My MTF daughter: An ordinary life with an extraordinary girl

For some reason or another, my blog has become less personal over the last few years. I’ve shared stories, news, videos and pictures, but nothing that is really personal—from the uberscribbling heart—so to speak.  That’s about to change. The uberscribbler is more than just an author, public speaker and social media junkie.  There are more stories to share, things that need to be said, and thoughts that I need to send out to the universe via the world-wide web. And so with a deep breath…

On Feb 9, 1998 I was in a delivery room at McMaster hospital in Hamilton.  I was 26 weeks into pregnancy and wildly distraught that I was losing my baby.  After a blur of white-coat activity, my second child came in to this world weighing 1121 grams. The celebration of life was announced to the room with three simple words. It’s a boy.

scan0003

15 years later, I find myself reflecting on that moment quite often. Announcing the biological anatomy of a baby at birth seems like a misnomer.  It has become a delivery room habit—almost a rite of passage for new parents. The sex of that child can mean different things, to different walks of life all over the world. For some parents, that determination can be crucial to their lives and that of the child.  In delivery rooms around the world, the air is thick with anticipation, until the obligatory sex declaration has been uttered.  It is then that life for that child begins—in an assigned role.

Sometimes nature gets it right and we don’t think it has—so we fix what we think it broke.  In this day and age, it is estimated that still more than 30% of the world’s male population (aged 15 and over) are circumcised.  From infancy.  Not from infection, or medical conditions, but just because—and without their consent.

Sometimes nature gets it wrong.  And I don’t blame her.  With all that we’ve done to her planet and the environment, it surprises me that we don’t see more birth anomalies as she digs in to protect herself—letting us know the only way she knows how.

It was 15 years ago my child was born with just such an anomaly. It wasn’t club feet, cleft palette, fused limbs, missing digits, dwarfism, intersex (hermaphrodite), down-syndrome or anything else that you could identify through sight alone.  According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 1 in every 33 babies is born with a birth anomaly (defect).  For as technologically and intellectually advanced as we believe ourselves to be, we still only count what we can see with our own eyes and observe through biology.  Anything that doesn’t match the majority is considered defective, like we’re some sort of assembly line where all end product must look and act the exact same way or it’s scrapped as faulty goods. We’ve instituted our own quality control on what it means to be human.

But what about the anomalies that you can’t see right away? The ones that require the collection of your other senses and the ability of the child to communicate?

mackenzie2

“Mommy, when I grow up… I want to be beautiful.” – Mackenzie, aged 3

I knew from a very early age that my child didn’t fit the mold.  I suspected that my son was not my son at all.  But this made me afraid. I angrily blamed society and its narrow acceptance of gender roles and made excuses to others who bullied and pointed fingers at my “sissy” feminine son.  Why is it OK for young girls to be a tomboy but not the other way around? I wrote letters to the President, the Premier, the UN, McDonald’s Corporation, and Mattel Toys asking them to use their positions of corporate power to stop perpetuating gender stereotypes. All the while, I ignored the pleas for help from my child and made assumptions that inevitably cost my child 14 years of true comfortable happiness. I violated my oath as a parent, which was to love unconditionally and do no harm.  Sometimes… doing nothing IS the harm.

It did not matter to my child if the world accepted them—only that I did. I adopted a new oath, “Love your child unconditionally, do no harm, and let them lead the way.

It was then that I learned the word transgender.

I’m not the kind of person that subscribes to labels.  I’m not racist or prejudice and I don’t put people in boxes.  I don’t like segregation.  People are just people—although I know as a society, we have a long history of unnecessary evil against each other.  I also don’t like the term “trans” (Latin for ‘beyond’) assigned to people.  There is nothing good, decent, or “right” about treating or referring to someone as beyond gender.  Giving them labels, and segregating them to their own groups does just that.  It points a finger at their different and unique individuality and infers that they are sub-human.  Not cool.  We don’t use the term transgender in our family, it is irrelevant.  Just as I don’t walk around the house referring to each other as Caucasian. We are what we are—and that is refreshingly unique.

