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Guest Iamthemom

Is he gay? Is he transgender? A mom needs help.

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Guest Iamthemom   
Guest Iamthemom

So thankful to have found this site today. I need help and don't know where to begin. A couple of months ago, my eleven-year-old son told me he thought he was gay. We talked a lot about it, it seems to stem from his attraction to another boy at school, but I hear much more about girls he likes than this boy. I told him that same-sex attraction was normal for his age. (He is beginning to go through puberty.) He got a crush on a new girl, and we haven't talked about it much since. The place we left it at was him saying "huh, then maybe I'm not gay". Regardless, he knows that I love him and support him and that I've got his back, no matter what.

Last night, he told me (sweet boy, apologized first for "keeping a secret") that he's been dressing in my clothes when I go out on our deck or visit a neighbor, etc. He puts on my sports bra or shirts that are laying around in my room. He says he also does it in bed at night, "modifies" his clothes to be a girl's clothes. Uses socks for breasts. This explains why I've walked in and he's removed his shirt, or when I wake him in the morning he's wearing different items than what he went to bed in. Says he's been doing this since he was five. I've seen no evidence of it until recently.

I was blown away! Grateful that he told me, and I let him know that. He showed me the clothes he's been putting on in the past week. I gave him a bra and another shirt and told him I'd leave him alone in the bathroom for awhile. Told him if he wanted to wear my clothes he had to treat them gently, and that I'd prefer if he asked me first, rather than ransacking my dresser (which I don't believe he has done at this point, he's taken what's readily available). He ran off excited, and I sat on the couch, stunned, not knowing what to do, or even think. I don't know if he really is gay (he seems like the straightest male ever, to me, I could be in denial, but I have a hard time believing he's gay), I don't know if he's having gender-identity issues... for once in my life I'm completely lost as to what to do. He was in the bathroom for 40 minutes, put my things back, and then we talked a little more about it.

I asked him what feeling did he get from wearing my clothes? Did it excite him sexually? Did he like the feel of them? Did he pretend to be a girl? He couldn't explain it very well. I'm not sure if it's a sexual thing. He hasn't begun to self gratification yet but I think that's right around the corner. I asked him to please think about it the next time he did it - to think about what made him happy about it - what kinds of feelings did it give him, and he said that he would.

We've been talking a lot about sex lately because of his age - I want him to be knowledgeable and understand what's going on with his body. I want him to be happy and healthy, emotionally and physically. It's not an issue if he's gay or a cross-dresser or whatever - I'm here for him no matter what. I haven't been honest with him about my sexuality. He doesn't know that in my 20s I was positive I was a lesbian, but fell in love with, and married, a man.

I feel like if I talk to him about everything too much, it comes off like I'm trying to talk him out of being gay, when in reality I'm just trying to figure out how to support him. That's what I need, to know how to help, and in order to find resources, unfortunately, it seems I have to label him.

If he is gay, he's going to need extra support. He's in middle school and middle school boys are notoriously homophobic. If he's straight and likes to cross-dress, I need to know if I should encourage him, buy clothing that fits him instead of mine, or if I should dig deeper to find out if it's a gender identity issue. I need to know what to ask to help him be comfortable. When I was his age I was so confused about sex and my sexuality, and had no one to talk to. I was ashamed that I was attracted to girls. Don't want him to have to go through that confusion or shame.

(Hate using the words "problem" and "issue" and "help" - this isn't a problem, it's what's happening with my son - those are just easy words to use.)

He's been in therapy when my ex and I split up. The cost became an issue, so he hasn't been going about a year and a half. That brings up another situation - his father would hit the roof. So if I put him back into therapy, the therapist will tell my ex, and I don't think that's a good idea. I want my son to be able to speak freely about this, but not at the risk of his father finding this out. And regarding therapy, I don't really know if it's necessary. Also, putting him in therapy may suggest that I feel it's a "problem". Being gay isn't a problem.

This isn't very well written, I'm all over the place right now, so my apologies. Please, anyone, do you have any idea of how I should proceed? He's going on a trip with his dad, so I won't see him for three weeks. That gives me plenty of time for research and find out how best to support him.

