Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of lgbtq kids. This series addresses common questions that often get asked by members of the group. For more information about the group visit our website realmamabears.org
Asking if there is a non binary term to use instead of using ma’am or sir is a question that is frequently asked by Mama Bears.
It’s commendable to want to address people respectfully using terms that don’t unnecessarily gender them.
There are people who recommend terms like Xe or Mx, but those terms are not well known and more than likely get a quizzical blank stare from most people if you use them and, therefore, may not be appropriate in many settings.
That means, at this point in time, until those terms enter mainstream usage, the best option is to avoid gendered terms entirely.
Rather than saying “excuse me, ma’am” one can simply say “excuse me” in a polite tone.
When an employee is talking to a customer and wants to be formal, they can do that by adding more deferential wording to their statement: “Pardon me, would you be so kind as to store your belongings in the overhead compartment so the aisle is clear?”
As long as one is polite and cordial this will approach work well in most all cases. However, if the person being addressed feels slighted by not being addressed as “sir” or “ma’am” they’ll likely speak up about it and one will know what to call them. If that happens simply apologize, thank them for sharing how they prefer to be addressed and then use the preferred term going forward.
Sooooo … the short answer is to just not use gendered terms. If someone complains, apologize and use the term they want you to use.
Our daughter Abby came out to us, unexpectedly, at the age of 16, and in that moment, I felt my tidy Christian world begin to unravel. In our Jesus-loving, evangelical-church-going family, this just didn’t seem possible. In the months and years that followed, I learned to make room for many things along the way, including questions that required stretching and expanding my old ways of thinking.
Most pressing on my heart was the dilemma of how to fit Abby’s sexual orientation within the context of my faith. I understood that Abby being gay wasn’t simply a phase or a choice, and I believed God didn’t love her any less because she was gay. But I had concerns about her future that were troublesome and unsettling to me. I wanted her to be happy and healthy, as any mother would, and also to flourish emotionally and spiritually.
Which is why I was saddened, but not surprised, when Abby stopped coming to church with us. My first instinct was to do everything in my power to drag her with us on Sundays—whether she liked it or not—but I could see that after coming out she felt less at home there (as we did too, over time.) She didn’t want to be part of a community where she wasn’t accepted for who she was, and as a result began seeking out a new group of friends, many of whom were also LGBTQ.
At first, I was a little panicky at the thought of Abby hanging out with mostly LGBTQ friends. The idea of a “gay community” was way outside my realm of experience or knowledge and I wanted to know everything I could about the people she spent time with, even the things that seemed silly or random on the surface. Like, why did some of her friends wear androgynous-looking clothes or cut their hair so short? She often rolled her eyes at my naivete, like an adult who finds a child amusing, but I was grateful hearing her perspective.
Underlying our conversations was my irrational fear that Abby would be pulled into relationships and experiences she wasn’t emotionally prepared to navigate. She was young in ways that seemed tender and impressionable. Sure, she had a driver’s license and a part-time job, but she was still balancing on that precarious edge between young woman and older girl—a ripe catch for someone who might influence her negatively. The notion of a gay community, lifestyle, or culture, had always seemed a little dangerous in my imagination, and I feared it would suck her into its clutches.
Mind you, I had almost zero personal experience with actual gay people. I was a product of my times and culture, coming of age in the 80’s in conservative Christian circles. Knowing someone who was gay and out was about as common as knowing someone who had time traveled. Even as a teenager living in the San Francisco Bay Area, my understanding of gay culture was formed mostly from what I saw on TV of the annual Pride parade. No one in my church or friend circles talked openly about gay people. It was all taboo and hush-hush, and made for a lot of speculation, jokes and titillating gossip.
In my twenties I could count on one hand the number of gay people I knew personally. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties and early forties that I had friends who I knew to be gay and out. But old stereotypes from my past persisted, and when my newly-out daughter started spending more time with her LGBTQ friends and less time at church, my instinct was to circle the wagons in order to protect her from the dangers I feared would be awaiting her. I just wasn’t sure what those dangers were, exactly.
My paranoia seems so irrational to me now, but I felt like an outsider in her world. I didn’t know what was true and what was my own imagination. Fear of the unknown fueled my worry. I hated the thought of a chasm growing between my daughter. If I allowed myself to believe that in coming out, my daughter had become something other than the Abby I’d always known and loved, that she had become one of them, I knew I’d lose her. I couldn’t bear the thought of it.
