It was a primal scream that went right through me and sent distress signals to my heart. My beautiful 4-year-old daughter stood up in the bathtub as though she were possessed. "Mommy, I'm supposed to be a boy. God made a mistake!" she screamed through heaving tears.
I look back on how I used to define love. I realize that without this amazing experience with my transgender son, I would not have recognized the different ways that love could be expressed. Risking the unknown, our family has been able to create a richer life.
When Nicole decided to become her authentic self, I was startled and unsure -- but time, education and counseling have made our parent/child relationship stronger than ever. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our extended family.
Society had graciously given us the "tomboy" label to justify our child's behavior, which we gladly used as a wishful excuse. But all too soon it became hard to ignore the earnest pleas for the McDonald's Happy Meal that included the boy's toy, or the innocent requests to wear male clothes.
My transgender daughter Nicole is my mentor. It's tough to put into words what a profound impact this small person has had in changing my core values, but since the young age of 5, she has unknowingly encouraged me to open my eyes and heart to new ideas.
I had the happiest baby you ever saw. But when my beloved son, at the age of 4, told me that something had gone wrong in my belly and that he was supposed to be a she, I assured him that he was wrong. By the age of 6, Will was threatening suicide.
Betsy and Ron, friends of mine who are also members of Equality Florida, were up north late last year visiting family when they stopped for a meal at a roadside diner. Behind their booth they could hear a woman berating her child for identifying as transgender.
A year after sharing her letter with her daughter, now her son Marcus, Kathy updated her original note to reflect the journey she and her son had experienced together. It demonstrates the difference a single year can make.
If your child has come out to you, you've been entrusted with a precious piece of his or her truth. You have a rare opportunity to become a hero, a champion for your child. You may actually be saving his or her life.
This is the child to whom I gave a girl's name, imbued with my own girlish hopes, nurtured the mother-daughter bond that I had with my own mother. What was my relationship with this person if he is my son?
When you have a gender-nonconforming child, you find yourself making choices you never thought you'd have to make. My husband and I couldn't have imagined sending our boy to kindergarten wearing a dress -- or that he would thrive that way.