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Anonymous Mom: My Child Is Genderqueer

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HAVING A GENDERQUEER CHILD (*Fair warning, the lack of gender pronouns is probably gonna be annoying as shit, I’m used to it. So. – Via the author. )

On May 6th, 2002, I gave birth to a bouncing baby,Skylar, who was born male. My ex-husband and I named our baby Skylar Jaelin, and Skylar was perfect. At around a year, Sky started showing extreme aversions to most things that are considered male.

We thought nothing of it, but it got progressively worse. By age three, Sky wanted nothing to do with anything male. Skylar demanded dresses to wear, Skylar loved skirts and tutus, and Skylar’s favorite superhero was a Disney Princess. My ex husband hated it, he was raised in an über conservative Christian home and had very distinct views on gender roles. I, as an atheist who believed nothing of gender roles, was totally okay with letting Skylar do what Skylar wanted. I have no clue why we even got married.

At age five, Skylar seemed to switch back to the the gender he was born with. Further reinforcing my ex husband’s idea that Sky was confused, and I had wasted time and money entertaining Skylar’s ‘phase’. I didn’t care, but Skylar and I packed up Skylar’s dresses and tutus and ‘girly’ toys and we donated them to a local shelter.

Skylar identified as a boy for a year, and during that year my husband and I got a divorce because of unrelated reasons. At about six and a half, Skylar identified as a female again. I was very supportive of Skylar, but my ex husband wasn’t, he continued calling Skylar “him” and made him wear boy clothes for visits. Skylar began hating going over for visits on weekends.

At age seven and a half, Skylar sat down with me and said. “Mom, I do not want to be a girl or a boy. I just want to be Skylar.”

I was confused. I had no idea what to do. I quickly learned what being genderqueer was and I began to talk to Skylar about it. We did a lot of researching that year, and finally Skylar was confident. Skylar understood who Skylar was. Skylar identified as both male and female, and had never been happier.

Skylar is now 12 years old, Skylar is going into seventh grade in the fall, and Skylar has never been more confident.

Skylar’s dad still isn’t accepting and Skylar is still asked to dress as a male when visiting dad, which only pans out to being two weeks a year because Skylar’s dad now lives in another state with his wife and daughters. Skylar visits with my ex husband on Christmas break, and is okay with it most of the time. Thankfully, Skylar’s bonus mom is an amazing lady, who although is a Christian, supports Skylar. She has a transgender brother and is trying to get my ex-husband to understand so that Skylar will feel more comfortable in their home. Skylar’s sister loves Skylar because Skylar loves dress up and will sit still and have makeup put on. Skylar has admitted to wanting to spend more time with dad, but hates that Skylar can’t be Skylar at dad’s house.

Still, Skylar enjoys living life and has many friends who love and support.

PS. Skylar has given me 100% permission to post this, because even though this is Anonymous Mom, I don’t want to feel like I’m outing Skylar. Also here is a message from Skylar:

“I am not confused, God made me this way, I like who I am.”

(Image:  Kletr/shutterstock)

59 Comments

  1. allisonjayne

    July 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Well, there goes my mascara.

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      July 4, 2014 at 11:18 am

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    • Surfaces

      July 5, 2014 at 7:42 am

      IT’S HAYFEVER, I SWEAR

  2. Melissa

    July 4, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I think it would be difficult for a lot of parents to understand and accept this. Skylar is lucky to have you! As a middle school teacher I know those years are tough for most kids–even ones who fit into traditional gender roles. Are Skylar’s peers accepting of Skylar’s gender identification?

    • Melissa

      July 4, 2014 at 11:28 am

      P.S. after looking at the pictures of babies with guns article, this has restored my faith in humanity, so thank you.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      July 4, 2014 at 11:49 am

      I know, right?!?

  3. pixie Ninja Tits

    July 4, 2014 at 11:17 am

    This is very sweet. Skylar is very lucky to have such a kind and accepting mother as well as an accepting step-mother and sisters. I also love that Skylar has given you permission to post this and that Skylar is so confident in who Skylar is as an individual. Hugs to you and Skylar for being awesome.

  4. Ursi

    July 4, 2014 at 11:20 am

    God bless you for the support you’ve shown your child. Would that every parent were like you. I’m glad Skylar has supportive people in life to ease the path.

