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My 2 children came out as trans. Nothing could've prepared me for what they have gone through.

Liv Styler   

My 2 children came out as trans. Nothing could've prepared me for what they have gone through.
  • My children came out to me one summer; they both started HRT to help with their body dysmorphia.
  • HRT changed their moods, but transitioning isn't easy, and I struggle to help them sometimes.

I was never a morning person until I became a parent. I transformed into someone who found a deep appreciation of the darkness before dawn. The morning became my haven — a place where moments of silence were punctuated solely by the chirps of early birds attempting to capture the proverbial worm.

However, in the last few years, my reason for seeking the safety of early morning twilight has changed.

I'm now a single parent to two teenagers — both of whom are undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT). That time before the sun hits the horizon is the only time I can convince myself that the world is safe for my transgender kids to exist.

Both of my kids came out one summer

I've always considered myself to be someone who could handle or adapt to anything. Despite that inherent faith I don't know if I could have prepared myself for how quickly things were going to change —especially considering both of my kids came out on summer break before they started sixth and seventh grade.

I wish I could recall every detail of their coming-out stories. I wish I could somehow remember the exact date or the outfit I was wearing, like a mental time capsule intended to capture the most important moments.

What I can tell you is there were signs. That summer, they both started to withdraw. They were sadder, quieter, and far more anxious. They were hiding in their room even more than usual, and their normally verbose responses to questions had turned into simple sound effects. I questioned them constantly about what was going on.

My eldest came out first. It seemed like he was the more tortured of the two when it came to telling me. When he finally let it all spill out, and both he and my youngest saw that my reaction wasn't negative, it seemed like the decision came far easier for my youngest to broach it.

I experienced a mixture of emotions. It started with instant pride — knowing the courage it took for them to talk to me about it and the knowledge that they wouldn't have had that courage if we didn't have the kind of relationship they felt safe enough to be brave in.

They're both now undergoing HRT

It's been years since they came out, and trust me when I say those years haven't been easy. The three of us separately and collectively went through hellfire together in various ways. No matter how supportive I am, and no matter how much I would go to war to protect my children, there is nothing I could have done to prepare myself for what they were going to go through — and not just from outside forces.

The protective bubble I was willing to put them in wasn't enough to protect them from people who were quick to judge — and it couldn't protect them from themselves either. No amount of love or support is enough to combat body dysmorphia, emotional upheaval, and the nagging feeling that you're never going to be looked at as "normal" again. The intense body dysmorphia they both grappled with took a severe toll on their mental health.

Both of them were so desperate to get hormone replacement therapy (HRT) — a process that requires the injection of hormones intended to alter or replace the ones naturally occurring in the body.

The longer a person is on the treatment, the more pronounced the effects: deeper voice, more facial and body hair, the slight squaring of the jaw and shoulders — all things associated with the male-gender-construct. They were convinced that if they could get on HRT, those ugly feelings of hating themselves and the body they existed in would go away.

For the last 12 months now, they've both been on a steady cycle of testosterone. While I can't say HRT has been the cure-all, I can say that it has made a monumental change in their self-esteem and their confidence.

As they become more themselves, I worry how they will fit into this world

Recent studies show murders of trans people have nearly doubled, and Black and Latinx tend to top the list. We're LatinX, so I can't help but worry for my children. I support and encourage them to be who they want to be, but I can't ignore these statistics.

The first time my kid told me they were going to change in their chosen locker room, I was terrified for them. But they survived it, and so I will, too.

I look to them for courage because no matter how hard it is for me — as a single parent to carry them through this — none of it compares to the kind of day-to-day struggles they have to deal with.

There's no instruction manual for any of this, but my solace is in the silence before dawn. In those moments, I'm allowed to take in the brightly-hued sunrise and daydream about my kids being able to exist as their authentic selves.