Raising a Transgender Child

My son wasn’t like the rest of the boys

Photograph by Getty Images

Like every other hopeful mom, Deeanna Collier was excited about the impending birth of her first child even though her mother was a little less than thrilled that her teenager was pregnant. At 16, Deeanna was still going to the skating rink and skipping school at every opportunity. Despite her antics, Deeanna managed to win her own mom over, and they both grew excited as the days counted down to the birth of her first child.

“I wanted a little girl so I could dress her up like a lil’ baby doll,” Deeanna remembered with a laugh. But on that fateful day when she gave birth, Deeanna received a double surprise. Not only did she give birth to a beautiful baby boy, but after looking him over, she was pretty sure that the hospital had switched her baby with someone else's.

Her baby boy was fair-skinned with piercing blue eyes and long, shiny black hair. Deeanna, who is black, wondered if they had handed her a white baby by mistake. Deeanna’s mother, who had been there for the delivery, assured her that she had the correct baby and after a few more curious stares Deeanna relented.

Deeanna had a rough childhood, which made it even more important to offer her own child the things she never had. She overindulged him, never giving him a chance to cry and offered hours of uninterrupted playtime and attention.

She knew that her son wasn’t like the rest of the boys on the block and never would be.

Encouraging her baby boy’s development, Deeanna doted on her son. His progress reached a turning point when he was around 4 years old. At this point, Deeanna noticed that he wasn’t interested in rough-housing and playing typical boy games. Instead, he favored playing dress-up with her best friend’s daughter, having make-up parties, prancing around in heels and dresses and stuffing the front with tissues.

Deeanna was a little taken aback by this behavior, but her friends and family assured her that this type of play was normal so she didn’t press the issue, allowing her baby boy to freely play out his childhood fantasies as he saw fit.

One day when he was nearly 5, while watching him giggle and twirl in front of the mirror, something clicked inside of Deeanna’s mind, and she knew. She knew that her son wasn’t like the rest of the boys on the block and never would be.

Deeanna didn’t wonder if her son was gay, bisexual or transgender. She simply decided to allow him to be himself and encouraged him to do what makes him happy. At one point Deeanna admits she blamed herself for his transition. She wondered if loving him so much and sheltering him had turned him into a girl.

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