Is he gay, and I have blinders on? What are good questions to ask him to help me (and him) understand what he's feeling? With children, I've noticed, straight questions don't often bring straight answers. Rather than have him embarrassed or ashamed, I want it out in the open, at least between us. If I'm confused, imagine how HE feels! Or maybe he's not confused, maybe he just can't express to me how he feels?

I think I did the right thing last night, *I think*. It was a little weird. I didn't ask to see him when he put my clothes on, I left him alone, and he didn't want to show me. If this IS sexual, it's personal, and I have to respect his privacy. But I also want to know, and need to know, what's going on.

Thank you, in advance, for any help you could give us. Any advice would be appreciated

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Mia J   
Mia J

First of all I would like to say that you are one fantastic mom. Good for you to be so understanding.

I would suggest the best thing at this point would be to take him to a therapist and maybe one who specializes in gender therapy.

If you and your husband are split up I am not sure why he would even have to know.

Mia

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Guest Jenth   
Guest Jenth

I think he'd have to know because they have joint custody, as is apparent with the 3 week long trip. Which brings up a question I hate to ask, but does your (we'll go with son until you have better details) know that your ex would explode at this news? You really are awesome and have taken this amazingly, which may make him think that dad would also take this news just as easily. (heh yeah cause hearing this was easy for you ;p) A therapist would probably help you and him better than you and him stumbling through this together, I have no legal knowledge so I don't know if there's a loophole you can use that would keep your ex from finding anything out. Maybe ask the therapist if there was some way he wouldn't have to tell the other parent.

Good luck,

Heathy

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wolfySH   
wolfySH

Wow; I wish you were my Mom.

I'm still pretty much just a kid, myself, so I'm not sure what advice I can give regarding course of action.

I think your hesitancy about not wanting the revival of therapy visits to inadvertently cue that your child's sexuality or gender identity is a problem is a sound worry.

Since you already seem to have such a fabulous relationship with your child, certainly infinitely more open than my relationship with my parents, I might ask your child what they think about talking to a therapist again. There's a chance that the only person your child feels comfortable with discussing these feelings with is you-- as opposed to a relative stranger behind a clipboard.

I'd really love to give kid-to-parent advice, but your situation is so vastly different (in the best way) from my situation growing up that I wouldn't even know where to begin. To give the most recent example of this, yesterday my parents emailed my therapist again about concerns regarding my "deviant lifestyle" and had questions as to whether or not I was "a transgender" and had "gotten a sex change." ... ... ...

My therapist sent a curt reply back suggesting that they educate themselves on the matter, and included several useful links for them to read up before they make assumptions-- the email they sent back, to condense it slightly, said "not interested."

It's one step forward, 10,000 leagues back with these people, honestly.

The main reason why I share this tidbit of unpleasantness is because I want you to understand what a great parent you are. I can't emphasize it enough.

Sherlock

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Nicholas   
Nicholas

I think probably one thing that's important to realize-- and is very central to your confusion about "is he gay, is he straight, is he male or trans female"-- is that both gender and sexuality are not black and white, cut and dry categories. They're spectrums. And no, I don't just mean that to add the one more category of "bi" (or "bigender/genderqueer/etc"), I mean these things really are spectrums of many different shades!

Falling in love with a man doesn't mean you never really liked women. It just means that you liked both, at some point in your life, and the person you happened to really fall in love with was on the male side. You don't have to have equal quantities of crushes on men and women to be "bisexual;" if at any point you had feelings for a woman, those feelings were real-- you weren't a confused straight person, you just might be a person who has, say, a 90% male-leaning sexuality with 10% female-leaning. You liked both, just not in equal amounts. Nor is a "gay" man who has also been with one or two women (out of genuine attraction) confused at all; it just means he's not on the absolute pole end of that half of the spectrum-- maybe he likes men/women at a 80/20% ratio, or a 90/10, or even a 60/40 or anything else ratio! Sometimes sexuality can be fluid, too; over your life, you might start to gravitate towards certain kinds of people to be attracted to, whether you start liking people of certain heights, facial features, body types, professions, personalities, or even-- yep-- genders. What I mean is, not only do these feelings occur in certain ratios inside you, those ratios can change over time-- whether narrowing or broadening.