  5. julesgilead

    July 4, 2014 at 11:30 am

    It sounds like you and your child are dealing with this extremely well, and I’m hoping your ex sees the light. One of my best friends came out as genderqueer to me about a year ago, and asked me to use they/them pronouns as a gender-neutral option. It was a bit odd to get used to at first because it’s traditionally plural, but it works a lot better than avoiding pronouns at all. You might want to ask Skylar if that sounded appealing.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      July 4, 2014 at 11:52 am

      At one point, using “they” as a gender-neutral singular pronoun was completely grammatically acceptable, and I’ve used it in conversation and non-academic writing for that purpose due to its ease and colloquial familiarity. But there are all kinds of constructions for Skylar to consider if that one doesn’t sound appealing!

    • meteor_Whoricorn_echo

      July 4, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      I also use “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun. It becomes natural to use with time.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      July 4, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      It’s so convenient! Constructions like “s/he”, “he or she”, etc. are unwieldy, and new ones like “xe” aren’t common enough (yet?) that I’d toss it around on casual conversation with people who hadn’t specifically asked me to use it. I’ve never met anyone who relished being referred to as “it”, so I am doing my small part to repurpose the singular “they”!

    • pixie Ninja Tits

      July 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      I’ve always used the singular “they”, so I’m with you on doing my part to reintroduce it!

    • Psych Student

      July 7, 2014 at 7:29 am

      I spent the past year working at an LGBTQQI (lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning, intersex) community mental health center as a therapist and quite a few people use the term “they”. It took a while for me to adjust to using what sounds plural as a singular, but now I use it pretty automatically when I don’t know someone’s pronoun. As twitchy as it makes the English majors of the world, it is nice to have a more common word (as you mentioned, “ze” and “hir” always seem to require explanation) as a gender neutral pronoun that seems to be gaining traction for folks who’d prefer not to use gendered pronouns.

    • allisonjayne

      July 7, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Yes! I’ve been working on using ‘they’ when I’m not sure or I don’t know someone’s preferred pronouns, especially when I’m around my kid.

      It’s a pretty simple retrain-your-brain thing. Some people get all freaked out about it but it’s really not that hard.

    • Psych Student

      July 7, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      I agree, it really isn’t that hard. I find it particularly easy when talking about someone who isn’t present. That is to say, it can be a bit harder to use preferred pronouns for someone you’ve known for a while when they change, but if you’re just talking about whoever, then it can become really natural to just use “they”.

    • allisonjayne

      July 7, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Totally. I had a very good friend transition a few years ago. He had moved away, and I definitely made some slip-ups (when talking about him with mutual friends, not too him directly, thankfully) in the beginning. I found that once I saw him in person again it became a lot easier.

      Nowadays I’m more likely to slip-up the other way – i.e. I forget that he doesn’t actually have dude-parts.

  6. Audrey

    July 4, 2014 at 11:34 am

    So glad you’re an amazing supportive mom! It’s so rare that kids with non-traditional gender identities have that kind of relationship with their parents, and it definitely has an affect on them in later life. I also love that Skylar gave you permission to post this article — that’s just another example of being respectful of your child and their feelings. Good on you! 🙂

  7. CMJ

    July 4, 2014 at 11:44 am

    What an amazing kid and amazingly supportive mom.

  8. momjones

    July 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I wish we had an option to “Love” an article.

  9. NotTakenNotAvailable

    July 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Skylar doesn’t sound confused at all–quite the opposite! Good on both of you, and I hope Skylar’s dad comes around.

  10. Valerie

    July 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

    You are an awesome mother. Truly. Bravo to you and to Skylar. I wish you both the best!

  11. LadyClodia the Modest Rat

    July 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    This awesome! Both you and Skylar sound like amazing and confident people! And I think it’s great that you asked Skylar’s permission for this post.

  12. JessBakesCakes

    July 4, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    What a wonderful parent you are to Skylar, and Skylar is probably very grateful to have you! It’s also so encouraging to know that Skylar is so secure in Skylar’s identity. You both made me smile today! Here’s hoping that more people show support to Skylar like you do!

  13. meteor_Whoricorn_echo

    July 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Dear AnonMon:

    You absolutely rock. A supportive parent is the best gift a child can have. You’re lucky that you have your kid, and the kid is lucky to have you. Give them plenty of hugs and support and love, because this world is tough and hugs are a wonderful thing.
    Sincerely,
    A kid who never had supportive parents.

  14. Maria Guido

    July 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Skylar is lucky and you are a great mom.

  15. jendra_berri

    July 4, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    It’s always so gratifying when children who are different are born to the right parent to guide and support them through it. All kids should be so lucky!

  16. Katherine Handcock

    July 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    I’m so happy to hear you’re supportive of Skylar! You’re lucky to have each other 🙂

    For parents who are curious about this, there’s a great book called “Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender-Nonconforming Children” by Diane Ehrensaft. One of the things I like about it is that it doesn’t assume that gender nonconformity automatically means transgender identity, which leaves lots of room for kids like Skylar who view themselves as both at once, both in alternation, or neither.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      July 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      I love that you always have an appropriate book to recommend!

