At just 3.5 and almost 5 years old, my two children know their genders very well. Both are happy to be what they were born to be (a boy and a girl) and, in many ways, each is a stereotype of his or her gender (my daughter loves princesses, purple, and sparkles while my son loves fire trucks and being "strong"). As a parent, it's hard to imagine what I might feel if my child didn't feel those things, if he or she told me they were in the wrong skin and wanted to be the opposite gender.
This is exactly what happened to the Maines family of Maine. After having twin "boys," Wyatt and Jonas, it soon became clear that Wyatt wasn't a boy. He liked pink and sparkles, yes. But it was more than that, too. He asked his mom at age 4: “When do I get to be a girl?’’ He said that he hated his penis and asked when he could get rid of it. In first grade, he was the boy with the pink backpack and a Kim Possible lunchbox.
Now, at age 14, Wyatt is Nicole, a functioning and happy teenage girl.
The story of how Wyatt became Nicole is featured in the Boston Globe and is more than a story of one transgender teenager and her transition to being who she truly is inside. It's a story of parental love and of accepting a child for who they really are, not merely who you may want them to be.
Nicole's father struggled the most. He couldn't let go of his "son" and call her Nicole. As an Air Force veteran and "former Republican," he struggled. "But once you get past that, I realize I never had a son," he told the Globe.
The parents brought their children to Children's Hospital in Boston where a revolutionary clinic is helping transgender children transition. For many, this might seem like a travesty, but anyone who has ever known anyone who is transgendered knows they are born that way and many know early. Unfortunately, because of prejudice and bullying and close-minded parents (and close-minded people in general), it often takes years for kids to be honest with themselves and everyone else.
It's tragic. The Maines are brave to tell their story, but in doing so, they are helping so many others. The world has no use for bigots and, as a parent, I feel that more than ever. I happen to have children who are very happy in their skin, but if that weren't true, I would do everything in my power to change that. That is my job as a mother. And if any ignorant fool stood in my way, I would roll right over them.
This is an example of true parental love and the support and help they gave Nicole helped save her from bullying and maybe even deep depression. If only every transgender child had such love and support.
We don't pick our children in our own image and any parent who expects that will be sorely disappointed. We love them for who they are no matter what. The Maines family should be an inspiration for all of us.
Would you let your son wear pink and talk openly about such feelings?
Image via dbking/Flickr