Mel

Step-mother of a trans daughter. Ethnicity: Black Caribbean.

Step-mother of a trans daughter. Her step-daughter lives with her mother and sister and first came out to her mother. Her husband and his ex-wife go to all the GIDS appointments together and her step-daughter is due to start hormone blockers when signs of puberty start.

Step-mother of a trans daughter. Her step-daughter was very feminine even from a young age, but the family thought at the time that maybe he was gay. I think that was the normal like defaultBut just still a really, really happy kid. Really beautiful, beautifully spirited. Very kind and very thoughtful

As her step-daughter grew up she had been doing a lot of research and then confided in her mum about her gender issues. So, we, my husband and I were the last ones to know. So, we were way behind in terms of kind of getting to grips with what this was

She felt that her husband was grieving at first I think it’s the idea of what having a son means and what it represents and all that stuff. Having a name passed down the line and your genes blah, blah, blah, all that sort of stuff. And I think my husband realises it doesn’t matter, in the end

Her husband’s parents and siblings were not accepting at first and this was very tough on the family as they spent a lot of time together. It did take them a good year, But I think when they saw this isn’t a phase and actually how important it was as a family to be supportive and to show love and to show understanding

The transition was not always straightforward, We were really confused. And going out in about and just out in public, but she was dressed as a girl, but she hadn’t chosen her female name yet. We were calling her by her boy name. It was, now I think about it, yeah, that was pretty tough. That was tough on everybody. I don’t think she cared that much. But it was tough, because we were more worried about what people would think. We didn’t want people to be unkind or ask questions or make her feel uncomfortable

Junior school were supportive but there were questions, Which toilet does she use? And then a letter went roundAnd then it was obvious because she went to a very small village school that he was now a she There were some hurtful comment however she feels that, children these days are so accepting. They kind of just got on with it. I think people just forgot. I think when they saw her, as a girl it was like, ah right!; it’s the person she was always meant to be She does concede though that her step-daughter still has anxiety around people finding out and being really fearful of rejection by her peers.

Her step-daughter has been going to gender identity services for about two years and her husband, step-daughter and his ex-wife go every month for consultations. it’s been agreed that she can have hormone blocker but that they are waiting till she starts showing some traits of going through puberty I can’t help but feel that we;ve been, this has been fairly smooth and the real journey will start when she takes hormone blockersShe’s got some good friends. She’s doing well at school. But yes, we;re all kind of waiting to see what will happen with these hormone blockers. How will it affect her behaviour

They have discussed fertility issues with her step-daughter, We had some really big conversations around, you know, she wants to get married. She wants to have children. And started in the process of how that might work but she feels these are massive conversations to be having with someone so young. She is concerned about a number of issues; how they support her, what are the side-effects of blockers and hormone therapy in the future and about how her step-daughter will cope when her younger sister starts having periods and whether that causes any resentment.

She has found support in the past from Mermaids, a charity who supports trans children, and thinks she will be going back onto Mermaids platform a lot more in the future.

As a step-mother she feels, I’m on the periphery and running in a circle of anything because she has her mum and she has her dad and I am neither of those. But I’m just slightly outside. So, I feel like I can see more She feels she has always been quite an accepting person, The only thing I was ever worried about I think in terms with her is acceptance from other people and how it would affect her sort of now, later on in life

When asked what advice she would give to other parents or stepparents or carers of young trans and gender diverse people her message was, To listen. Really, really, listen to what their child is sayingf you can support and understand your child and give them unconditional love and give them a place to feel safe when they can like really express and be themselves, I think they;ll be in a lot stronger position

But she also says that, You can’t let that distract you from the fact that you are a family. There are all of you and there are other children to considerI just felt it was really, really important to make sure that the siblings are supported as well as the child is going through the process

Mel felt there was need for additional resources and more provision.

Mel talked about the need to listen, being respectful and sensitive to the needs of the young person.

Mel highlights that the experiences that children and young people have of healthcare professionals will shape their future engagement with health care.

Mel talks about not worrying about other people’s opinions.

Mel had new family photographs taken and gifted these to grandparents. This was both to replace older photographs and to represent the family with the trans child being the person who she is.

Mel describes how her husband’s parents took a good year’ to accept their granddaughter’s social transition.

Mel talked about how her younger stepdaughter supported her trans sister fully but also felt like an extra’ in her older sister’s show.

Mel thought being a stepmother means you are a bit outside, but this allows you to be more objective.

Mel understood her husband’s feelings of loss for his son, even if she recognised her stepdaughter was always the person she is now.

Mel said she and her husband initially felt apprehensive about her stepdaughter going out wearing girl’s clothes.

Mel felt that she had to educate people who were questioning her support for her trans stepdaughter. Her way to do it was to talk about the positive impact of the social transition on her stepdaughter.

Mel felt there was a lot of scare mongering in the media when it comes to trans issues, but she also thought the increased visibility meant more people would think and question their own ideas about gender.

Mel said her stepdaughter’s transition at school was tricky in the beginning. Despite that Mel thought that children these days were very accepting and her stepdaughter felt included and had friends at her school after her social transition.

Mel said her stepdaughter wanted to have children and that they have discussed fertility preservation as a family and with the Gender Identity Development Services.

For Mel waiting for hormone blockers felt almost like a time bomb. She also worried about her stepdaughter not going through puberty at the same time and in the same way as her peers.

Mel worries about the side effects of hormone blockers and talks about strategies to support her stepdaughter with mindfulness and meditation.

Mel felt being trans is a huge amount for someone to take on at such a young age’ and talked about helping her step daughter deal with anxiety.

Mel felt the appointments were going well for her step-daughter but also stressed the cost of getting to the appointments.

Mel felt her stepdaughter’s social transition accelerated’ and she and her husband were way behind in terms of coming to grips’ with it.

Mel spoke about her stepdaughter having close friends who accepted her, but feels that the fear of being rejected for being trans was a lot to deal with for her young stepdaughter.