Someone wise once said if you want to build a bridge you have to spend time on both sides you’re trying to connect. Obviously, separating myself from Abby’s growing new community of friends wasn’t going to help me cross my gulf of fear, so I decided to take baby steps toward it instead. As usual those steps were at first awkward and uncomfortable.
While my former conservative-Christian self couldn’t have ever imagined darkening the door of a lesbian bar, that’s exactly what I did one evening when Abby invited me to come and hear her sing at a club. Though not yet 21, she had been performing for a while at some of the local open mic nights. The customers at this particular club happened to be mostly lesbians—I said yes before I could chicken out. I was nervous and about as far out of my element as I could get. I’m sure everything about my sensible outfit and self-conscious demeanor screamed Heterosexual Christian Mom!—but despite my discomfort I actually managed to enjoyed myself.
Sitting at a table with a few of Abby’s friends, I mostly just listened as they laughed and talked about school, work, relationships—the usual stuff. They were sensitive to my newbie status in their world and graciously invited me into the conversation at various points. Gradually, I felt the tension in my body relax as an unexpected realization sunk in: I was among friends. No one acting inappropriately or out of control; just a handful of young women listening to music and having a few drinks with friends.
That evening proved to be a small but profound revelation that opened up my thinking about what an LGBTQ community looked like. As far as I could tell, it was like any group of young people, with the same desire for belonging and companionship you’d expect to see in any community. The more time I spent in those casual settings with Abby and her friends the more I learned to see them as people beyond just a label or category.
It’s difficult to admit that until Abby came out, I didn’t think much about the biases I’d been harboring about gay people since as far back as childhood. I never imagined the LGBTQ community could include kids like mine, from families like ours. Kids who were just trying to figure out their lives, find their path, make their parents proud. I watched Abby’s gay and non-gay friends alike go through similar life experiences: auditioning for their dream gigs, scraping to make ends meet in college, struggling through break-ups, moving away from home, getting their first full-time jobs. The details varied but all of them were just young people trying to make the awkward leap into adulthood the best way they knew how.
The distinctions between “us” and “them” I once thought clearly defined became blurry. I saw that people are far more alike than we are different. One of my favorite lines from Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird is when Scout says, “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”I’ve tried to keep these words close to my heart as Abby has moved in and out of friendships and relationships with people I’ve grown to love. It’s hard to imagine I was once worried about her spending time with these LGBTQ “folks” I’ve sat across tables from, laughed with, cried with, and made room for their stories in my heart. My life is bigger and more beautiful because they are in it.
This story was excerpted from the book “Love Makes Room” by Staci Frenes and shared with the author’s permission. Staci’s book can be purchased here and wherever books are sold.
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 26,000 members. For more info about the Mama Bears organization visit our website at realmamabears.org
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.
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
It’s not uncommon for parents of trans kids to resist accepting their new reality. Parents of trans kids often talk to me about struggling to use their child’s correct pronouns and new names. They often tell me they feel uncomfortable, sad and afraid.
Although their feelings are common and they deserve support, understanding and encouragement I always emphasize that it is vitally important that their trans kids receive enthusiastic support from them IMMEDIATELY!
I always emphasize how vital it is for parents to demonstrate ENTHUSIASTIC support of their trans kids immediately by doing things like using new names and correct pronouns.
In a recent study, researchers found that when transgender youth have parents that enthusiastically support them and use their new name and correct pronouns the youth’s risk of suicide and depression decreases significantly.
I suggest that parents apologize sincerely if they mess up and acknowledge any anger or hurt feelings by saying something like: “I don’t blame you for being angry at me or hurt when I mess up. I’m determined to get this right because it’s important to me too”
An enthusiastic supportive attitude from a parent improves the way trans youth think about themselves, how they cope with their own anxiety and how they cope with all the challenges they face.
It also improves their ability to avoid drug use, addiction, alcohol abuse, irresponsible sexual activity, self harm and suicidal ideation and attempts.
I emphasize these things because I want the best for all parents and their children.
Using correct pronouns and new names can be hard fir some parents, but knowing a child’s well being is at risk can give parents the determination, strength and fortitude to do the right thing no matter how hard it is because that is what parents do.
