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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.

Jamie Parnell


Transgender. Transition. Transformation. Transparent. Transcend.

These are some of the words that come to mind when I think about the past 18 months of my life since my oldest child came out of the closet as transgender {female to male}. He was fifteen, at the time, and living as Kate, the daughter I had given birth to and loved with all my heart.

In that conversation, he told me he had never felt like a girl and that he couldn’t keep on trying to be someone he wasn’t. I listened to his story, told him I loved him more than anything in this world, and how honored I was that he had trusted me with such a deep and personal truth. And when he asked if I was surprised, I said no. You see, at age two, he had told me he wanted to be a boy, and at age six he told me he wasn’t my daughter…he was my son. So I had an inkling that this was a possibility, if not a probability. We had many more conversations in the weeks following his disclosure, and as a family, came up with a plan for Kate {she/her} to transition to Kaden {he/him}.

My emotions were all over the place. I felt deep sorrow that my child had walked this earth in silence, unable to express his true identity for fear of rejection from his family, especially from his dad and I. I felt grief for a loss that I couldn’t quite define. After all, I still had my child, but I was trading what I knew…a daughter, even as unhappy, and in pain as she was, for someone and some life I couldn’t see, understand, or feel yet. The temptation to run away and hide was unbelievable. I felt moments of gut wrenching pain and wondered if I would ever feel joy again. I was scared for Kaden’s future and all of ours, too. I was scared that he would be the victim of violence or experience horrible pain from surgeries or loss of relationships. I was scared that my younger kids would suffer, as well. I was also scared that we would lose our family, friends and church. That being said, I was convinced that allowing our child to be his authentic self was the only right decision to make, no matter the consequences to the rest of us. I knew this choice was a matter of life and death as the suicide rate for transgender youth is alarmingly high. There were a few moments, however, when I considered resisting his transition, but a darkness I cannot describe, would come over me and I would feel immense pain which would only resolve when I let go of the fight to keep Kate. I now realize that those dark moments were when I was stuck in my head, trying to logic it all away. When I would check in with my heart, feel the unconditional love I had for my baby, and shut down my fear based thoughts, everything became clear. Welcoming Kaden was our only choice.

Those first few weeks after the haircut and the beginning of Kaden’s social transition, in December 2016, were difficult, to say the least. Everything felt new and unfamiliar. I wasn’t used to Kaden. I struggled with his name and pronouns and I did not yet recognize this person living in my home. That first week of school, as Kaden, was so hard on him and yet he told me EVERY SINGLE DAY, that as painful as it was {being talked about, being told he was an abomination to God, being rejected by some of his bible study friends, etc.}, it was far easier than living a lie {pretending to be ok, so that everyone else could feel ok.}. There are some things in life that you just can’t wrap your head around, so you must use your heart instead. That was, and continues to be, a huge lesson I was learning more and more each day. I had to trust that God had us in His capable hands and that He would get us through….though I had my moments of doubt. Thankfully, Kaden only had to endure one week of school before Christmas break, which was a huge blessing and absolutely part of God’s amazing timing. The break gave us all some time to get acquainted and adjusted to this massive change in our lives. I still did not see the light at the end of the tunnel, and just came to accept that our path would be illuminated bit by bit, and the best thing I could do for myself and my family, was to stay in the present moment. I wasn’t to know what our future held, so I needed to let go.

After a few months, I began to feel a distinct change within our family. We went from living with a kid who hated himself and resented having to play a role, to having one who lived authentically and free. He was no longer angry that his brother had the life he always wanted and no longer hated being grouped with a sister he didn’t relate to. He was so much happier and his relationships with Cameron and Claire changed dramatically. He was patient, kind, and gentler with his words than he had ever been before. He also had empathy for the challenges and pain they were experiencing with his transition. And they responded to this new dynamic with acceptance and love. It was so beautiful. I remember being on a road trip with the three of them, in April 2017, and was blown away at how well they got along together and truly enjoyed one another’s presence. I told Scott then that I wouldn’t go back to the way it was, even if I could.

Our life since Kaden began his transition has been excruciating and extraordinary, both of which I will continue to share about on my blog. Much of my writing will be about Kaden, but I’ll also share about my own transformation through this journey of supporting and unconditionally loving my transgender child. I hope you’ll join me.


Jamie Parnell is a member of Serendipitydodah for Moms who also blogs at My Life in Trans


Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 3,700 members. For more info about the private facebook group email lizdyer55@gmail.com