One of the things you don’t understand at the beginning with the announcement that your kid is transgender, is just how many questions are going to come up. Trust me, it’s a lot.
I’m sure in your own head even now you’ve had a few of the key ones flash across your own empathetic minds, the biggest one of course is, “just how much do you want to transition?”
But there are so many more that you never realise. Some of them are easy, like, “what do you want to be called?”
Others are a bit trickier to answer, such as, “what is your preferred pronoun?” The consistent point amongst these is that each one forms a little more of the picture of the whole. It allows you to see who this child in front of you wants to become, how they see themselves, how they want to be seen, portrayed.
In a way I envy Jackson … he has this chance to completely reinvent himself, in every possible way, but it’s also going to hurt a hell of a lot as each of those different parts are pulled apart, inspected, realigned and placed back again.
Which brings me to the toughest question I asked myself, and kept just to myself, until it was answered.
In a way I hate to admit it, but I also feel that it’s as much a part of the process as any other waypoint along the journey. At first, I was thinking to myself, “just how real is this? What does it all mean for my child? How do we know this isn’t just a fad or something they’re going through?”
Of course these questions were going to have to be answered in a pretty severe fashion if I were going to really ‘get it’, and never ask myself again.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with Amanda Palmer at all, but she’s this punk rock cabaret extravaganza that I first grew to love when she was performing as the Dresden Dolls, and later as a solo artist. She was in Canberra earlier in the year, and Squidlet is pretty familiar with her work and loves her style so we bought three tickets and all went along.
It was at intermission that it happened. A dear, dear friend of mine ran into us in the line for the bar, and immediately introduced herself to Squidlet, exclaiming something along the lines of, “you have such a beautiful daughter.” She had no idea about Jack’s transition, nobody really did back then, and I felt so bad for her because Kiddo’s response was in no way her fault, but I didn’t have a game plan for how to handle this, it was a new step, but Jackson’s pain was real, even though the intention was certainly never to cause it.
As the rest of the audience filed back into the theatre for the second act, Jackson and I stood hidden in the foyer. You never want to see your child cry, never, but I think that night we both needed it. Him to let out so much of what he hadn’t been able to, and for me, I needed those tears just to realise how real this all is for him, just what it means, how much it hurts to be seen by the world in a way that you just aren’t any more.
He sobbed into my shoulder, and I held him tight. This child who was now as tall as me, we stood together, holding each other like we never had before.
I held him and I no longer had to ask the question. With those tears I just knew.
It has been that way ever since.
Shannon's business card reads "photographer, writer, connector, narrator, autodidact, storyteller, wanderer, communicator, collaborator" which is mostly him, but he's also a mad Star Wars fan, a fur dad to two gorgeous little dachshunds and the biased father of one beautifully complicated child.
By day he's apparently working on a classified project that requires a top secret magic decoder ring, and by night he can be found recharging his batteries, usually wearing some sort of flannel.