It turns out that my son is actually my daughter, with a biological anomaly.  She was born with a hormone problem—too much testosterone in utero—which consequently led to the growth of testes and a penis. Her brain, personality and personal identity are all female, and always have been.  How did this happen? I don’t know, how do any birth anomalies happen?  All I can say is that we judged a book by its cover.

My daughter is so much more than just the sum of her biological parts. And I don’t want the cover to be her story. It’s time to move forward. As a parent, I have had to make some difficult decisions for the benefit of my child. I medically halted her puberty at 14 years of age, and I introduced her young body to estrogen.  When she is old enough, she will undergo surgery to correct this birth anomaly. (Currently covered under healthcare in some parts of Canada.)  I have received a lot of criticism over this, but I understand that people fear what they don’t know.  Fear and ignorance is the stuff that bullies are made of. I realized early on that any trouble I had with what my child was telling me, was more about me then it was her. I can never let my selfishness stand in the way of the absolute love and acceptance that my children deserve from me as their mother.  This was not a choice—for either of us.

quote

We are almost one year in now from her diagnosis. She is 15 years old, a junior in highschool, and she is a happy, confident, and self-aware teenage girl. She continues to teach me the value of courage, and I hold that lesson very sacred.  She is willing to lose everything to be true to herself and to help teach understanding for the acceptance of others like her. What could be more selfless than that?  It is with her encouragement, that I begin to tell you our story.

**Update – The video that used to be here is no longer available. As with any post that is 5 years old, things change. My daughter is living an extraordinary life… her life, and I support her decisions for a relatively anonymous life. Who doesn’t want that? Well, except maybe the Kardashians. 

You can read more of our story, or find tools for acceptance in my ebooklet, an unwanted penis. Available on Amazon Kindle, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other e-retailers near you. Spread the word and help more of our youth gain acceptance from their parents. #anunwantedpenis

Advertisements

72 Comments

Filed under non-fiction, parenting, transgender, world news

72 responses to “My MTF daughter: An ordinary life with an extraordinary girl

  1. Alex

    Why did you delete the video? 🙂

    • Hi Alex, I believe she deleted it because she no longer needed it, wanted it, or quite possibly, because it’s no longer relevant to the life she chooses to lead. Thanks for checking in and I’ll let her know that you were looking for it. 🙂

  2. Jamie

    I think she’s fortunate to have you as her mother. Not a lot of parents are as supportive as you are. I hope kids are not gonna have tough time coming out to their parents because they are raised in a conservative household. People must understand that being transgender is as normal as being cisgender. I think it’s only a matter of time before people get rid of transphobia and embrace the LGBTQ community. I feel canada is not hostile to these special individuals. Convey my regards and best wishes to your daughter and I’m sure she’s gonna make you a proud mommy! I couldn’t praise you with mere words as you deserve a lot of credits for trying to educate people with what you know. I’d also like to inform you that I’m unable to watch the transition time line of your daughter due to some issues in the YouTube. It would be good if you can reshare it here.

    • Hi Jamie, this reply is LONG overdue, but I didn’t want you to think I hadn’t read and appreciated your comments. Thank you for your kind words and also for your positive and extraordinary attitude toward human differences. It’s people like you that will change the world. 🙂

  3. samantha

    i am trans to mtf what should i stuff my bra with to make real feeling breasts

  4. Metal_Girl_Rachel

    I think it’s wonderful that you have such support and unconditional acceptance for your daughter. I’ve recently realized (after much research and soul searching) that I am trans, and even though it wouldn’t hurt anything I’m terrified of telling my dad. How do you tell someone after 22 years “it’s a girl”

    • Hi Rachel, I think you tell him just like that. Maybe in an “it’s a girl” card… with all the love, honesty and courage you can muster. You have your whole life in front of you sweetheart, and your life is for YOU. Your dad may need some time to understand, but he loves you. Be unapologetic with who you are and love yourself emphatically. xo

  5. Tom

    You are a wonderful mother for accepting your child for who she really is. She is BEAUTIFUL and don’t let anyone tell her otherwise. As the father of a transgender daughter, I know how important it is to be accepting and supportive of your child. We are just beginning her transition and I know that she has a long road ahead. My best to you and your daughter and I hope that life brings her (and you) everything you seek.