This directly rates to gender, as well. Is your son transgender? The thing is, there's only one way to know-- if he says he is. There literally is no other way, because being transgender isn't a black and white thing either, many times. Maybe he's just a boy who enjoys some aspects of womanhood, but doesn't actually identify as female (this can manifest in crossdressing)-- maybe he enjoys these things because he does feel a bit female inside-- maybe he has various feelings of femininity and masculinity, but doesn't wish to change his body or the role he lives out his life in. Or maybe he does. Remember that just as there are masculine women (butch, etc), there can be masculine TRANS women-- people with male genitals who identify as female but don't engage in all the ritualistic social expectations of femininity, even engaging in some (or many!) things stereotypically male.

I think one way that may help is to just ask him some simple questions like, "have you ever felt like you wanted to be a girl?" "would you ever want to be a wife, or a husband?" "do you like dresses better or suits?" "have you ever pretended to be a girl while playing a game? was it fun? did you like it any more than normal?" "what kind of person would you want to marry?"

Also, as I'm sure you may realize, gender presentation doesn't necessarily dictate sexuality, either. What I mean is, you can be a very stereotypically masculine, conservative, traditional man, and still be gay; you can be a stereotypically "flamboyant" and feminine man, and still be straight; those things aren't related. (And, in fact, there are transgender people who never engage in any medical intervention, but their identity is equally valid as anyone else's.)

And in the end, the only one who can actually answer your questions is time. Your son is still growing, and might not yet have the mental capacity to completely analyze how he feels and what the consequences or meaning of that is. Right now, not much can be done but be patient, and continue asking how he feels and what would make him happy. I do agree with Mia, though-- the understanding and love that shines through your post is truly remarkable, and a truly outstanding example of an amazing parent. I hope everything goes well with you, your son, and the rest of the family!

Cheers...

Nick

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Drea   
Drea

I would say not to try and over analyze the situation.

It really isn't going to be possible to figure it out for him and if you do jump to some conclusion and encourage the direction you believe he headed perhaps isn't all different than expecting him to stay within cultural norms and encouraging that.

I do not know what child is going to be entirely honest about feelings in the area of sexuality or gender identity at such an age with their parents. In a way it isn't all to different than discussing your parents sex life with your parents. Maybe that is easy for some.

The crossdressing doesn't mean much. Yes it could be an indicator of transgender, but it does define what you call transgender. If you mean transgender is the sense of someone who is likely to go thru gender role transtion, I say crossdressing can be an indicator but since maybe 1 in 20 boys engage in some crossdressing while only something like 1 in 1000 will transition, odds suggest it is the former. If you mean transgender in the umbrella sense including any level of crossdressing, well if he crossdress to any degree now, the answer would evidently be yes.

The terms can be confusing because meanings are even debated within the community.

Best you can do is not make him feel ashamed over any of it and avoid embarrassing in any way about which may mean respecting him if he feels akward discussing it. In other words, if he doesn't feel like talking about it, unless there is some obvious problem which must be resolved, there is no need to pry.

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Guest Risu   
Guest Risu

I second Mia, you are an amazing mother and whatever is going on your son is lucky to have.

I don't think this is something you can self diagnose. This is something your son needs to tell you himself, and again I second Mia that a gender specialist may go a long way into helping you figure this out. Your son is young and it still may be a little soon to tell yet.

Generally, but not always cross gender behaviour starts young. I remember thinking of myself as female as early as 4. If he has been modifying his clothing since he was young, as young as he says it's a possibility he could be having some transgender feelings, but this is something he will need to tell you or his therapist. Think back on his early childhood. He may seem to act "straight" but were there or are there any other signs like a preference for girls toys or a preference for typically feminine colors? A lot of us learn early how to "act" like the person society tells us to be, but there should have been some other signs.