As parents we love our kids enough to do the right thing even when it’s hard … because nothing is more important than making sure our kids are as healthy and happy and well adjusted as possible! ❤️
Mama Bears is an organization dedicated to supporting, educating and empowering parents of lgbtq kids and the lgbtq community. The organization includes private groups, projects and resources. For more info visit the Mama Bears website realmamabears.org
What would you say if your child told you that he or she were gay?
Let me rephrase that.
What will you say when your child tells you that he or she is gay?
It’s not that unlikely. Current research indicates that approximately 10 percent of the population is gay, lesbian or bisexual. Being gay oneself doesn’t predispose one to have gay kids, any more than being heterosexual means that you will have only heterosexual kids. Most gay kids come from exclusively hetero homes.
My daughter told me she was gay when she was 15. I was surprised, mostly because she’d had all the usual teenage crushes on male movie-star idols. Maybe I should have been tipped off because they were the ones with long, flowing hair and beautiful faces — Orlando Bloom as Legolas in “Lord of the Rings,” for example.
But I was neither horrified nor upset; she’s my daughter and I love her, period. She’s a smart, thoughtful girl, caring and careless, impulsive and cautious, sloppy and precise — in short, a normal and outrageous teenager.
I’m proud of her and can’t wait to see how she does in college, what she’s going to do with her many talents, and who she’ll learn to love. Exactly how she chooses to love that person, or what that person’s gender is, is none of my business and not under my control.
The parent of a gay child can lose that child in many ways. Matthew Shepard, a gay man, was beaten to death by homophobes. That’s the worst way to lose a child.
But parents who reject their child’s sexual orientation will also lose him or her. You don’t have to kick your child out of the house and refuse to see her, to lose her. She doesn’t have to run away from an unloving home or commit suicide (the suicide rate among gay teens is far higher than among straight ones) for you to lose her.
If you react to your child with shock, rage, disappointment, moral judgment or coldness when she tells you she’s gay, she may never bring it up again — but she won’t stop being gay. And she won’t tell you who she loves, or what is in her heart, and eventually she’ll stop telling you what’s real and true in her life.
If she takes your message to heart and hates herself for being gay, she’ll lose herself — and you, too, will have lost her.
I worry that my daughter will be discriminated against in housing, jobs and socially by people who think she’s a freak or strange. I worry that the government that she pays taxes to, that rules the country that she’s a citizen of, will make more laws that restrict her rights — or will fail to make laws that protect her. I fear that bigotry and ignorance will warp her life and take her away from me. If these things sent her only to Canada, where civilization seems to be more advanced than it is in this country, I would be grateful. I’d often be able to visit her there.
No matter where my daughter ends up, she’ll know that I love her, and have always loved her, for who she is — and that who she loves is part of her and I love that, too. With all the other fears I have for her, I don’t worry that I will lose her heart. I have hers and she has mine.
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 18,000 members. For more info about the Mama Bears visit our website at realmamabears.org
As a child I never understood prejudice. I could never figure out why the way someone looked or who they loved, and not whether or not they were a massive ass-hat was the reason people would choose to discriminate against someone. It didn’t become any clearer to me as I grew up and when I had kids of my own I made sure to raise them as open-minded, always-kind individuals that would judge someone on their personality more than anything else. Instead of referring to someone by their skin color, disability, sexuality, religion, etc. I would always make sure – when pointing someone out to my kids – to use another way for them to know who I was talking about. ‘That tall man with the red shirt’, ‘the lady by the check out with the very pretty head scarf’, etc. I would also make sure to downplay anything ‘gay’ the kids saw so they would consider it normal. Like seeing same-sex couples kissing on a show or seeing a trans person walking around. When they would ask me about it, I would make sure to put a complimentary spin on it, “Look how in love they are, isn’t that sweet?’, ‘I can never walk in heels as well as they can!’ I felt like doing small things like that would help my kids to think of people as people and not tied to anything that could be discriminating. I think it worked!
