This weekend I will be attending my 4th Gender Spectrum Conference. I’m coming this year in a very different place than I was 4 years ago.
I attended my first Gender Spectrum conference about as uninformed as one can be! I didn’t even know there was a spectrum when it came to gender. I had a lot to learn and I was there for that purpose. I don’t have a transgender or gender expressive child. Never did. But I knew if I was going to work with parents of LGBTQ kids, I needed to learn as much as I could. I don’t remember how I found out about Gender Spectrum but I’m so glad I did.
I attended the most basic of workshops and soaked up the information. It was all new and fascinating. A highlight for me was a workshop for parents where we sat in a circle and just shared about what keeps us up at night. Several of the moms wondered if their child’s gender identity was their fault somehow. Maybe, they thought, it was what they ate during pregnancy or something that happened to them during their pregnancy.
I was transported back to learning my son was gay. I also wondered if it was my fault. I knew intellectually it wasn’t my fault (or a “fault” at all) but I wasn’t so sure emotionally. I thought maybe it had to do with his falling off the changing table onto a linoleum floor when he was 3 months old. Or maybe it was because he and I were too close. When the moms at that workshop questioned whether something happened when they were pregnant, I remembered all the stress I was under when I was pregnant with him. I had to move back to my parents and lost everything material I had except my clothes. My husband at the time was a drug addict. It was not an easy time. Could that be why?
What I realized listening to those moms was that I had buried those fears for all the years since he came out. Burying them didn’t make them go away. I was in denial and listening to those moms willingly share their fears and concerns freed me.
Over these last 3 conferences I have continued to learn. And I learn so much from the moms in my Facebook groups who share their hearts. I can’t speak from personal experience about what it is like to parent a transgender child but I can share what I have learned from Gender Spectrum and the amazing moms I’ve met along the way.