  6. sue

    You are a wonderful and supportive mother to a beautiful child who wants live the life meant for him/her. Like others I wish my parents would have understood and accepted me. I also stole my sister’s panties and bras. Imagine the thrill if they helped to do so at all times and especially when my parents were out of town and I was allowed to live as a girl even for a few days. I have been doing so for just over 60 years now. I was so thrilled when I wore a black bra yesterday under a white top with the straps clearly visible at the back and I was so happy. It’s just a piece of clothing item which men love to wear, that is all. NO BIG DEAL. I would love to so more often

  7. My name is Larry. Internet says I am female inside. I am 62 turned out male. Maybe mom should have corrected me into a women too. Excellent article. Beautiful baby girl. I could be having a better life as a women. I was 2lbs when born.Lucky to be alive. I still think of becoming a women and wearing all of their nice clothes and underwear and looking beautiful too.

  8. anariashki

    You are a wonderful mother of a beautiful and strong daughter. Be proud!

    My parents kicked me out when I came out to them at 14 and I had to do some pretty unpleasant things to survive. It took me until 21 to start hormones and by then I was pretty much physically mutilated by male puberty. I’m 25 now I’ll never quite look right, so I avoid mirrors as much as possible without eschewing putting myself together. Being accepted among other women as one of them and dating and getting a good job and having a social life are absurd fantasies when I look like this THING and I had a past like mine. I’m not the only grim story out there for late starters.

    But you helped her save herself from all of that. You’re one of the best mothers living, you know that? It’s super rare that a parent would trust their child in a decision they make that is so misunderstood and so taboo. Heck, when people think of being transgender, they think of someone like me, not your cute, intelligent, self-aware-beyond-her-years daughter.

    But you trusted her. She got what she needed and you broke with the majority and didn’t hold her back. I’m very happy for you both! As it is for all of us, she deserved for things to go well and thank you for being the rare wonderful mother who could make that happen for her!

    • Anariashki, reading your comment this morning has left me with a barrage of emotions. There are so many things that I want/need to say to you, but I’m unable to find the right words. I’ll begin with thank you. Thank you for sharing a part of you, and for the eloquent kindness in which you delivered it.

      Also, I accept you. Whole-heartedly and with open arms into the brethren of woman-hood. (Insert ceremonious music here.) It may surprise you to know that I’m not alone in that acceptance. You ARE one of us. (I know a woman’s heart when I hear it.)

      It may also surprise you to know that my daughter (who is now 17) shares many of the same feelings that you do… with regard to her looks and how she’ll be accepted. Being different in any capacity is no easy ride. As a parent, I have asked her to rise to the challenge. To let go of the old story, and never again ask ‘what if?’ As an individual, I realize that this is a terrifying request. Every day that she wakes up, she has to choose the glass half-full attitude. (As do most of us.) Because the default emotional state of glass half-empty just feels bad. But like you, she is still young. And I believe if you want something bad enough, you’ll never give up trying to find a way to make it happen. She has a long list of surgeries that she wants to help her feel more like herself and we daydream about her beautiful future together. (How they will be financed is still undetermined at this point.) But we don’t just dream, we believe in it.

      So, please don’t give up. Turn your ‘absurd fantasies’ into achievable dreams. When I become a kabillionaire, I will sponsor all that you want to feel like the real you. And then we’ll giggle and high-five each other like all besties do. Until then, love yourself. Fiercely. xx

      • anariashki

        Hi again and thank you for the very warm and thoughtful response!

