As parents, we want to do everything possible to keep our children safe. The best way for me to make Guido safe was to learn all I could about transgender people and their experiences. I wish everyone would take that journey, so we can create a positive environment for one another.
TUCUMÁN, Argentina — When my son first confided in me about being transgender, I felt grateful that he trusted me. I come from a very conservative family. While I found his confession unsurprising, it still impacted me emotionally. The fear and nervousness shone on his face as his voice trembled. I scooped him up in my arms and said, “I don’t know much about this, but we are going to get informed and figure this out together. Don’t worry, I will be here for all of it.”
After his confession, my son and I had a long heart-to-heart. It lasted almost all night. As he spoke softly, he told me all the things that had been weighing on his mind for so long. I felt like my heart might burst from all the love I felt for him in that moment.
I saw his vulnerability and quickly understood how important this was to him. When my son finally went to bed that night, his mood was lighter and happier. After our talk, we sought out information and support. When we contacted the Fundación Transformando Familias, they offered us the tools we needed to take the first steps.
I cried seeing my son Guido finally express his true self. Guido knew his identity from a young age, and I always sensed those differences. He never connected with the gender social norms imposed on him. Guido is 14 years old and has two brothers whom he deeply admires. At birthday parties, he rushed straight to the yard to play soccer with his brothers and the boys.
From the moment of his birth, I clothed him in flowery pants and dresses, but he never looked comfortable. When I began noticing his discomfort, I thought he might be confused; that he would grow out of it. My initial reaction reflected my own prejudice.
I feared people’s comments and worried about them judging my child. In fact, I never realized how intensely society imposes gender norms through colors, clothing, and toys. Nevertheless, Guido would not be boxed in.
In time, I discovered that many trans children suppress their identities out of fear of rejection. Lack of education leads people to misunderstand the struggles they face navigating life. Some trans people know at an early age, while others take time to figure it out. Being trans is not something they choose; it is something they feel deep down inside, at their very core. When a trans person cannot express their identity, they often begin to feel different and alienated from the world.
The hatred and bigotry that result from ignorance breaks my heart. “Why would another human being feel entitled to determine someone else’s identity,” I wonder. Despite my early lack of knowledge and my initial fear for Guido, we worked hard to become informed; to help Guido feel comfortable throughout his transition.
As parents, we want to do everything possible to keep our children safe. The best way for me to make Guido safe was to learn all I could about transgender people and their experiences. I wish everyone would take that journey, so we can create a positive environment for one another. While I cannot begin to imagine what it’s like for trans children, I know as a parent, it is not always easy.
The difficulties we face do not come from my child’s identity; they come from society – from always having to anticipate people’s reactions. To protect Guido, I surround myself with people who can be supportive of us.
I remember the first time we cut Guido’s hair. His eyes instantly lit up and a look of happiness spread across his face. I felt utterly moved by his reaction. When he came out to his classmates, they embraced him with open arms. They call him by his chosen name and never disrespected him. These experiences remain critical to Guido’s development.
Not all trans kids are that fortunate. It devastated me to learn about the mortality rate of transgender people and the constant battle they face in the world. From the moment they step out of the door and onto the street, their lives can be threatened.
Parents kick their children out and the world does little to protect them. Trans people end up unhoused and subject to violence at the hands of dangerous people. Too often, they navigate life alone devoid of human rights, medical support, and common empathy. We feel blessed to have found the Fundación Transformando Familias. They have remained with us through each step of our journey.
Today, Guido is the happiest child I have ever seen. He is confident and expressive. I watch as he opens up to life more and more every day. Recently, Guido told me, “I want to go swimming at the pool!” This may seem small, but it took a long time for him to be comfortable doing an activity so many other families take for granted. His strength and courage brought tears to my eyes.
To parents of transgender children and to society: we must make trans kids feel safe. It starts with us. Clear training and comprehensive education on gender identity remain key to eliminating prejudice and embracing diversity. We must give them all the love and support we possibly can.
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