“Todays date is April 11th 2015. Its a big day. Our oldest child is being assessed by a specialist in Portland for being transgender. I can already tell you what the result is going to be; AJ is a boy. Now I know many of you will not be able to accept this, at least at first. Lord knows I have had my breaks on for the longest time. I had to watch Ted talks, Dateline 20/20 episodes, read Time magazine articles, and quite frankly have some time on my knees. Shannon and I have had many hundreds of talks trying to navigate this. We saw a professional who understands gender identity issues so we could talk, get more understanding, and ask for direction. We are not announcing this to be trendy, wild, or whatever manner of reason you may think. It is simply that our child has been born with a boys brain and cannot live life identifying as a girl. If society made me wear a dress, shave my legs, grow long hair and wear makeup, I would not be able to fit in to the role as a woman… I don’t identify that way. That is all this is. Quite simple really. For some of you, acceptance, tolerance, and affirmation will be your reaction to this. Shannon and I are so very grateful for that, and we will need a lot of it. This is not an easy road to travel. We stand to loose relationships, face persecution, and have a long difficult road helping our child fit into society as they understand themselves. As a slogan says; “Its not a choice, its a child” so too we find ourselves needing to support our oldest. Many of you will think it is foolish to post this on facebook, or send a letter out… its not anyone’s business… lets keep it quite. My child cannot keep quite anymore, “I’m a boy, and I want people to know that I am a boy.” Again I implore many of you to not resist or reject; 41 percent of transgender teens will end their own life because their very own family or communities will reject them and tell them they cannot be who they are. That is too tragic. So, with hands clasped together as a family we are proceeding forward – with AJ as a boy. AJ will recieve a recommendation today to Randall Childrens Hospital in Portland where he will find help. For Shannon and I we have been dealing with this for a long time, but understand that we have family that is just now being brought into the loop and it is difficult for them to understand what is happening. Please respect their privacy, there is absolutely no reason to be calling them and asking them what is going on… they are trying to understand themselves. If you have questions you may contact us. There is also no reason to talk to AJ about this… unless you are a certified transgender therapist. We simply ask that you refer to AJ by his chosen name or in masculine pronouns. If you cannot do that, then we kindly ask that you do not address our child at all. Shannon and I understand full and well that this is a difficult path, we hope to find a surprising amount of love and kindness from those we come in contact with.” -Dan
”Family, I am a boy! I would love if you could call me AJ or manly pronouns. I love everything about being a boy!” -AJ
When we posted this announcement my son cried. He didn’t cry because he was scared or worried. He cried because he was happy. He fell on my lap hugging me, crying, saying “thank you so much for letting me be who I am. That was more confirmation than I ever needed.
After some time a few more family member came around to understanding what this was and that nothing needed to be fixed. There were comments like “this is a sin!” “your child is too young to make this kind of decision.” “how can you allow this?” “maybe she just doesn’t want big boobs (yup that was one of them)” “how will she ever find love?” The questions pissed me off. Stupid questions and comments like that just made me not want to interact with some of these people. Still, there are people we meet, family members, and some friends who still don’t see it how we do, who haven’t yet educated themselves. We hope this changes someday and that those people will care less and less about gender and just focus on the person.
None of this has been easy. My son has asked many question, hard questions. “What if no one loves me because I’m like this?” “Why can’t I just have a penis?” “How will I ever have babies with someone?” These aren’t that hard to answer when talking with an adult but when you’re dealing with a 9 year old, a 10 year old…these are more painful than you can imagine. I’ve held my son while he cried tears of pain, I have cried right along with him many times. My son is amazing. I couldn’t have done what he is doing. He told us that he wasn’t who we thought he was. That there was nothing “girl” about him…he was all boy. He waited so long to tell us because he was afraid. I wish I had known sooner, that this would have been dealt with when he a toddler or before he started school. I didn’t know, how could I?
There were many things to change in the coming months. We hadn’t called him by his birth name for about 6 months at this point. He went from Adelyn Josiah to AJ. So the name thing wasn’t a big deal (I thought). At the end of 4th grade he asked to change his name. I wanted him to keep his birth name (just as a 2nd middle name) because he’s named after two women I love a lot! I didn’t realize how much he wanted to be “away” from that name. To have something masculine instead. So, after lots of talking we let him pick his own name. He worked hard on this. This was so very important to him. We looking at hundreds of “A” names (he wanted a name that started “A”). Aiden, Alex, Aeman, Ari, Alder…the list went on. He narrowed it down to 4 names but he wanted to check one more time. I clicked on a site and the first name I saw was “Arrow”. I giggled and offered that up as an option. He dropped his pencil and a smile formed on his beautiful face. “That’s my name mom!!” and at that moment he became Arrow. We legally changed it in August 2015. His name fits him so well. “Arrow” means powerful and complete…how true.
Another change was hormones. Oh man, really? This was a little scary. An implant to suppress all estrogen? Lots of questions, lots and lots of them. Lucky for us our endocrinologist is wonderful. She led us through the process, what it would be like for Arrow. Since my kiddo couldn’t stand the thought of needles we decided that sedation would be best. I couldn’t be in the room with him and that was tough. In the end all went well. He has an implant in his arm that keeps his body from producing estrogen. What does that mean? NO BOOBS and NO PERIOD!! Those were huge issues for our son. He will never ever have to go through puberty as a girl. He will never have to use a binder or have top surgery. These are two things that I am so grateful for.
There are still things that we need to change. Insurance was a doozy but it’s done. Gender on his birth certificate will be hard. He was born California and as far as I can tell he has to be undergoing sex change surgery before we can get this corrected. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up. Most of this is hard stuff. The logistics, the emotions, the pain that we’ve watched our son go through, but it’s been exciting at the same time. Seeing him become who he is, watching him go from having these insane angry outbursts to being a happy kid. Loving him through all of this has been the best part. Our journey isn’t over and there will be obstacles that he will have to face but he knows that we are behind him and that we totally support him. The future will also hold so many amazing things for him. Love, career, kids…everything you want for your child. Our family is so blessed to have Arrow. To get to experience his journey and his compassion. He isn’t better than our other kids, please don’t read it like that. He’s just different. The path is one that none of us saw coming but we are so happy that it did.