Happy Anniversary

Heather called me this week.  When she calls, she always begins with the same question.

“Is now a bad time?” 

What neither of my daughters realize is that there’s never a bad time to hear from them.  Our usual mode of communication is text, so if I am being summoned to speak on the phone or, better yet, communicate via Facetime, it doesn’t matter where I am {or what I’m doing}, I will drop everything and give them my undivided attention because if they have put forth the extra effort of pressing the Call button on their phone, it means they’re going to tell me something really important {or ask for money}!

“Do you know what today is?”

Oh god.  A test.  I wasn’t in the mood for a test.  I was on my way home from the dentist.  The Novocain was starting to wear off and I was beginning to feel slight twinges of pain in my jaw from the crown that was put on and the filling that was replaced.  Let’s see, I thought to myself, I know National Coming Out Day is October 11, so it’s not that.  Transgender Day of Remembrance falls on my late father’s birthday this year, November 20, so it can’t be that.   

“Ummmm, today is October 3,” I said sheepishly.

“Wooow. That’s great Mom.  You know the date.”  I recognized the tone.  She was patronizing me.

She happily followed with, “Two years ago, on this very day, I started hormone replacement therapy,” I could imagine the giant smile I was hearing in her voice, “I set a reminder on my calendar.”

“Ahhh,” I said, “a very important anniversary indeed.”

Abruptly, she ended our call, “Okay.  I’m at my car now.  Gotta go.  Love you. Bye.” Click. 

After she hung up, I felt bad.  It was an important anniversary, and, it wasn’t on my radar. 

We were a year and a half into our journey with Heather when she asked to begin HRT.  Truth be told, my husband and I kept putting the decision off.   She was seventeen at the time and would be eighteen in six months.  Because Heather was a minor, when the discussion came up at the doctor’s office, we were presented with a two-page document that had to be signed and initialed by all three of us before she could begin treatment.  The consent form contained statements like,

“I/we understand irreversible side effects may include permanent changes in physical appearance…”

“I/we understand there is an increased risk of stroke and/or heart attack with the use of …”

Heather was ready to sign that very second. My husband & I weren’t comfortable signing unless we had researched every aspect of HRT.  We left the doctor’s office that day with a very upset child.

We needed more information before we could let her begin HRT.  The problem, however, was there were very few long-term studies on transgender people and the effects of HRT on aging. Three years later, there’s still not very much research. 

In the end, it wasn’t the results of our ‘research’ that caused me to sign the paper.  It was two conversations. 

The first was with Heather’s psychologist.  My husband & I met with her because we weren’t finding satisfactory research on HRT.  We asked, how can we let our child do something that could potentially harm her?  I don’t recall her exact words, but the gist was something like ‘We don’t know what the long-term side effects could be on her health.  We do know Heather will have the opportunity to live as her authentic self.  If her lifespan is cut short, at least she will have lived her life, for however long it may be, as her true self.’  {Wow} My husband and I were so concerned about the negative things that could happen {down that road} that we didn’t stop to think about the positive things that could happen {right now}. 

The second conversation happened the night of our very first PFLAG meeting.  We asked Heather’s psychologist to connect us with a family that was exactly like ours; and she delivered.  I spoke to the woman on the phone and she encouraged us to attend the next monthly PFLAG meeting, which happened to be the following week.  We decided to meet with her before the PFLAG meeting. We shared our journey and explained what a difficult time we were having making the decision to let Heather begin HRT.  The woman, who is now a dear friend, shared her family’s journey with us.  It was uncannily similar.  At the very end of our discussion, she said, “my only regret is that we didn’t let our daughter begin HRT sooner.”  {Wow} This person was in the exact same position as us, shared the same fears we did, and wished she would have let her daughter start HRT sooner

I’m not gonna lie.  Deciding to let Heather begin HRT was one of the most difficult parenting decisions we have ever made. I was full of fear as I initialed the two-page document containing all the possible risks and outcomes.  I was nauseated picking up the estradiol prescription.  Still, my gut told me we were doing the right thing.

And, here we are, as my smiling daughter reminded me, at the two-year anniversary of her beginning HRT; the anniversary of the day my daughter became the happy, confident, beautiful person she is today.  How did I let a day that elicits such euphoria for my daughter become marred by fear, uncertainty, and anxiety?  Why did I allow the anniversary of the day my daughter became her true self to be forgotten? 

As soon as I got home, I pulled out my phone and set a reminder for October 3, 2020.  I’m definitely not going to miss the anniversary of this special day next year, or ever again.

3 thoughts on “Happy Anniversary

  1. What a relief to hear the anxieties and feelings of another parent who’s facing the same journey.
    Thank you for your candid expression of not only how you and your husband felt but also Heather‘s reactions to different scenarios.

    Liked by 1 person

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