Then of course there is the rare occasion of transgender feelings setting in a little bit later in childhood, or even young adulthood. Whatever the case he is fortunate he has a mom who is trying to be accepting and allowing him to explore. I can only imagine how hard this is on you, not because it's bad to be different, diverse, but because it's so much harder. Just remember to seek support for yourself too when you need it, whether it is here or elsewhere.

If he is gay he can still seem straight. Not all gay men are stereotypically feminine so it's possible that is an option, but his attractions and desires are all things he will need to explore and hopefully accept as he grows.

One last bit of thought, Studies show that generally but not always, sons take more personality wise after their mothers and girls after their fathers. If you had similar thoughts and feelings around his age then it is entirely possible he could experience them too and it's fortunate you know what all of this is like. At 11 years old I don't think you'll reach an answer quickly or easily, so no need to rush into therapy just yet until he gives you more reason to think that he needs it. Maybe look into information from your local LGBT center and see if they have any reduced cost therapy available or any resources to help you, even if it's maybe other parents going through something similar.

I wish you and your child the best of luck and I thank you again for being such a supportive and loving mother. It seems you've done a great job with him so far and your love and support will go a long way as he grows up.

*hugs*

~Jade.

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Guest Svenna   
Guest Svenna

Iamthemom,

You are a candidate for Mom of the Year in my book!

Wow, such compassion and level-headedness, very nice!

I'm not a parent, but I was a transgendered child that lived a boys life, unfortunately. All I can say is that although you may have reservations about therapy and your husband's reaction, I sure wish my Mom had listened to me and taken me to see a gender specialist, especially if it could be done without my Dad or siblings knowing about it. As a Mom, I believe you DO have a right to protect your child from the bigotry of the father. Please, please protect your son from the emotional cruelty that fathers OFTEN lay on their gender-variant children...

I suggest that you find a real gender therapist to discuss this issue with and soon. Between you and the therapist, a plan can be made to involve your child without is seeming like he is being 'analyzed'. Make the sessions seem like an informal get-together with a 'new friend'..

Best to you, you are a great Mom!

Love, Svenna

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Guest Elizabeth K   
Guest Elizabeth K

I agree with Drea. It is so easy to over-think these things and in any case you cannot get a diagnosis on his condition, not by researching this yourself, not by using a regular therapist, and not even from asking us questions here on Laura's Playground. It's just too complicated. The answer, unfortunately, lies in having your son talk with a gender dysphoria trained therapist, and they are hard to find.

But I would still do some research to see if any are in your area. The therapist should be a psychologist, not a psychiatrist, and should have at least a few years of experience with gender dysphoric clients. If you have money issues, many will work on a sliding scale. As strange as it sounds the LGBT organizations in your state should have some suggestions as to finding gender therapists. Also look in the main page here on Laura's Playground, and find where there is a listing of Gender Dysphoria Trained Therapists in your state. (GT for short)

That said, let me add that people here on Laura's Playground are diverse and include gay, crossdresser, gender variant and transsexual. We all have our stories and it might be good to talk with us, and to our supporters. There is a group of parents here, all mothers I think. They might have insights on what is going on with your son. I think knowing you are not alone will really ease your mind

I am a transitioned woman, but I am also a parent of three grown children. Yikes, they are hard to raise - kids I mean. You want to be the perfect mother and its hard to know if what you are doing is the best for them I am also older and have been on Laura's Playground for a long time. YET - hummm - I hardly know what to tell you. I am not an expert in any form or fashion, I have only my own observations and experiences.

I think from the joy your son seems to get from being allowed to freely wear you clothes, indicates a gender dysphoria of some kind. Like Drea says, crossdressing is really not that serious, and as many as 5% but at least 1% of males crossdress during their lives. And many are very into it, many are occasional dressers, and some are just sporadic - but, statistically, all are usually heterosexual and many are married. It's just how some people are, gender varient in dress. Women also crossdress male - but there is no real social stigma for women crossdressers unless it is flamboyant.