When my daughter, Marina, was 9 she came out to me in the middle of a conversation like it was nothing at all. My very first thought was, “How do you know? You’re only 9.” But when she quickly answered with a simple, “Because I have crushes on girls, not boys.” I knew she knew and was going to be just fine. I cried a lot, but in a good way. I felt so proud of her and so honored that she felt comfortable enough with me to tell me like it was no big deal. I told her that this was her thing, and I wouldn’t go around and tell people unless she wanted me to. I encouraged her to tell my husband (her stepdad since she was 5) but let her know that she didn’t have to if she wasn’t ready. She assured me it was fine and we all (Marina, her 13-year old brother, my husband, and myself) sat down for her to talk. Her brother, Logan, wasn’t really paying attention. He was playing on his DS, but that was fine. Marina bravely told my husband that she was gay while I held her hand. My husband said, “Oh. Well I’m glad you know that about yourself. We all still love you. You know that, right?”
Afterwards, since Logan hadn’t really responded to any of it, I pulled him aside and asked him if he understood what that had all meant. “Sure,” he said shrugging, “she wants to date girls. She’s gay, mom. So what? I’ve known for years.” Then he went back to his game and walked off to his room.
I don’t think I have ever been so happy and proud of the results of my mothering than I was that day. Not only did I make my daughter feel safe and secure enough to know herself and want to tell me like she did, but my son accepted it like Marina had said any normal thing. The only thing that bothers me about any of this is knowing that not everyone was raised to be as open-minded and kind to others’ differences. There are still family members Marina doesn’t want to tell yet and I reassure her that it is all entirely up to her and I will support her in any way I possibly can. Always.
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 16,000 members. For more info about the Mama Bears visit our website at realmamabears.org
Registration for the third annual MAMA BEAR HOLIDAY HUGS is open.
Submissions must be received by 12/15/2020.
MAMA BEAR HOLIDAY HUGS is hosted by MAMA BEARS, an organization dedicated to supporting, educating and empowering parents of LGBTQ+ kids and the LGBTQ+ community.
The Holiday Season can be an especially lonely and stressful time for many LGBTQ+ people who have lost support due to their LGBTQ+ status. Members of MAMA BEARS are available to send Holiday messages of love, hope and affirmation to LGBTQ+ people during the Holiday Season.
LGBTQ+ people, or those who love and support them, can fill out the registration form to request a MAMA BEAR HOLIDAY HUGS message of love, hope & affirmation.
Information submitted will be shared with members of the Mama Bears private Facebook group.
“True Faith Doesn’t Bully” is a letter-writing campaign sponsored by the Tyler Clementi Foundation. The purpose of the campaign is to educate Pastors of the Southern Baptist Church denomination about the pain and harm of teaching young people that they are broken, less than, or separated from God, because of who God created them to be or who God created them to love.
Here is the letter I wrote for the campaign:
My name is Liz Dyer and I am writing to you in partnership with the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s “True Faith Doesn’t Bully” Campaign.
I am a Christian wife and mother, and one of my sons is gay.
I am also the founder of the Mama Bears Organization which is dedicated to supporting mothers of LGBTQ kids. Read More
In June 2014 I started a private Facebook group with less than 200 Christian mothers of LGBTQ kids and today there are more than 12,000 mothers of LGBTQ kids in the group.
As someone who comes from a conservative Christian background and was a lifelong member of Southern Baptist Churches I wanted to connect with other mothers like myself and let them know they are not alone and they do not have to give up their Christian faith in order to love, support and affirm their LGBTQ children.
Many moms in the group come from a conservative Christian background similar to my own. Many of them arrive in the group barely hanging on to their faith with a fair amount of anger towards Christians, Christian leaders and the church in general because of the way they and their LGBTQ children have been treated.
Many end up walking away from their local church because of the shame-based, dehumanizing messages they often hear when homosexuality comes up in a sermon, bible lesson or conversation at their church. Many leave their local church because the message they hear from their church is that LGBTQ people have rejected God and have an agenda to destroy the family and the church. These moms know that is not who their children are and they love their kids too much to allow them to believe they are less than other people and broken because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Over and over again I hear from these moms telling me the online community I created is like a church to them because it provides the kind of community, care and support they expected to find at their church, but didn’t receive once their kid came out.
I’m happy to have created a safe and supportive community for these moms, but I’m extremely sad and disappointed they couldn’t find this kind of community and support in their own churches. And that is why I am so happy to have this opportunity to write a few words to you today on behalf of myself and other mother’s like myself.
In spite of everything we have experienced we remain hopeful that people like you will hear our voice, listen to our stories, and pay attention to what we have been learning.
We remain hopeful that one day you will be for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people, because we long for our children to live in a world where we don’t have to worry about the local church treating them like a second class citizen and teaching them to be ashamed of the way they were created.
