Spring Clean

L is now using female pronouns but her old name and has been presenting full-time as female since the hair extensions at Easter around six weeks ago.

Yesterday she decided to have a complete clear out of her clothes.  I wasn’t impressed to find everything piled up in the middle of her bedroom floor but she soon had all of her recently purchased tops, skirts, and dresses hanging up neatly.  That was the easy part.  Dealing with the old (boy) clothes was a little more complicated.  It was easy for her to discard most items but there were a couple of favourite jumpers and onesies which she was reluctant to let go.  I encouraged her to try them on to see how she felt about them and we were both shocked – what had once suited, now looked completely wrong.  The main thing we both noticed was how long, baggy, and shapeless the clothes were – she had been hiding her body all of this time without either of us really realising it.

She is tall (recently measured at 6ft 1) and slim and now wears fitted clothes and is very clever at “tucking” to ensure a feminine outline.  Although it has only been a few weeks, her confidence and happiness are off the scale compared to before.  She just looked drab in those clothes and we will both be glad to see the back of them.

So we now have a lovely selection of boy clothes for L’s best friend to choose from and the rest will be going to a charity shop.  We can also see what additional items are needed to make a nice selection of outfits and have a shopping trip planned for the weekend.  She has stuck to jeans and tops so far and it is exciting to think that she will be wearing skirts and dresses more often soon.

On the cusp – tears and anticipation

L has had a bit of an emotional week which culminated in floods of tears.  Being transgender means that L hates they way their body looks.  However, neither of us realised that slowly but surely they are thinking of themselves more and more as J (their true, female self) and that this gulf between their perceived self and their outward physical self was causing additional stress when looking in the mirror.

I think there has been a lot of focus on J (rather than L) recently – we have been shopping for make-up, feminine underwear and shoes as well as talking about future events that J will be going to.  So things came to a head with tears but we have realised that sometimes you need to tears to wash away the worries.

Next week L will be getting the long-awaited hair extensions and the following week we will be off to our appointment with the Gender Identity Clinic.  With the make-up, hair, and new shoes, they will be returning to school after the Easter break looking quite different – they will be returning to school looking like J – and that can only be a good thing.

 

Swansea Sparkle: A Transgender Story

Last November L, my husband, and myself were filmed for a documentary which goes out on BBC Wales at 10.40 pm on Tuesday 22nd March 2016. The documentary: “Swansea Sparkle: A Transgender Story” tells the stories of three people from the trans community in Wales:

  • Paul is a former builder who is also a transvestite who set up Tawe Butterflies to give local trans people a safe environment in which to explore their gender. The documentary begins with Paul’s efforts to raise money and support to hold Swansea Sparkle 2015 in the local Maritime Museum. Later in the documentary Paul allows us to see his transformation into Sadie – a rare thing for a transvestite to do.
  • We also see Rhian, a steelworker formerly known as Robert, as she goes into work and also visits her close friend for the first time.
  • Thirdly we are introduced to my child, L. Early scenes show them in their bedroom talking about clothes before moving to our farm where my husband makes a passionate speech about his fears for L but ultimately he talks about his unending support for L’s transition.

Transgender people may be “hot property” at the moment (think Caitlin Jenner and other celebs) but these are the stories of ordinary people and their struggles. The documentary also looks at the importance of friends and family for the trans community and touches on the fears and hopes of all of those involved.

The programme culminates with the evening Sparkle event with everyone dressed to the nines. When this airs it will be the first time most people will have seen L fully dressed.

Link to a promo for the programme

 

 

The next big step – a “hairy” moment

Great news, we have just heard from the Tavistock Clinic in London that they are offering an outreach appointment at Llandough Hospital in Cardiff.  We are booked for Monday 11th April 2016.  It’s an hour with two of their psychiatrists and, from what I can gather, it will be more history-taking and general assessment.  It will be great to see the experts and really start to plan the many stages which L has to take to fully be seen as J.

Spurred on by this news, we have booked in for hair extensions.  After much searching we found a brilliant lady close to home and the deposit has been paid.  However, due to the New Year celebrations the hair, which is coming from Russia, has been held up somewhere in China!

L has also now had their second ear pierced and I am impressed by what a difference it makes – having a pair of matching earrings seems to add a degree of femininity.  Added to that, they now need glasses which is hardly surprising as I am incredibly short-sighted.  We looked at all frames but kept drifting over to the “women’s” range – the lady in Specsavers commented that most of their frames are “fairly unisex” – I’m not sure whether she wanted to say “the male frames are over there” – bless her!  Having glasses which emphasise L’s eyebrow shape and cheekbones has done wonders.

Psychiatric consultation and beyond

I knew that L’s transition had to follow a number of official steps so we started with seeing the family General Practitioner (GP).  Thankfully he was very receptive and, after taking a bit of medical and family history and a brief physical examination, he was happy to refer L for psychiatric assessment.

It wasn’t long before L was invited to the local Child & Adolescent service.  L was seen alone first, then I had to go in alone, and then we went in together, with the whole thing lasting around 90 minutes.

To be honest, I think we were expecting a bit more from the appointment but, in hindsight, I realised that the psychiatrist had two goals: 1) To make sure that L had no underlying psychological issues which may make them feel unhappy about themselves, and 2) To make sure that L was not being pushed into anything by his parents.  Hence the questions about my only having one child and about my tattoos which I have written about in another blog.

At the end of the session the psychiatrist confirmed that L had “classic gender dysphoria” and agreed to refer to the Tavistock Clinic in London.

A little bit of background

According to my medical records, I gave birth to a son in the year 2000.  Despite a stressful birth and a minor physical issue which had to be corrected surgically, his development was fairly normal.  Throughout childhood, my child played with a full range of toys, including train sets, remote-controlled cars, Lego, and comic books.  There were times riding quad bikes, climbing straw bales, and playing in the mud (and much worse) on the farm.  But also there was a fully-furnished dolls house, colouring books, and an enviable collection of Bratz dolls and accessories.

L was never into team sports (football, rugby) and played more with girls than boys.  I never thought anything of this as I am a strong believer that each child should find their own likes and dislikes and not be overly influenced by their parents.

Through the school years, L would often get called gay (especially by boys) and, to some extent, this was what myself and other adults thought.  It wasn’t until L turned 15 earlier this year that it suddenly dawned that my child was gender-dysmorphic.  I knew that L had been unhappy in a male body (especially once the changes due to puberty started kicking in) and the more we talked about things the more clear it became.

So we are starting out on the next stage of a long journey and I hope to use this blog to put a parent’s perspective on that journey.  We have already been through psychiatric assessment (more about that in another post), we have become part of the trans community in South Wales, and we are now waiting for the first visit to the Tavistock Centre in London.