I started dressing in my sisters clothes at age 8 and progressed to my mothers clothes soon after. I liked wearing female clothing because it made me feel good, secure, and it felt right. But yes - I am really transsexual, not a crossdresser,as it turns out. It's neither better nor worse being transsexual and crossdressing, it's just different. And it's hard to know the difference sometimes. Well...just think of it this way, crossdressers dress to show a feminine side and transsexuals dress to be female.

Your son? Try buying some age appropriate girls clothing for him. Nothing flamboyant - see how he does. This will NOT make his gender dysphoria worse nor will it encourage it. He is what he is already. Not an encouragement but rather a more personal way for him to experience his needs without wearing YOUR clothes. You can also set boundaries, like NOT OUTSIDE THE HOUSE. Work it to his comfort level, things like that. You should then eventually get to see him dressed , and how he behaves. That would help you understand

Gay? You know that story having been questioning of yourself. What is gay in today's world? I don't consider myself gay, but I do not fit in the binary sexual world. Hardly anyone really does. Your son is what he is. His sexual orientation may be all over the place, at least until he personally sorts it out for himself. I would explain to him that he really won't know his true feelings until he is much older. It today's world, we love someone, and their sex is not that important. The SOCIAL acceptance of that love is always in a judgement - plus the personal needs like to have children or not, etc, are a consideration. To ease his path trough puberty and the agony of secondary education, he may want to keep quiet on sexual orientation, until he is confident of what it is.

Crossdressing and being gay? It's possible. It's not as common as being straight and crossdressing. Being transsexual and crossdressing? It is also possible, but not necessarily guaranteed. Almost all of we transsexual did some amount of crossdressing - I mean we want to express how we feel, our woman selves. But not all crossdresser are transsexual. In fact, very few are.

But also realize there are some people who fit inside the transgender umbrella, who are not transsexual nor crossdressers - people who identify as neither gender, as both genders, or are sometimes one way, then the other. That's why I said at the top, it's too complicated.

Final word? How can you know? I don't think you can. It may take your son years to figure it out, or he may tell you tomorrow.- who knows?

So support him - like you are doing - don't over-think this. See if you can work it out with him so he is happy - whatever it takes (within reason of course)

His father? OUCH. That is something I suppose you will have to play by ear.

Lizzie

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Alex59   
Alex59

Can I just say, you are an amazing Mum seriously. My mum was/ is like this. My dad has just been told like 2 months now and he is really supportive aswell. Me and my mum knew what to expect; which was him to go away for a while, get his head round things. But the one thing niether of us knew was if he would except me seeing as hes a real manly man. He not only accepts this sudden announcement but he is perfectly my fine with wearing make-up, ugg boots, my hair in pony-tails, ect. Moral of my story is; you never know what to expect. My mum kept putting it off for ages but deep down knew it had to be done and truth be told she honestly said " I dont know if he would accept Aaron (my boy name :L to my therapist) I would be over the moon if he did, but if he doesnt, hes just gonna have to go". I love her so much because she is such a strong woman and mother <3. I mean come on, right up until the day I told him he would let me wear a tad of concieler let alone foundation + eyeliner +mascara+eyebrow pencils+ lipgloss etc xD Ultimately; You just never know what to expect. Hope this helps :)

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GinaInside   
GinaInside

Hi Iamthemom,

You sound like a wonderful supportive Mom, and thank you for being kind and understanding to your child. If only all Moms could be as understanding!

I knew I was different very young, had no-one to talk to about it, and when I hit puberty, I thought I was going to die. My GD was that bad. It is not easy to gage how your child is doing, or will handle this issue. Perhaps the best thing you can do at this time, is make it clear to your child that anytime he needs to speak to you about this issue, you are willing to listen. Maybe consider letting him decide if he needs to speak to a GT, or if he can make an honset self-assessment just now. Just letting your child know you care has probably relieved a great deal of his stress and tension; that may be enough for now. Puberty will be a telling time period most likely. It would likely be best to be honest with the child's Dad, too. I wish you all the best.

