As a parent, what is it like to find out your child is transgender? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Danita Lee Ewing, former Clinical Assistant Professor at Oregon Health & Science University:
It answered a lot of questions. I always knew there was something but not what exactly. Jae was always different, more sensitive, more interested in non-stereotypical boy things. She loved stuffed animals and had a huge collection, for example.
She sat me down and told me at my home. Came over and made me delicious munchies. (Those orange scones!) I knew some things but not a lot. I had been somewhat (but more now) active in LGBTQ supporting activities and had friends who were gay, lesbian, or bi. I had two students who were trans who asked and received permission to speak in my adult health and illness course about trans health issues as part of the content. So I knew a little.
Mainly, I listened. And was afraid for her, anguished for all she had been through to get to this point. Proud of her for living her truth. Honored to be the first person besides her wife and her other partner that she was sharing this with. Scared I was going to say or do something wrong. Grateful she was so open to sharing and my questions.
I tried to be very respectful of her need to proceed at her pace and share with those she felt safe sharing with. What didn't change was the love. This was my child. It truly didn't matter to me that she was trans in the sense of did I love and accept her. Yes, absolutely, without hesitation or question. I had fears for her safety, empathy for how hard, painful, and even dangerous this would be for her, but the love was rock solid. I wanted to be a strong support for her.
At the same time, this was pretty huge and I had this major thing I was going through and no real support or path to go through it. I was going through many things myself at the time. It was a lot to take in. I mourned my son. Which may seem really strange, but that life and what I thought was real and true wasn't. What I thought in terms of the future wasn't going to happen. So I did mourn. And I did it alone. Some of that was by choice, most not. That was part of my process. I got on the internet and did a lot of reading and searching for information and other parents' experiences. Some of it was very useful. Jae, who is a teacher to her bones, was a source of great information. And she came out in stages fairly quickly, so it wasn't that long before I could talk with others.
I did have some hard and fast rules. You could be puzzled, you could ask questions, but you could not disparage my child. That caused some rifts that still exist. I did lose a friend or two over it and some family members are not on board, to say the least. Jae has written about some of that. Most of the family has been very supportive. May not get it, asked questions, but love Jae. 'Cause Jae is Jae. Super kind and smart and funny and cool.