By Jennifer Gerrard
Growing up I always knew I wanted to be a Mom someday. However, when I was 14 the doctors told me that I will probably never be able to have children. I spiraled into a depression that took me down some dangerous paths. I did get pregnant a few times, but I always lost it.
Then I met my husband. I was only 17 but I knew I wanted to marry him. I got pregnant again and again, and I always lost them. I cried every time. But we were young and figured the doctors didn’t know what they were talking about. When I was 20, I gave birth to my first child. Normal birth, and everything went how it was supposed to. I felt like giving the doctors the middle finger. Again, they warned me. I need to be very careful and not push my luck. But I was never very good at listening, so we kept trying.
Just before my child’s first birthday I found out I was pregnant again. Then I listened to the doctors. I did everything they told me to. I slept and ate properly, and didn’t pick up my other child at all. When I finally went into labour, it was so different from my first child. I was so scared. The baby was stuck and they couldn’t get it to move. Then the baby’s heart stopped. That’s the last thing I remember. I was hemorrhaging. I woke up hours later and found out that they had to do an emergency hysterectomy, just to save my life. This child was my miracle child. No heartbeat for two minutes and being stuck in the birth canal. But they survived and were healthy.
Fast forward a few years and that child is 6 years old. They come to me and say: “Mommy when will my penis grow in?” I explain that they are a girl and they don’t have one. They go into their room and cry for days. Nothing I say or do makes them feel better. I couldn’t understand what was happening. It was 2004. No one that I knew was talking about the transgender community. The internet was still fairly new and we were new, young parents. We couldn’t afford that luxury. I tried to find books and asked my doctor. Got a child psychologist. They all said that it was a mental disorder and that we needed to treat it. I didn’t know any better, so I went along with their plan. That’s when my seven-year-old child tried to commit suicide. I knew there had to be another way.
In the midst of all of this my husband was diagnosed with cancer. They told him he had six months left to live. So, I put my research for my child aside for a little bit so I could find a way to save my husband. My life was consumed by trying to find new drugs and doctors to keep him alive. While this was all happening, our oldest child decides to come out. I think they were seeing their Dad dying and wanted to tell him. We did everything we could to support them. I think my kids talked to each other and decided to see how we reacted to that news, before the other one broke their news. My husband lost his battle in 2012.
Now, I am a 35-year-old widow with 2 teenagers who are struggling with their sexuality and their identity. My youngest finds his voice and says I am a boy. “I have always felt like a boy, and I want some help so that my outside matches my inside.” I dive head first into finding out as much about the transgender community as I can. I finally find him a doctor, nurse and psychologist who can support him in his journey. Pronoun change and name change and he’s finally smiling and somewhat happy.
We live in a small town in Ontario. I am pretty sure that my kids were the first open and out Trans and gender non-conforming gay children. I hear the whispers from the adults: “Look, there’s the gay Mom. You know she turned her kids gay. She just lets them be whatever they want.” To all these people: Yes, I let my kids be who they are, and I am not embarrassed or ashamed of it or them.
To any kids out there that are struggling, there is always a seat at my table and a hug if you need it. Everyone’s journey is different, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Sit down and talk to your kids. Actually, listen to what they have to say. They are smarter than we realize.
*Jennifer Gerrard is a widowed single mom of a Trans son and non-binary kid. They are both adults now but Jennifer considers them to always be her babies. Jennifer works as a medical receptionist but has a passion for writing and is slightly obsessed with all things radio
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