Hugz,

Gina Renee

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Guest Shauna B   
Guest Shauna B

Wow, so many people have already verbalized everything that I wanted to say, and they probably did a better job of it than I can. The main thing for me to say is WAY TO GO!!!! You are handling this amazingly! I will share a ebit of my personal experience as I think it relates to your son and your questions.

Some time around the age of 12/13, I started wearing panties. It started as an occasional then increasing over time to being daily as an adult. And as I got older I also added other womens clothing. In the beginning, At that time, I had no idea what it ment, it wasn't a sexual thing, they just felt much more comfortable than normal mens underware.

In my early twenties I thought that maybe I was just a cross dresser. but now 18 years after this all started, I know that I am trans. As to his sexual orientation, the one doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the other. I am married to a wonderful woman, and hope with all of my heart that after transition that the wonderful woman will still be married to me. Thru all of those years, I never had any sexual attraction to men.

I hope that somehow helped. Best of luck to you and keep up the amazing work!

Hugs!

Shauna

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Drea   
Drea

In my early twenties I thought that maybe I was just a cross dresser....

A minor point, off topic I know. Whenever I see that phrase "just a crossdresser" I want to say there is nothing wrong and it makes it sound diminuitive as if something is better. Different, yes. More or better, no. Just my opinion.

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Guest Shauna B   
Guest Shauna B

In my early twenties I thought that maybe I was just a cross dresser....

A minor point, off topic I know. Whenever I see that phrase "just a crossdresser" I want to say there is nothing wrong and it makes it sound diminuitive as if something is better. Different, yes. More or better, no. Just my opinion.

You are absolutely Drea, and there was absolutely no malintent with my wording, just a bad choice of words! Sometimes writting while an emotional wreck isn't a good idea.

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Guest Elizabeth K   
Guest Elizabeth K

Shauna - its okay, you are having a very hard time right now. Drea is correct. We honor all here at Laura's Playground and ask that they honor us. But yes - we slip up sometimes - everyone has a world they have to live in and sometimes? SUX. I hope yours gets better soon.

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Guest Krisina   
Guest Krisina

Welcome to Lauras. You sound like an awesome Mom for being supportive of your child regardless of how your child identifies eiher sexually or with gender.

You mentioned your child had said that he/she ( I do not know how your child identifies internally with gender identity yet) has been dressing up secretly since a young age. That is not something done as sexual, sexual arousal etc. That was done before that stage in life. Children for example a gay male would probably be completely comfortable and happy with his gender Identiy, with his body. But, he would be attracted to males and male gay romance. A transgender straight male to female child although perhaps attracted to men, visualizing being with men, it would be if they had the female body while interacting with the guy Your son likes girls and maybe even envies how lucky girls are. I think for me being with girlfriends perhaps I was living through them their life as a girl. But getting back on track. If your son had an attraction to guys but didn't have any gay feelings or desires. If he wanted to be a girl and only really visualized being with a guy as a girl, then you have a straight female in the wrong body. The body doesnt match the mind. If your child is transgendered (internal identity is female) and likes girls better than boys then that would make your child a lesbian. The sexuality spectrum of what people like and not like attraction wise isn't black and white either. There are different shades of gray in between. Everyone is different.

It sounds to me like your child might be transgender. But that is only my thought on this, others might have differing opinions on this Ultimately a specialized gender therapist is the person to see. They can ask some questions that you might not have thought of both related to sexuality and gender identity.

I wish you great success in helping your child be the best person they can be. Both accepted and loved for who they are and not for being who you want them to be. You sound like a wonderful loving Mom. Your child is very lucky to have you in their life.

Krisina

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Guest Iamthemom   
Guest Iamthemom

Thank you all, very, very much, for replying to me. I'm overcome. I'm reading everything right now and taking notes.

Mia J. - thank you for the compliment. Heathy had it right - I can't take him to a therapist w/out his father's knowledge. We have a joint plan, 50/50. When I was shopping for therapists before, I found this out.

