Haley was about 18 months old when I realized something was different. She was always a tomboy, since before she could talk. Loved balls, trucks, and would protest a dress the moment she knew what one was. I was thrilled, because I love tomboys and think it’s great! Get dirty! At 18 months old, Haley would wrap a hand towel around her waist and shave with her father every morning. She would do her aftershave and a spray of cologne. This was her at 18 months old.
At 2, when she started wearing only the clothes she would come home from the neighbour boy’s house in, I started to really get more concerned. She would only pick her blue shirts, and became very fond of all things “boy”. She was talking perfectly by 2, and when told she was a girl, would correct you. “No, I’m a boy.”
Around age 3, I couldn’t take her only wearing junky neighbours clothes, and things that were left by her little boy friends, because she looked completely homeless, and only would wear 2 shirts. So I told her, if I let you go in the boys section, will you at least wear clean clothes? That day was a turning point for her emotionally. She literally became free.
At age three I spoke to my first child therapist, who was a Christian woman from my church. God bless her, but she was so terribly wrong. She asked if Haley had ever heard me saying I wanted a boy, instead of a girl. Oh the guilt I felt! YES!!!! I always said that I had wished for a boy. I felt like an enormous failure as a parent. Our plan of action was every single night, as we were saying our prayers, to make sure I thanked God, for my perfect daughter. And I did. I was grateful for my perfect daughter! This had a good outcome, and a bad. The good, was it opened our doors for talking about it, the bad outcome, is that it put a lot more pressure on her that what she is feeling, is wrong. Haley told me many times that God had made a mistake when creating her, and that He was going to make her a boy, but changed his mind at the last minute.
Within 6 months, I knew this approach wasn’t working. Haley was even more insistent that she was in fact a boy. Every haircut she would scream “CUT IT OFF!!! CUT IT OFF!!!!” She got me down to a very short bob.
Around age 4, Haley was in my closet with me as I was dressing. She was sitting on the floor when she burst into tears. “I NEVER want breasts.” She said. “They are disgusting.” She was hysterical. “Please mom don’t ever let me get breasts.” I could feel her pain. A fear of your body changing into something that you know it’s not supposed to be. I was devastated.
I very quickly found another child psychologist, just one out of the phone book. I didn’t know there was a name for this, or had ever met a child like this. Where do I go? I knew it was strange when the counsellor didn’t even want to see Haley, just us. My first question was “Have you ever met a kid like this?” When her answer was “no,” I knew we were not in the right spot. Traumatically, she proceeded to tell me Haley was delusional, and we were feeding into her fantasies. She basically just told us what terrible parents we were for allowing any masculine behaviour and basically told to “just fix it.” I went home in tears, that no one was listening, and that I was more alone then I could ever imagine with this. My husband drove home, and I was curled on the floor of the car bawling.
Age 5. I turned on the T.V to a documentary called “Aged 8 and wanting a sex change.” Oh, my God. THIS, is my child. The stories were all the same. The children disgusted with their bodies, and that God had made a mistake creating them. That they were terrified of puberty, and knew that they were meant to be the opposite sex. A name. That’s it. Children like my child! Over the next 2 weeks I spent over 100 hours researching gender disorders. I stumbled on a support group for parents of children with gender disorders. At first I was told “Congratulations you have a boy!” To be honest, that was not what I really needed to hear either. It’s a lot to take in! However, meeting other families, I was given hope. A doctor! I was given a name, and found that the leading endocrinologist in Australia was in fact in my town! I met him. Within 5 minutes, a diagnosis. Haley has Gender Identity Disorder. An answer.
“Haley, if I brought you to the pet store and let you buy 10 puppies, no longer have a bed time, and let you eat ice cream every night for dinner, buy you any toys you want, OR, make you a boy?” “Boy.” Before I finished the question; Boy.
After seeing a great doctor regularly, and feeling it out through trial and error (not so much error when you just listen to your kid) we have now transitioned Haley to using male pronouns. This decision was made after Haley became more distressed with his body. He really just told us “I don’t belong in the girl’s bathroom.” So we met with the school principal who amazingly took us in with open arms. He set up a protocol for issues with bullying, parent questions, teacher questions etc. We put a plan in action to let Haley be Haley. After school break Haley came back to school as “he.” I would like to say there was some huge disruption, or controversy. I was expecting parents at the door with pitch forks and torches. What we got was compassion and love. Haley’s friends were less confused now, as they didn’t like calling Haley a girl. Haley never looked feminine, so this was actually easier for them. Kids at BMX were the same. I was expecting hate, and got acceptance. I know that is not the norm for most of these kids, but I would love to be some inspiration as to how it can and SHOULD be.
So what do I do with Haley now? Nothing. I let him discover who he is, like any other 6 year old. With love, support, encouragement, and acceptance. I let him thrive as he is, because forcing a child to be anything they believe they are not, will kill them. Literally. I listen to my kid, and have learned to live day by day. Take it as it comes, and ask for help when I need it. I will be the first to tell you, I don’t know what I’m doing, I just listen, ask, learn, and move forward.
I think the transition was hardest for me initially. I never wanted this for my kid. It’s scary what the world could do to my child. However, this is so incredibly normal now. About 2 weeks after the transition I said “what on earth was I waiting for?” I will always say it wasn’t a transition for Haley, it was a transition for us. Haley is the only one who hasn’t changed.
Glad you made it here! I hope others can find answers and strength through other families as I did, and support these amazing brave kids together!