As Christian mothers who affirm their LGBTQ kids we are often accused of turning our backs on God or throwing out the Bible, but nothing could be further from the truth. As loving mothers we would never offer important life altering spiritual advice to our kids without great thought, study and prayer. In fact, I would argue that Christian mothers of LGBTQ kids study, listen and pray more than anyone as we strive to discern the truth about these matters.
Of course, we are aware that people are prone to understand scripture in a way that supports their own position, but rather than argue the meaning of a few verses in the bible we think the most important thing is to examine the fruit being produced in the lives of those who embrace certain beliefs and doctrines.
In other words, we believe good theology must pass the test of producing good fruit in the lives of those who embrace it.
We believe if a theology is mostly producing bad fruit it isn’t the truth and should be abandoned.
When you listen to us and get to know us you will learn what we have learned … that LGBTQ people in general are being severely harmed by non-affirming theology and that LGBTQ people in general are more healthy and whole in every way when they believe and embrace affirming theology.
Over and over again we witness non affirming theology producing bad fruit in the life of those who embrace it.
However, those same LGBTQ people typically become more healthy and whole, in every way, when they embrace affirming theology – especially if they are also connected to an affirming Christian community.
We know that scripture does not address most things specifically. Instead it gives us some guiding principles to live by and we are charged with learning to apply those guiding principles to our own lives. We believe when we get it right it mostly leads to whole, healthy, hopeful lives and when we get it wrong it mostly leads to broken, unhealthy, hopeless lives.
We believe if a doctrine is mostly producing self-loathing, despair, hopelessness, depression, isolation, shame, self-harm and other such bad fruit then it’s a no brainer … it’s not good doctrine and it should be abandoned because the fruit doesn’t lie.
Therefore, we implore you to embrace theology that produces good fruit and is life giving.
Too many lives – both spiritual and physical lives – are hanging in the balance.
Too much damage has already been done and too much unnecessary suffering has been endured due to non-affirming theology.
At one time you could say you embraced non affirming theology because you didn’t know about the harm being done, but with so many LGBTQ people coming out and sharing their story; and with all the knowledge we have gained about sexuality and gender, there is no longer an excuse to hang on to theology that is obviously flawed and harmful.
We know better now and because we know better we can relieve suffering and save lives. I am doing my part, but I need you to do your part.
Please use your power and influence for good and lift up theology that produces life instead of death.
This is an urgent matter – there is no time to spare.
Now is the time for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the church.
If you want to write a letter for the “True Faith Doesn’t Bully” campaign and share how non affirming religious messages have harmed you and your family please send your letter to email@example.com
Here is a helpful list of non-binary terms. Many of these terms were gathered by crowdsourcing LGBTQ people. Of course this isn’t a comprehensive list. If you have suggestions, know of other terms or have requests let us know in the comments.
They / Them / Themselves
Ze / Zir / Zirself
Xe / Xem / Xyrself
Thon / Thons / Thonself
Fae / Faer / Faerself
Per (short for parent)
Par (short for parent)
Ren/Renny (derived from parent)
Dommy (mixture of mommy and daddy)
Maddy (mixture of mommy and daddy)
Mapa / Pama (mixture of mama and papa)
Muddy (mixture of mummy and daddy)
Moddy (mixture of mummy and daddy)
Zither (zither is also the name of a musical instrument.)
Baba (baba means dad in some languages and grandmother in others.)
Cennend (Old English Anglo-Saxon meaning parent)
Cenn (short for cennend)
Cousin – as sometimes people say aunt/uncle for parents’ cousins, or much older cousins.
Titi – from Spanish for Aunt (Tia) & Uncle (Tio)
Zizi – from Italian for Aunt (Zia) & Uncle (Zio). (zizi is also a French children’s ‘cute’ word for penis.)
Cousin – as sometimes people say aunt/uncle for parents’ cousins, or much older cousins.
Girlfriend/Boyfriend (non-serious relationship)
S.O. (short for Significant Other)
Epox (French ‘époux’ which means husband/spouse)
Imzadi (from Star Trek, a Betazed word similar to beloved)
S.O. (short for Significant Other)
Epox (from French ‘époux’ which means husband/spouse)
Imzadi (from Star Trek, a Betazed word similar to beloved)
S.O. (short for Significant Other)
Epox (from French ‘époux’ which means husband/spouse)
Imzadi (from Star Trek, a Betazed word similar to beloved)
Mx. (pronounced Mix)
Misc or Misk (derived from the Latin word miscellus, meaning “mixed)
Msr (mixture of Ms. and Mr.)