Heathy - I'm basing my expectation of his father's reaction on my knowledge of him (not married long, 8 years, but still). We had a lot of gay friends/acquaintances when we were married, I don't know about now. He knew I had a history of both male and female relationships, never had much to say about that. A couple of years ago he sat our son down and told him that his friends were going to think he was a "p----y" if he didn't "man up" and stop being so fearful about things on the playground. My gut tells me he won't like it, and my son's gut says the same - he made me promise not to tell his dad, and I'm positive he's not going to say anything about it to him.

Sherlock! I'm so sorry about your parents, but very happy that you have a therapist and that you're on this site. When I became a mom, "I wish you were my mom" became the #1 compliment in the world, so I thank you, and I'm sending you a hug. Your hair is AWESOME, btw.

I am posting replies to the readers who replied to me in a few parts, I'm afraid I'm going to delete everything accidentally and have to start over. Rookie, I know... Must express again though, how waking up today feels much different than waking up yesterday. I'm not so scared, I see there's support for he and I, and I have some of my questions answered, as well as some great advice. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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CyndiRae   
CyndiRae

Good morning most caring and understanding Mom, I just found your story. You received wonderful advice already, so I wont try and repeat.

I did live a similar scenario growing up, except my Mom did not know about my cross dressing. I kept it the utmost secret back then. I thought at one point because I liked girls and girl things, that I might turn out to be gay, that turned out not to be the case, I remember this questioning phase and just how confusing this all was. It's awesome you have open discussions with your son about this. I had to figure it out all on my own pretty much. Now with the Dad and the potential problems this can bring if becomes aware of the sons feelings. I remember these "Man up" discussions from my Dad (who left us @ age 7), and how hard this was to try and live up to these expectations, this was absolutely so stressful, yet I feel it's part of growing up. Dad if he learns of your sympathy and understanding however may attempt custody modifications, I hope that is not the case. The father son relationship is very complex one of expectations, and it becomes more intense I think in a split home. The Dad may want to "make up" for lost time, and this only intensifies the "Man up" approach when he has custody. I really feel for your son, having these feelings, this is a very hard time of soul and identity searching. Fortunately I think we live in more enlightened times now and more information is available than ever before to assist. Our area here in Western WA is a good area generally for understanding of these issues, so you have these potential advantages. If the boy is not experiencing social isolation, or bullying then I would not worry too much, let time work this out, it's possible he may just stop wanting to cross dress on his own, but it sounds like quite a history already, so be prepared for the long haul.

Best wishes

Cindy -

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Guest Iamthemom   
Guest Iamthemom

To Nick: after I posted yesterday, (which took me about an hour to write, and I was so anxious because the more I found online the less I felt I understood what's happening with my son), I realized I don't have to have this figured out overnight. The "problem" solver in me wants to jump right in and figure out what the heck is going on, so I can be proactive. I just wrote down your questions so that I can ask him later. You said "Your son is still growing, and might not yet have the mental capacity to completely analyze how he feels and what the consequences or meaning of that is. Right now, not much can be done but be patient, and continue asking how he feels and what would make him happy" - you're so right! I can't expect him to be able to verbalize what he's feeling! Thank you for reminding me that he's a CHILD (sometimes I really, truly forget - his empathy level is high above most children his age, and he's bright - but he's eleven). Thank you for your compliments. I feel a bit less-than because he's going through something I don't understand, so telling me I'm being a good mom is most appreciated right now.

Drea: me? Overanalyze? :) That's the other thing I came away with after posting yesterday - calm down, don't overthink it - so thanks for the reminder. You talked about labels and said "The terms can be confusing because meanings are even debated within the community." - you're so right.

I most certainly will not shame him - I won't do that - hopefully I never have. I have tried to NOT be that kind of parent. I was brought up with shame, shame, shame on you! Uh-uh, not for my kid.

