eight years old respectively, as “Z” and “J.”
As they explain on their website, “Our identities are anonymous because we have chosen to keep our children’s identities private so that they can choose when and how to come out under their own terms in the future.”
In the 12 episode podcast series, Ruby and Lucy tackle topics around ideas of “coming out” to family and friends, using the bathroom at school and taking their kids for their first haircut.
The two moms didn’t know each other before becoming parents to transgender boys. They met online and then found out they only lived a five minute drive apart from each other.
They decided to create the podcast together to help foster a sense of community and belonging for parents of transgender kids at a time that can be isolating and challenging.
WATCH: (Aired November, 2018) Tru Wilson, a transgender teen in Ladner, B.C., has made it her mission to help put in place policies to protect LGBTQ2 students, no matter where they live. Robin Gill reports.
Ruby says she was also inspired by the podcast How to Be a Girl.
“When I first had the realization I was parenting a transgender child this particular podcast gave me a lot of love and comfort at a time where I felt I had almost no one to turn to,” she said.
“I loved it, and loved hearing Marlow’s daughter’s story. I thought, ‘I want to add to this conversation. I want to add to this narrative’.”
Feedback to the project so far has been very positive and has opened up doors about parenting a transgender child and some of the challenges faced along the way, she said.
“I think the hardest part of parenting a transgender child is the assumptions that come along with this,” Lucy said.
“People presume that the hardest thing in our lives was loving this child despite them being gender diverse. That is the farthest thing from the truth! Loving our kids for who they are was easy for us. What is hardest is all the poking and prodding, often from well-meaning cisgender friends and families.”
While the two moms have fielded many questions from family members, friends and strangers, they say they have faced some very rude questions and assumptions as well.
“Navigating daily tasks where people misgender our kids is also extremely frustrating,” added Lucy.
While these topics are covered in the podcast, neither J nor Z have heard any of the episodes yet.
“We hope that one day when they do listen to the podcast, they are proud of us,” Lucy said.
“We hope they hear our stories and know that we shared, not to embarrass them, but to advocate for them and other families like ours. And also to know that we are proud of them as well, and are honoured to be on this journey with them,” she said.
“I look forward to them hearing their stories as we told it in the present, and not as a somewhat skewed narrative that has changed over time.”
Both Ruby and Lucy say they are lucky they live in progressive communities where their children are accepted and loved, but a common question they do hear is whether their children are too young to know they are transgender.
“Studies have shown that children who are so clear at such a young age, rarely ‘change their mind,’” Lucy said.
“But I would also add that if one of our children were to slide along the gender spectrum throughout their life, we would also support and affirm them at that time. Gender identity is not binary as we once thought, it is a spectrum similar to sexual orientation and gender expression and it is OK to slide along that spectrum to find out what is a good fit for you.”
The two moms also sometimes address this question by turning it back on the person, asking the questioner if they were certain if they were a boy or a girl when they were young.
And when the person says they were, it shows how sure they were in their gender identity, Lucy explained.
“If you are cisgender, you don’t question what your gender identity is, and our children do not question theirs either,” Lucy said.
WATCH: (Aired November, 2016) One of B.C.’s leading experts on transgender children and youth, Wallace Wong, joined Global News Morning to talk about kids questioning their identity.
Like any parent, Ruby and Lucy have many fears about their boys growing up and navigating the world, but through the podcast and starting conversations they want to create safer communities for trans people of all ages.
“We need society to change in order for our children to grow up safe and happy,” Lucy said. “And we hope that The Gender Diaries podcast can help highlight the need to accept, love and affirm gender diverse people in our communities.”