    • Katherine Handcock

      July 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      Aw, thanks! Actually, researching for the LGBTQ parenting section at A Mighty Girl was really interesting – there are some great books out there about gender research, gender identity, and parenting. They kind of all ended up on my reading list 🙂

    • NorthernGirl

      July 4, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      A Mighty Girl has the best book suggestions!

    • Katherine Handcock

      July 4, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks! I’m really proud to work for the site 🙂

    • Allyson_et_al

      July 5, 2014 at 1:13 am

      Any book recommendations for parents of bi teens? Totally supportive parents, but would like to be better informed.

    • Katherine Handcock

      July 5, 2014 at 5:48 am

      There are relatively few books exclusively about parenting bi children/teens, but two books that incorporate pretty well the whole LGBTQ spectrum: “Coming Around” by Anne Dohrenwend and “Always My Child” by Kevin Jennings. They’re both pretty good, so either would be a good choice.

      Also, for the teen, you might want to check out “Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens” by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke. It’s a very light and fun book that helps define different descriptors (what is gay versus bi versus genderqueer) and also talks about some of the additional situations that arise when you identify as LGBTQ (how to come out if you want to, how to begin dating, and so on.) Both authors identify as queer, and they include some anecdotes of their own experiences as well as some sidebars about LGBTQ history (everything from Sappho to the Stonewall riots). It’s a little out of date since it’s from before the SCOTUS decision, but still very valuable for teens to read.

    • Allyson_et_al

      July 5, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks! I really appreciate the help. I love how awesome the internet can be when it isn’t being awful.

    • Katherine Handcock

      July 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      You’re welcome 🙂 There are some great novels featuring male and female bisexual characters out there, too. If you’re looking for one, just make sure you read the actual content of the one-star reviews. There are some really great ones that get vicious reviews from people who are LGBTQ-phobic or who don’t believe bisexuality exists.

      Shameless plug: A Mighty Girl has an LGBTQ fiction section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/fiction/multicultural-fiction?cat=53. We’re always interested in new potential titles, too, so if you find a good one, send it in through the Contact Us on the website!

  17. Fallopian Twerker Phillips

    July 4, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    This is the very definition of love and support. Go Mom, and go Skylar!

  18. NorthernGirl

    July 4, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    You have done an amazing job of supporting your child. I live the confidence in Skylar’s statement!

  19. Jessie

    July 4, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Dear Anon Mom:
    Thank you. Thank you for being such an awesome mom and understanding that your child is not confused, broken, or has something “wrong” with them. Thank you for providing Skylar with a safe place to grow up and just be Skylar, surrounded by support and love. I’ve identified as female for the majority of my life, but I’ve recently begun to realize that it was only because that’s what I was TOLD to identify as by my parents and society at large. I always felt something was off about that though, and now at 26 and away from the control of my family, I’m finally beginning to realize that I am genderqueer. Unfortunately, while my friends would understand, I do not have an accepting family. I would give anything for a mom and dad who are like you. Skylar is a very lucky kid, and you are an awesome mom. <3

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      July 4, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      Thank you for having the courage to speak so freely.

      I hope your family will someday see you as the open and obviously warm person YOU ARE and not be so caught up with who THEY want you to be.

      You’re an awesome person, and as long as you are comfortable in your own skin, then fair play!

      People fear what they don’t understand and are very quick to say “Nope, wrong” to things they are uneducated about.

      I wish you all the luck in the world and (I hope I am not presumptuous in saying this) all my love and best wishes.

    • Jessie

      July 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Thank you, this warmed my heart and made what’s going to be a rough work night for me feel a lot brighter. <3
      I'm no stranger to people fearing what they don't understand, it's a challenge I've faced since the day I stepped into the Goth world. Stereotyping and fear-based hatred are old enemies of mine, as unfortunate as that is. I hope someday my family can see me for who I am too, but until then, I at least have a wonderful husband and a group of friends who accept and love me no matter what.

