Celebrating Pride Month

Celebrating Pride Month

Funny, I always wanted a girl… so when my OBGYN announced I was having a boy, I was happy, of course, but a little disappointed! Yes. I said it. I was disappointed. I soon got over it though, and our little prince was born on May 31, 2000. Growing up, he was sensitive, petite, very quiet and painfully shy.

Bath time was super fun… Barbie dolls swimming in the tub, the mermaid type, with long hair flowing in the bubbly water. My son wore a wet bath towel on his head to mimic all of those long-haired Barbie beauties! Did I entertain the idea that he might be gay? No, because I just didn’t care. It was a non-issue because my child was absolutely perfect, whoever he decided to identify as.

Ten years ago, I received a text while I was out of town on business and it said: “Mom, I’m gay.” That’s when my journey began. I say my journey because it is my journey, my choice as to how to react and go forward, my duty to support, embrace and learn from my child. A week later a second text came through: “I know who I am, Mom. I’m not gay. I’m a girl.” I have to admit that I wasn’t quite ready for that one! Let me be honest, my heart dropped like a brick, and I felt suddenly isolated and didn’t know to whom I could talk.

My husband and I adopted a team approach in the beginning, and a whirlwind of assistance came her way. A counselor, endocrinologist, hormonal blockers, legal name change, gender marker change and lastly one surgical procedure. As fast as she wanted to go, and with guidance and assistance from the team, we were by her side. It was important for me to listen to her, to respond and respect her wishes as much as I could.

Challenges? Sure. She was enrolled in the Howard County Public School System when she transitioned three weeks before her 8th grade graduation. Needless to say, eight or nine years ago the school system was unprepared for transgender students. Some of her teachers were dismissive or demeaning while others were just at a loss. One of her teachers made a negative comment when she first wore a dress. The next day, all 32 students in her class showed up in a dress to show support for their friend. An absolutely amazing gesture. 

She was assigned a separate bathroom to use, and some of the kids who didn’t know her personally made fun of her or treated her like a freak. Her amazing music teacher in high school, however, went out of his way to welcome and accept her but nevertheless, we decided to home school her and find alternative educational options to ensure she received her diploma. By the time she graduated from high school, she was one of the most interesting and smart human beings I have encountered, with a vast knowledge of foreign affairs and political science.

Fast forward to 2023! The Howard County Public School System is now committed to providing an educational and work environment that is free from discrimination, fosters equitable opportunities and values diversity and commonality. The Board of Education’s anti-discrimination policy now includes “gender expression, gender identity, genetic information and sexual orientation.
To that end, a student will be considered transgender or gender nonconforming if, at school, the student consistently asserts a gender identity of expression different from the gender assigned at birth. This involves more than a casual declaration of gender identity or expression. Of greatest importance, respect is expected from all members of the school community.
For more information or additional support, call the HCPSS Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at 410-313-6600 or the Office of School Counseling at 410-313-6748.
In the words of the folk singer Bob Dylan during the heat of the civil rights and anti-war movements in the 1960’s . . . The Times They Are a Changing!

Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate, acknowledge and validate everyone’s own personal journey and zest for life. Each person has a unique story, and in fact they are brave enough to show the world their true authentic selves, no matter the consequence. They are reflective of the past, yet pushing the boundaries of options forward in their fight for equality. She’s an advocate for the absence of labels, and I’ve heard her say, “I’m a person like anyone else. People are people. It’s not complicated.” She doesn’t make it about herself. She just wants equal opportunity – a seat at the table – for herself and for so many others.

I’m so very proud of my daughter who is now 23 years old. I’m proud of the woman she has become, not because she’s transgender, but because she’s a great person. The individual decisions she has made for herself have been extraordinarily burdensome on her at times. Being yourself and leading an authentic life always comes with challenges. But she has totally embraced a commitment to make a difference in the lives of other transgender people, especially those who were not as fortunate as she to have access to the best professional resources and family support.

Happy Pride, Folks!

Authored by….

Proud Howard County Mom