        I just felt I should clarify that I did not mean to imply that your daughter’s life was free from difficulty and loss or that she should be 100% comfortable in the body she has now. I meant to emphasize that she dodged a bullet with your help, and was thus able to spare herself the completion of the wrong puberty (a traumatic even that destroys so much inside many trans women and changes many of their bodies into something horrifying for them, and for many the damage done by this process is largely irreparable–no surgeon will be able to make my body shape not extremely disporportionately large in the shoulders and rib cage and narrow in the hips, or shrink my feet to where I can buy shoes in actual walk-in stores instead of humiliating specialty online boutiques for male cross dressers and such) and spared herself the loss of an authentic teendom–so many of us deeply regret missing out on that, especially in the context of trying to relate to other women.

        This is a huge accomplishment you both made happen for her and I wanted to emphasize that–not to imply she has no sorrows or troubles of her own. The world is too complex for one great accomplishment to mean a life of perfection.

        Still, I will do my best to take your advice to heart since, ruined though they both seem to be, no magic wishing well is going to grant me a normal-looking body and another shot at the youth that was taken from me. The glass half-full approach might be my best shot.

      • jenni

        You so eloquently and compassionately accept her into womanhood . . . something I have sought from relationships including marriage all my life. Receiving full acceptance of my feminitity is crucial for feeling balanced. I live in the closet. At times I have been out but closeup at the first sign of trouble. Your fully accepting this young boy or should I say girl just blows me away. You redefine unconditional. It is a pleasure to know of you!

      • Thank you so much for your kind words Jenni. It is a pleasure to know of you too! 🙂

  9. Diana Becerra

    You’re a beautiful girl and I’m very happy for you and your mom, I wish I had a mom like yours, live your life to the fullest and happy. ♡

  10. Ishouldhavebeen

    I’m her age too. I feel the same way too. Watching the video I almost cried, reprimanding myself for not being me earlier, for having unaccepting parents, for not looking like her. I truly praise you, for allowing your daughter to be herself. Many can only wish to be in your daughter’s situation. I really regret my inaction….. now I’m going through puberty and it doesn’t feel good. Sometimes I just wanna die thinking I’ll never be able to sound like and look like a person who went through female puberty. Now I’ll have to wait till I’m 21 to correct the mistake myself and even then, I doubt I’ll look passable, making me feel less of a woman. I feel bad inside.

    • Dear Ishouldhavebeen, I know how discouraged you feel right now, but I promise there’s still time. You CAN be! I’m sorry about your parents, I understand this, and I’m currently working on a guide to help parents learn to understand, appreciate and remember how to support their children no matter what. I have grandiose hopes of changing lives for the better, yours included.

      Puberty sucks, no matter what gender you are. But I don’t want you to die, and I don’t want you to feel that way either. You matter. You’re important. You’re necessary. A real woman is not defined by how she looks, but by her actions and the feminitity of her heart and soul. Some of the most beautiful and gracious women in the world started their lives as men, and did not transition until later in life. (Google them and give yourself hope.) My daughter started male puberty, her voice is deeper, there is hair where she doesn’t want it, and subtle bone structure changes that she sees every time she looks in the mirror. But there is a whole world of possibilities out there for aligning how you look on the outside, to how you feel on the inside if you want it bad enough. I promise it is never too late to look and feel like the woman you know you are. Please don’t give up. Don’t settle for what should have been. Look forward to what will be. Choose hope. Be certain. You are already ahead of most, admitting to yourself who you truly are is the hardest obstacle for most to overcome. You have been true to yourself, even if only to yourself, and to me. I am wrapping my mothering arms around you across the interwebs in a huge squeeze to let you know how proud I am of your courage. Of how excited I am for you to take control of yourself and push forward with your whole life ahead of you. I am always here to help you, to inspire you, to support you, to provide you with information, and to lead you in a direction of hope. Dream big sister, for you are well loved. xo