      Thank you for your love and well wishes! I think you're an awesome person, too, and I always enjoy speaking with you. ^_^

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      July 5, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      I won’t be so crass as to suggest I understand or know how you feel, but with regards to the Gothic lifestyle, I DO know exactly what you mean.
      Cos apparently a Gothic being can’t smile or have kids, or be a parent, guardian or role model in any way!
      *gasp, the HORRORRRR*
      (You have to scream that last line in a breathless 60’s sexy siren whisper)

    • Jessie

      July 6, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      Oh, NO. NO, we can’t do that! Smiling is STRICTLY verboten, every Real Goth knows that! It costs us some serious Goth Points if we smile, or laugh, or do ANYTHING but wear all black and look hopelessly despondent 24 hours a day. The Secret Goth Cabal (which does not exist) will come and take away our Goth Cards (which also do not exist). And oh LAWDY, keep us away from the children, lest we corrupt their innocent little minds to our twisted and horrific lifestyle, because there has not EVER been a sweet or adorable Baby Bat.

      http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d159/TabooSushi/GIFs/EyeRoll_zps19199eef.gif

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      July 7, 2014 at 10:13 am

      I’m dying here lol you summed it all up perfectly.
      The Cersei GIF just sealed the deal!

    • Jessie

      July 7, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Forget the Seven Kingdoms, she is the Queen of Eyerolling. 😀

    • wmdkitty

      July 5, 2014 at 5:35 am

      It’s taken me until 33 to realize that “neither” was even an option.

    • Jessie

      July 5, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Glad I’m not alone in the “late development” department. I read somewhere that they say most people don’t even fully realize/understand their sexual preferences until around the age of 30, it stands to reason that the same could be possible for gender preferences.

    • Katherine Handcock

      July 5, 2014 at 5:38 am

      I’m sorry to hear that your family isn’t likely to be supportive. I hope that it helps to know that the tide is turning, and increasingly, there are more of us that say, “Hey, you are who you are”!

    • Jessie

      July 5, 2014 at 10:26 am

      It’s okay, really. Those who DO support and love me are enough to make up for my family. My mom might actually come around if she were willing to do some research on it, she has several LGBT friends so she isn’t COMPLETELY intolerant of these sorts of things, she just doesn’t quite believe in the non-binary gender spectrum at this point in time. My father however… Devout Catholic Bible-thumper. I’m afraid he’s a lost cause. But it does help to know that the tides have been turning ever so steadily over the years, and someday it will be okay to just be who you are regardless of what that may mean in terms of gender or sexual preference.

  20. gothicgaelicgirl

    July 4, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    You have an amazing little person who is obviously very comfortable in their own skin.
    And how lucky to have a parent as supportive as you!

  21. wmdkitty

    July 5, 2014 at 5:32 am

    It’s great that Skylar has parents who will just… let them be Skylar.

  22. jenstar

    July 5, 2014 at 11:13 am

    What a lucky child Skylar is to have such a great mum! Skylar sounds just perfect, it’s wonderful to see a child so confident in who they are.

  23. Obladi Oblada

    July 5, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    While my youngest son identifies as male, he loves all things considered feminine: playing with dolls, makeup, nail polish, etc. It’s difficult for him at times because he doesn’t understand why other boys don’t like what he likes. My husband and I support him 100% in his decisions. I applaud your efforts to let your child comfortable in his own skin.

  24. Nocturnesthesia

    July 6, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    I just have to say I love the phrase ‘bonus mom’.

    Thank you for being open-minded. Having supportive family is important and can make all the difference in preventing a child from having severe depression/anxiety issues surrounding their own identity. And, of course, the more happy, well-adjusted genderqueer/trans people there are out there, the easier it will be for others.

    • Psych Student

      July 7, 2014 at 7:33 am

      I loved that so much as well. Bonus mom is the best term – it has the most positive tone to it. And it’s even better that Skylar’s bonus mom is on board and understanding. Such a lucky kid!

  25. Joy Ward

    October 12, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    The problem is that parents identify too many things as male or female instead of being made for your body type… boys don’t wear “girls” dresses because they look silly on them…. BUT they can wear a dress that is MADE for a boy to wear! Yes it can have pink n purple, but it should look appropriate, and distinguished. Anyone can be themselves. Some are more feminine, and others more masculine, but you can’t be the opposite sex… Your son wants to wear a dress than make sure it’s tailored and styled for a man to wear…

    Kids become confused when boys like pink and the dads get defensive, or like barbies… they are just toys… if g.i. joe and barbie had a baby well then you’d have a nice “neutral” toy that would appeal to anyone really and that’s why kids these days are confused…

    I mean we do need to draw the line somewhere… men do NOT wear bras, they don’t wear high heels, clip on pearl earrings… When designers make clothes and accessories they take into account that persons overall appearance. I’m not about to see a dude in a lace frilly romper either… you wanna wear flowers then put them on a button down, not a v neck chiffon dress…

  26. Pingback: Babies and Mothers » 10 Reasons Not To Keep Your Baby’s Gender A Secret

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