By Lisa J. Keating
Eleven years ago our child was born, labeled and celebrated. At that time we gave that child a name and the label of male that would deeply impact our family in ways unimaginable. Those labels fit within what we understood to be true then. Today that same child is labeled and continues to be celebrated. The difference is that she chose the label, the pronouns she/her, and the name Stella.
I’ve read countless stories of families with transgender children describing a rebirth of their child after transition. Each one is a creative, beautiful expression of unconditional love. For us, Stella hasn’t gone through a rebirth. The child we are raising today is the very same person prior to her transition. The definition of transition is “make or undergo from one state or system to another.” Each breath we take is a transition to another state of being. Our family has simply transitioned to a new state of being.
Eleven years ago October 22nd is the day our family came to life. Family is a continuum of daily acts of love, compassion, vulnerability, strength, respect and honesty. Some days we are better at it than others. Our triad admits mistakes and is willing to make them. Our conversations are authentic, messy, awkward, frustrating, enlightening and forgiving. We have an open swearing policy in our house because some times cursing is the best medicine. When a doctor asked my 82 year old great-grandmother what she did for stress she replied, “I cuss!” I am continuing that family tradition with Stella.
Recently Stella brought home a school project the class did while celebrating careers and college. On it she wrote when she grows up she wants to be an artist or song writer. I paused and dreamed about how her art would impact the world. How her voice will evolve and be shaped as she transition into adolescence? I thought of all the other transgender children I read about in various parent support groups. What will this entire generation of transgender youth create? Thousands of stories that will reframe everything we think we know and understand about identity. That’s a very beautiful and hopeful future.
Our daughter is different from other daughters. It embraces differences because through them I get to see the world in a way I never had before. The label of transgender gives Stella permission to be authentic. It deepens the bonds within our family, allows us to be united. Hope and joy are benefits we get to experience from changing labels. On this anniversary of the birth of our family, I am celebrating new labels, differences and the countless lessons Stella embodies.