      • Ishouldhavebeen

        Thanks 😉 your work will help future MTFs and i’m sure you’ll be the light at the end of the tunnel for many of us out there. Continue on your noble work! 🙂

  11. Hey, I actually saw this video a while ago and was so surprised that this story was written in accordance to your daughter. I just want to thank you and your daughter so very much for giving me courage. The videos your daughter made and other girls out there made has profoundly inspired me in ways you may not understand. I have felt different since I was born and now in my late teen ;18 🙂 I have started my journey; after a journey of a lifetime (at least for me) I have finally come to have the courage to be myself. I cannot thank you enough for your courageous daughter and your loving words that let me know there is true beauty in this world. THANK YOU AND THANK YOU!!!!!

  12. Thank you so much 🙂 I’m sure she will appreciate that, I will let her know.

  13. It hurt to read this because I want my mom to feel about me the way you feel about your daughter. I’m FTM and she’s not taking it quite as well as you are. You are an amazing mother.

    • Oh sweetheart, give her some time, you are her baby and she loves you more than life. In the meantime, I will love you like my own from afar. ❤

      • Thank you for saying that, you don’t know what that means to me. Was it hard for you in the beginning as well? When did it get better?

      • Of course it was hard. In the beginning I was confused, lost and terrified. I wish I could tell you how long it will take your mom, as we all go at different paces, but I do know that what she is feeling is fear. I know it’s difficult but try to be patient, be understanding, and love her like you always have. She will see that you are her same child and nothing will change that. If she is ready for information, let her know that I would be happy to talk or listen to help her understand from one mother to another. And you can write me anytime you want to talk too. I’m always here for you.

  14. Pingback: My MTF Daughter: An open letter to her friends | UberScribbler

  15. Your daughters story is amazing and I love it! I am a closeted transgender mtf 14 year old. I have been trying to come out to my parents but I just can’t! I would be extremely greatful if you or your daughter could help me with ways to get the courage to tell my parents! -thanks

    • Hi Alica! Thanks so much for the note. Courage is a funny thing, only you can find it for yourself. But I’d be happy to inspire your courage in any way that I can. 🙂 My daughter wrote me a letter. Well, an email really. She also wrote a really fantastic letter to her friends and posted it on Facebook. It’s a great letter. I’ll ask her for permission to post it here. Because I don’t know anything about you personally, I don’t know what to offer you in the way of inspiration. Please feel free to write to me with any questions (no matter how personal) at catherine@uberscribbler.com and hopefully we can find your courage to be you… every single day. ❤

      • Anonymous

        Thanks you sooo much that warms my heart! You are such a nice person and have such a great family too! If not too personal for you to share, the letter would be a fantastic way to help me! and I greatly appreciate it that you want to help me! I have told two friends that I am transgender and they support me 100%! It’s just not as easy to tell a parent and I really want to tell them before Christmas!

      • Awesome! I hope you have a very happy Christmas!!! 🙂 I’ll post the letter tomorrow, so check back then! ❤

      • Alicia

        Merry Christmas too you too! Hope it’s a great one! And thanks for everything you are doing to help me! 🙂

  16. Anonymous

    I love your daughters story story it inspires me! I am 14 now and I feel transgender I really don’t know what to do I’ve felt like I want to be a girl my whole life but told nobody! I would really love some advice if you or your daughter can give me some help I would be so greatful! I see that you said that surgery is covered under health care in some parts of Canada? I am Canadian and was wondering about that! And good luck too your whole family on this exciting journey! 🙂

  17. adam

    Very inspirational, i am 15 myself and still closeted as a mtf transgender. I really want to tell my parents so I can start transitioning before im ruined by puberty but im scared and not sure how. Your daughter is very pretty and I can only hope my journey will br at least half as agood as hers!