Ind. (short for Individual)
Tiz (short for citizen)
Good Morning/Good Afternoon – a good way to start formal emails instead of Dear
Quing (mix of King and Queen)
Caln (created word based on the K/Q sound of King and Queen)
Postie or Postal Worker
Meteorologist or Weather Person
Administrative Assistant (instead of secretary)
Hi, my name is Wendy Swanson and I am the Mom of a transgender son, queer daughter and a cis/straight daughter. I believe the most important message I want to send out is that God does NOT make mistakes and he made these kids perfect in His eyes – therefore it is our job to love unconditionally! My Momma Bear project story is about our son today.
Our son has known since he was about four or five that he was a boy. I remember the first time he wanted us to call him Clayton. It’s funny how clear this day is to me. We were on Kelly’s Island playing put-put golf and he said, “Mom, I am Clayton this week on vacation OK? I will NOT answer to anything but that name this week.” My husband and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and said, “Ok Clayton your up. Hit the ball!”
The interesting thing is our child was born with an extra X chromosome, and all the doctors said nothing but ultra feminine traits would be presented by individuals born this way. Boy, were they WRONG!! From the second this child could play and dress himself it has been ALL BOY!!
What I am about to tell you next about Oliver is something very dear to my heart. He chose his beautiful name, Oliver Mayne, with the help from his grandpa whom we call Poppops. This is something that brought the both of them so much joy. This is something I would encourage all Moms to do, to be as enthusiastic and involved in the process as possible. And listen, please listen to them. This is not something we did all the way through unfortunately. When he was younger we let him go bare chested with his boy trunks, and because of what the Dr’s told us about the XXX, we just thought he was beating to his own drum. It was when he hit puberty that we feel we went wrong and very well could have lost our child. We brushed the “Tom boy,” under the rug and shopped at more expensive stores in hopes to make our child “like” girl clothes more. (I’m cringing as I write this) This is where things started to go south. He would come home from school and sleep. His grades and attitude were horrible. He started sneaking out and not telling the truth as to where he was. This was surely a cry out for help!
I remember one night specifically where I realized we had so clearly missed ALL of it. I saw a cross that he had cut into his own skin on his forehead. A few weeks later, he snuck out of the house and we could not find him anywhere. He came home the next morning and came to me in my room. We held each other and I begged him to tell me what was happening.
This was the day he told me that he could not live another day without being his true self, and I didn’t let go of him. I told him that we love him and that we would figure this out together. We stayed in my room that day, ate a lot of comfort food and educated ourselves with movie’s and videos on transgender persons. We held each other, cried, laughed, and knew we had a journey ahead of us. We knew, however, that together we could do it!
We are so blessed with the love and acceptance he received as he came out, but there are always naysayers. This made me second guess myself greatly as a Christian Mom. We moved for the duration of his high school career, and rented a home near an all affirming school to allow him to just be who he is. It has been a WONDERFUL period of growth for him.
One night during dinner, I asked Oliver when it was that he first knew he was a boy. “Oh, that’s easy Mom,” he said. “It was when I was four or five and all I wanted to do was play with my Teenage Mutant
Turtles.” I giggled a bit and asked curiously, “Did you ever feel like a girl?” He replied, “Well, I know you shopped at stores for me that you didn’t take Jess and Case to – and I would try to like the clothes, but it just never felt right wearing them.” The last thing I said to him, and mind you he was silly and happy the whole time before this last question: ”If we didn’t support you with this transition,” and before I could look up at him I could hear him sobbing with huge tears rolling down his face. He said, “Mom, I would be dead.” I grabbed him so fast, held him in my arms and told him I allowed someone to make me feel like a bad Mom, and that I would never do that again. I’ve never second guessed myself since then.
I share this very personal experience with you in hopes that people gain insight. It is a journey for not only Oliver, but our entire family, friends and loved ones – a beautiful journey at that! Be encouraged and KNOW that all will be alright. And most importantly, not only are you loved by us, but by God as well!
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
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 12,000 members. For more info about the Mama Bears visit our website at realmamabears.org