Lesley

Mother of trans son. Ethnicity: White English.

She describes her trans son’s journey as a rollercoaster It all started when he was about five years old and would tell teachers and friends that he wanted to be a boy. He was not necessarily articulating that he wanted to transition and once he had a shorter haircut he was happy being referred to by his dead name and old pronouns, but was also adamant that when he grew up he would be a boy. It was when he turned about thirteen he officially came out as trans and from here on Lesley did everything she could to support him. The most challenging part her son’s journey was the waiting times for gender identity services and the bullying from other school children.

When Lesley’s son was about five years old and started to express that he wanted to be a boy, Lesley decided that she would cut his hair short into a bob. This seemed to settle her son’s gender dysphoria as he had no desire to be called anything other than his dead name and old pronouns for about three or four years. Even when he went shopping, he would choose more stereotypical female clothing. It was not until he was about thirteen years old that he formally came out as trans to Lesley and started to present as male.

Lesley explains that she was not surprised that her son was trans due to his past expressions of wanting to be a boy. Even though she was slightly hesitant about making any drastic changes, she took him to the barbers to get a male haircut. She says the difference it made to her son’s mental health was outstanding, she could see how important passing was to him and from here on did anything she could to support him.

The process of getting any medical support has been very long and tiring and has had consequences for her son’s mental health. Her son had to wait for twenty months from his first GP appointment to be seen by the gender identity services. Lesley also says that the stigma and judgement that her family has faced from other people and the media due to the decisions they have made have been extremely hard to navigate. This has been especially hard in relation to some family members who have not been able to understand what being trans means. When asked what support she has sought to get herself and her son through these challenges, Lesley says that online support networks have been extremely helpful. She also says that her role as parent has been important to her son, in that she has always tried to reaffirm his gender identity and not question it.

Lesley explains that her son has had to move school a few times because he has been subject to a lot of transphobic bullying. She explains that his current school is great. Sometimes science lessons can be quite hard for her son to get through, however, as when they discuss reproductive systems it comes across in a very gendered way that makes him feel uncomfortable and there is no mentions of trans people or bodies that are not gendered in non-normative way.

Lesley expresses that the whole societal system is marginalising due to the lack of role models. She says that in her son’s case it has been extremely important to connect and see adults who look like him and have been through social and medical transition and she can imagine that would be the same for other trans children. She also explains that currently the medical system, including gender identity services, do not consider the backgrounds that people come from which can come off as patronising.

Lesley advises parents of trans children to seek the support of their family if it is there as the transition process can be quiet lonely and isolating. Something that was really helpful for Lesley was getting in touch with other parents of trans children as they could share their experiences. Lesley says having that person who can say I kno was incredibly helpful and made her feel not alone. She implores the government and people working in gender identity services to find some way to cut down on waiting lists as this is something that has really impacted her son’s as well as other trans children’s mental health.

Lesley spoke about the importance of connecting to other parents of trans children.

Lesley talks about the support of her friends.

Lesley talks about finding a broad range of information on trans issues.

Lesley talked about her son being misgendered by his grandparents and the support she gets from her friends.

Lesley talked about how it is important to acknowledge that it is okay to feel sad, bereaved, or angry.

Lesley praised her son’s current school and said the school let her son lead on things such as what toilets he would use, or what sport games he wanted to play.

Lesley said she had no concerns about future top surgery for her son, because she recognised that he is trans.

Lesley talked about her and her son doing research on top surgery and said her son can’t wait for it to happen. She hoped he can have the surgery on the NHS.

Lesley talked about her son’s dysphoria around periods, binding and packing. She said binding and packing made her son feel better about his body.

Lesley said her son was taken off testosterone when he was an inpatient because the staff decided he was ambiguous about parenthood.

Lesley felt hormone therapy was prescribed for other issues within the NHS, but there was a level of gate keeping’ for trans people.

Lesley looked at what support schools offer when choosing a new school for her son. She felt what was advertised was not always there in reality.

Lesley talked about the long waiting list and seeking private healthcare for her son, because of his deterioration in mental health.

Lesley talks about a shared cared agreement between a private provider and her son’s GP and how she felt her son would not be alive if he had to wait to see a gender specialist in the NHS specialist services.

Lesley thought the first appointments at the GIDS went well for her son, but felt that the therapists didn’t understand the consequences of him stopping hormone therapy, for which the family was paying privately.

Lesley felt CAMHS saw her son being trans as part of a mental health difficulty.

Lesley speaks about her GP being exceptionally supportive’ and feeling fortunate’ having secured a shared care arrangement for her son.

Lesley speaks about the stress of now knowing when her son would be seen.

When her son came out as trans, Lesley felt a sense of relief but also anticipated that things will be hard for him.

Lesley said she was anticipating her son to come out as trans since his early childhood.