    • Hi Adam, are you close to your folks? My daughter told me through email, and then I marched right in there and we had a big heart-to-heart. I know it’s scary, because you don’t know how they will react, but I believe that if you’re open, honest and true to yourself, then in the end it will all work out. It’s like ripping a bandaid off, right? I’m right here for support if you need me. Maybe you can show them my post and then ask them how they feel about it? Then you can gauge how they might react. Good luck to you! ❤

      • adam

        Ok thanks again! There just strict christians parents but I want the teen girl life as well, ill try to tell them soon through email so they have time to think it through.thanks!

  18. Alex Russo

    you should be very proud of your daughter as a 18 Year Old, Closeted, Transgender Girl seeing stories lke this give me confidence to one day break my shell. I wish all the best to you and your beautiful daughter 🙂

  19. Anonymous

    At loss for words, it was all said soo right.

  20. Cynthialee

    Thank you for loving her so well!
    My mother is also very supporting of my transition and it has made all the difference in the world. When I see other girls who have accepting parents/moms it makes my heart sing. This should be the rule, not the exception.

  21. Thank you so much for sharing your story and part of our daughter’s story, you seem to be a wonderful mother. While my mom loves me unconditionally and now calls me her daughter, I can only imagine how difficult its been for her, especially after believing she had five sons for 40+ years, only to find out she has another daughter. 30 years ago when I tried to share with my parents my identity, it wasn’t very successful, and I hate wondering what if… I do hope other parents are equally accepting and follow the lead of their children as you continue to do. On a side note about your post, I’m a little curious about your comment that “nature gets it wrong”, nothing could be more right than your daughter.
    Best wishes ♥Gia

    • Hi Gia, thanks for sharing and for your nice words. With regard to my comment, I understand that each individual has a different experience and appreciation for how they were made or what they look like. I am in love with WHO my daughter is, not WHAT. And while every cell of my daughter’s being will always be perfect as-is in my eyes… she does not feel the same. My girl feels betrayed by a “nature” that didn’t match her outside bits with her inside. And so in our particular case, we feel nature got that wrong.

  22. Pingback: My MTF daughter: An ordinary life with an extraordinary girl | The Transadvocate

  23. When I read your blog it makes me wonder how my life would have been different if my parents had accepted my gender non-conformity rather than fighting it tooth and nail. You are changing the world through your actions and your willingness to talk publicly about it. Your daughter is very, very, lucky.

  24. Cher

    You are both amazing and so very brave – thank you for sharing. I don’t have words to describe how much you have inspired me on my motherhood journey-you are both gifts to each other and together you are giving us the gift of sharing your story. Thank you so very much.

  25. Pingback: the mother of all things—acceptance | UberScribbler

  26. Tracey

    What an amazing gift you have given to share this part of your lives with the world.
    I am beyond proud of your courageous and absolutely gorgeous daughter (you do keep her locked up for safety from all those boys, right???!!!)
    As for you Cathy, I have never doubted your ‘goodness’ and how genuinely you love and ‘care’ for everyone in your life~ anyone is truly fortunate to call you friend and as a Mom you completely ROCK!
    The fact is we are all quirky and unique creatures in this big and wonderful world- accepting our self,and others ‘self’, is the best thing that any one person can do 🙂

    • Tracey, I thought I couldn’t like you anymore than I already do. Your words have affected me more than I could have anticipated. Thank you for always being that person who shows generous kindness. xo

  27. Anonymous

    Wow! Fantastic, awesome, inspiring, uplifting….I need more adjectives!!! Catherine, you are probably the best mother I have ever come across and your daughter is so absolutely lucky to have such a strong support system beside her through this. She’s gorgeous…just like her mama, and will blaze trails throughout her life, without a question.

  28. Angela

    🙂 ❤ Beautifully Inspiring

  29. Beautiful is all I can say

  30. Liane Carruthers

    Oh man, ya got me! Sniff.. Sniff.. Not only are you awesome, but you got one pretty awesome daughter there too! She will teach many people alot of things in her life, she’s already on her way! xo

  31. theresa young

    beautiful …this is awesome and you are absolutly beautiful xo

what do you figure?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s