A little about our Journey thus far; there is so much more to come. My name is Christy and I’m mother to my FTM son. I couldn’t imagine life without him and I love who he is always and forever.
You often think that being a mother is straight forward. You give birth, feed them, change them, bathe them and raise them. You don’t ever think about the in between stuff that rises up. The challenges you could and probably will encounter in your child’s adolescent years. The changes that can happen as they go through evil puberty, and it can hit hard in some cases. Most of the time, when you’re told you have a healthy, beautiful baby boy or girl, you think life is going to be normal and great. Your child will grow up with your values and beliefs, and they will learn their own along the way as well. You never say to yourself, “Well, I had a baby girl, but she is going to want to be a boy at the age of four.”
The thing is; my whole pregnancy I didn’t want to know what gender I was having. All though I knew with my whole heart that I was having a boy. His name would have been Tyler Charles, after my daddy. My journey really begins when my born daughter at the age of 4, only wanted to shop in the boy section. I usually tossed it up as her being a tomboy, or she was just more comfortable that way. I never imagined all that playing in the dirt and the cars and trucks would turn into her being 12, and telling me she was really a boy. The appropriate term is Transgender. My daughter born Paige Jean is now legally Peytin Joseph Martin. It all made sense after a while, and it took me some time to fully come to terms with this new way of life. My life wouldn’t be the same; little did I know, it would be filled with heartache, nightmares, yet at the same time more love. Things weren’t going to be the same; I was grieving a lost daughter, but accepting a new son at the same time. This Journey had just begun, but with a very trying start.
Pey went through elementary school having to hide who he truly was, and that made him extremely sick. He was scared and didn’t know how others would react. There were some years where he missed 10-15 days of school. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. I’m now more aware of those anxiety signs. My husband and I were sitting around the house talking and getting the younger boys ready for the pool; that’s when the bomb hit us. We found a note on our bed that read: Mom and Dad, I am transgender. This means that I am a boy in a girl’s body. I hope you still love me and I am sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. Love, Pey. I looked at Pey’s father; we decided to approach this after the younger boys left for the pool. Pey’s father had a harder time with this than I did. See, my whole life I had been all about equal rights. Mike didn’t grow up with this same outlook. When it comes to your own child, who you love unconditionally, you come to terms with a new way of life.
It was about an hour later when I had Pey come to the living room and sit down. I looked at him and said, “I will love you no matter who you are and what you do. There is nothing that would stop us from loving and caring for you.” The relief on his face was out of this world. You could tell that a ton of bricks were lifted off his chest. I will admit, I had sensed some previous clues, but didn’t want to believe it. This did make it easier on me, as you almost grieve, when your child is transgender. You grieve the little girl you gave birth to. The purple and pink hair bows and pretty little yellow dresses. This is very normal and don’t be hard on yourself for feeling that loss. You also celebrate gaining a son, or in my case another son. I am a mother of three boys now, and I don’t think I could imagine it any other way.
We decided to begin this journey by seeking out a therapist specializing in LGBTQ issues. It led us to Chelsi Jahn at Season’s Center in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Chelsi was great, helping us to navigate the beginning of this long journey. After meeting with her for a few sessions, she diagnosed Peytin with Gender Dysphoria, Anxiety, and Depression. We turned to our primary physician, who put Peytin on a birth control in order to try and control his female hormones. The pills didn’t really do it for us and Peytin really wanted hormone blockers. Our physician referred us to Dr. Katie Ode-Larson in Iowa City, IA. She runs a LGBTQ clinic on Tuesday nights out of the Coralville Clinic. Hormone blockers are no joke. You have to be approved through insurance and then they mail the medicine already in the syringe to your house. This needle is as big as they get, and the mixture is very thick. Fortunately, I have a nurse friend who was nice enough to show me how to do all this new shot stuff; it was scary. The purpose of the hormone blockers was to stop the menstrual cycle. It was a short term fix that was the beginning of Pey’s transitioning.
Pey had to endure these shots for about six months, and then he would be able to start testosterone. When Pey got the go ahead to start his weekly shot in the leg, he couldn’t have been more excited. The process to get all the materials was a hassle; you have to have the right needles and syringes. When I got everything ready for his first shot, I was very shaky. Mind over matter is very important. You don’t want to mess up and stick your child to hard or somewhere you shouldn’t. Pey chose to get the shots in his legs. We would alternate every other week. He started off with a beginner dose, and that was pretty easy to handle. As the months and years went by, he was eventually put on full adult dose. This is the dose he will have to take the rest of his life. The more he was prescribed, the scarier it got for me having to inject him. I am not sure why, but it just seemed as if I grew in my anxiety as the physician prescribed more medicine to go into my child. Pey was confident in me and my poking abilities, so that did help. I won’t say it’s easy; I still make him bleed some times. I will say my anxiety has become less as time has passed.
Changes that Pey have experienced are his deeper voice, which will continue to drop as he ages, the body hair he has everywhere, and he’s most proud of his facial hair. He won’t shave it off for anything. This is funny to me, as he has very dark hair. See, Pey is half Mexican, so his hair shows up pretty well anyway. Pey was lucky enough to actually grow a few inches as well. The physician didn’t think he was going to grow anymore, but he proved her wrong. In the beginning of his LGBTQ clinic visits, they did x-rays. This would tell us whether his growth plates where done growing or not. The x-rays showed that he would be done growing at the age of 14, but he ended up putting on those inches. Another thing he is very proud of, as who wants to be a short dude. He got that trait from his mother, and he doesn’t like it.
The life of mothering a transgender teen isn’t easy, and it can be very stressful mentally and physically. My son unfortunately has his mother’s depression and anxiety on top of the depression from everyday mean people and just going through transitioning. Junior high was not very nice to Pey. Many peers of his would call him names, cyber bully him and one time made him go into a closet. There were many trips to the emergency room for suicidal thoughts and idealizations. Those trips turned into weeks stays in a crisis unit and finally a four month stay in a mental facility. Without this journey, Pey wouldn’t be in the positive place, which he is in now. I am not an expert, but I can share the experiences we have been through, and what we have learned.