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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

A Mama Bear Moment …

A couple of summers ago something miraculous happened. I saw my son smile and laugh again. He wanted to do things with me and my daughter again—he sat for family meals with me and asked to go grab ice cream. That summer, he asked me if I would take a day off work and go to campus with him and have lunch and just hang out and talk. I almost cried. Well, honestly, I cried tears of joy, but I waited until he wasn’t around because I wasn’t sure he would know for sure that they were “happy tears.”

When he was a child, he had started asking me questions about why he had to put a shirt on at the beach. I didn’t think anything about it, and I just said, “Because you do.” As he grew, he became increasingly rebellious and anxious and withdrawn. Soon, he was showing signs of deep depression, and we weren’t close at all. I couldn’t reach him anymore. What I didn’t know was how deeply he was hurting inside. His soul was tearing apart because he loved me enough to not want to hurt me. See, I’m a single Mom of two kids, and for years I called us “the Pepple girls.” I signed Christmas cards that way. I even had a frame that said it. That’s how everyone knew us—we were the three Pepple girls.

But, you see, my son was just assigned the gender of female at birth. He wasn’t really “my girl.” I didn’t know enough about gender to question anything. I looked at the outside and assumed it matched what was on the inside. How wrong I was! When he finally found the courage to tell me, it was an answer to prayers because I knew then that we could stand together and search for a way forward. Nothing instantly changed, of course, because neither of us knew anything about how to help him become the person he knew he was born to be. I was part of the problem, because I had to learn about depression and teens and gender and lots of things. But I was willing to learn and correct my previous parenting mistakes and seek resources.

I saw an affirming pastor make a Facebook post to another person who had commented on her page. She offered to send him resources to back up a point she was making. about the LGBTQ+ community. I truly didn’t even read the original post, but instead immediately messaged her and asked if she could send me resources. She asked me what type of information I was looking for, so I decided to be honest and just say out loud for the first time that I had a transgender child who just shared the news with me and didn’t know how to move forward. That’s when I found the Mama Bears! What a blessing. And he found a counselor and an endocrinologist that have guided us so well.

I still had a lot to learn. I had to find the words to tell family and friends. And I had to learn to let go. I let go of people who were unwilling to listen and learn along with us—people who just blindly judged and were negative. But for every person who walked out of our lives, three more walked in. For every tear, we were given laughter also. For events we were excluded from, new friends opened doors for new events. Now we walk in Pride events…I meet up with Mama Bears…he has a queer youth theatre group…we found a new church.

I still worry for his safety because so many people carry so much hate towards people who are transgender. But I have so much fun being the Pepple People now. My daughter is so affirming, and some of our family members are. The others are missing out on the blessing of knowing my son. I’ve learned how to love deeper and speak louder about that love. I’ve learned how to listen and how to open my life up to new experiences and new people. I hope I never stop learning…and I know I’ll never stop loving both of my children who are growing into the people they were created to be.

Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears 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 25,000 members. For more info about the Mama Bears visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.