The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.
When Bethany was thirteen she asked me what I thought about bisexuality. I was a bit thrown by the question and answered in a way that I wish more than anything I could take back. I said “If you have a choice in who to love then choosing a same sex partner makes no sense. It just makes your life too difficult so why do it?” I didn’t analyze the “why” of her question too deeply and I certainly didn’t invite a discussion. I believed it would come back up when she was older and I was bit wiser. Well, she didn’t talk to me again about the subject for several years. She suffered with confusion, unhealthy experimentation, loneliness and suicidal thoughts all by herself. I could have made life easier for my child but one flippant answer caused years of pain and an estrangement that I didn’t even know existed.
Fast forward seven years and our daughter sends us a letter informing us that she is bisexual. This was not a surprise because we weren’t totally unaware of her romantic interests and as a novelist she had been writing LGBTQ+ themed books. We expected this formal coming out but weren’t quite ready for what she told us several months later, “I am transgender and am starting the process to become a male. My name is now Seth and I know this will be hard for you so I’ll give you all the time you need to process it”.
We learned that she had been living as Seth for a while. Everyone around her referred to her as Seth including our other three children. The new information was not as shocking as the fact that we were the last to know. Of our three daughters Bethany was the one that hated sports and preferred ballet. She loved writing, art and ethereal creativity. She was head-turningly beautiful and we considered her to be incredibly feminine. In hindsight, I realize that those feminine perceptions were placed by us because of the way she looked. Our perceptions were wrong – we see the world differently now that we have researched gender, sexuality and living authentic lives.
Loving him unconditionally was never a question for us but it hasn’t been a simple light switch either. I’m upset that he doesn’t have the name that we painstakingly chose for him, although calling him Seth has been much easier than calling him HE. I still say “my girls” when I talk and it makes me sad that there are only two, not three of them. BUT this is what I’ve learned… He is still the same person. He is creative, compassionate, insightful, intelligent, irreverent, sarcastic and one heck of a good writer. He is also an exceptional friend who is drawn to those that have suffered and know sadness, abuse and hopelessness. He is a beacon of survival, courage, hope and faith. My pride is immense! His genitals matter very little to me but his heart is everything.
Over a year later, Seth is finishing up his MFA in writing and has a caring FTM boyfriend. Yes, I use a lot of acronyms nowadays. He came home for Christmas and seemed very secure in who he is and what he wants for his future. The confidence was a beautiful thing to witness. The semi colon tattooed on his wrist reminds us all that this is not a trouble-free life. Sadly, our church ended up not being a safe place and we’ve had people attempt to devalue our faith and who our child is within it. It gets ugly, but our family is united and strong. We’ve learned how to love wholeheartedly and we absolutely see God’s eternal love flowing through our family. This isn’t easy but it is real and truthful and we love each other deeply. Our greatest hurdle and fear comes from a world committed to threaten, marginalize and legislate identity and love. Yes, I say LOVE a lot nowadays too.
Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,500 members. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org