Jade: I've been racking my brain, since he told me he was gay, for any cues, and I haven't thought of any. When he was younger I did my best to not dictate M/F to him - painted his room yellow, dressed him in every color (but boyish clothes, I guess), and didn't buy him boy-type toys. Didn't buy him Barbies though, either, he never asked for dolls. I tried not to tell him how to act, but I'm sure I did subconsciously. I put him into sports and music, I let his hair grow long and then cut it off when he said that's what he wanted (he specifically said he didn't want to look like a girl, I remember that). This is where the overanalyzing comes in, I've been thinking and thinking of clues from the past and I need to stop. He is what he is, and he's told me now - now I know, and now we can move forward.

"Just remember to seek support for yourself too when you need it, whether it is here or elsewhere." I will, if only to know how to support him better. When he told me he was gay, I wasn't disappointed, I just thought oh, wow, kid, you're in for an uphill battle. Of course I didn't say that but the reality is there! So I realize he and I will need help as we go along. I've found a bunch of help here this morning, much more than I expected, thank you so much for writing to me. I've been on here for one hour forty minutes already!

"If he is gay he can still seem straight. Not all gay men are stereotypically feminine" - I know, I hope I didn't sound like an ignorant jerk when I wrote what I did. I guess the feeling that he's not gay comes from his interactions with other children, the way he acts with women, the way he acts with men. But that brings up another good point - I am ignorant about this and I hope to not be. I don't want to offend anyone, if I do, it would be my ignorance, and not me trying to be rude. I had so many gay friends when I was younger, and then in my 20s I had a serious lifestyle change. Before that, my time was spent with friends in gay clubs, with friends who did drag, with ultra-femmy girls. Then I went away to college in my 20s and I was surrounded by STRAIGHT STRAIGHT STRAIGHT. I recently met a woman who is transitioning from M to F - she came into the bookstore where I work - and we exchanged numbers. I thought about it after she left, why did I take so well to her, I don't often make girlfriends hanging out at stores! But now I think I have my answer. I emailed her yesterday but haven't heard back yet. I have a million questions for her, as I do for all of you here.

One thing that makes this easier is feeling the way I did at his age. I liked boys, but i also liked girls. I DO understand that part.

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Guest Iamthemom   
Guest Iamthemom

Lizzie, thank you for all your thoughts. When he comes home I'm going to ask him if he'd like to go shopping. I think. When it comes time I may lose my nerve.

Alex, you're right, I can't say what his father's reaction is going to be, I hope that when/if it's time, it's better than I expect. I'm so glad your father took things well! :)

Gina Renee, YIKES, puberty! He's smack in the middle of it, his body is going crazy right now, many, many changes. I don't recognize parts of him anymore - I think that's all I need to say about that. So it makes sense for this to come up now, right? When I was his age, that's when all this started (tho I remember being attracted to girls around age eight).

Shauna, can't imagine what your journey has been like. Thank you for sharing with me, and thank you for the encouragement.

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Guest Iamthemom   
Guest Iamthemom

Krisina - I didn't think about that - obviously, if he's been doing it since he was five, it wouldn't be sexual! Thanks for pointing that out!

Okay, I've taken away a lot from these posts. I'm going to find a gender specialist in our area, just to be prepared. I'll talk to my son and ask if he wants to talk to someone about it. My guess is that he'll want to talk to his old therapist, and I don't think she works in that field, but she could make a recommendation.

I can't tell all of you how much I appreciate your words, I really, really do. When I had him I wanted to raise him - not just be his mother, but to raise him - I want to do the best I can. Being informed right now is the best I can do. Well, that and also letting him know that I love him and don't feel differently about him. I have to let go of figuring everything out at once (check), realize nothing is black and white (check), and try not to be a control freak. (uh... check?)

Once again, very, very happy to have found this website!

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Guest Iamthemom   
Guest Iamthemom

Dad if he learns of your sympathy and understanding however may attempt custody modifications, I hope that is not the case. The father son relationship is very complex one of expectations, and it becomes more intense I think in a split home. The Dad may want to "make up" for lost time, and this only intensifies the "Man up" approach when he has custody. I really feel for your son, having these feelings, this is a very hard time of soul and identity searching.

Best wishes

Cindy -

Cindy - I do have worries about this but didn't want to say it outloud. I am afraid that if his father knows, his father will say it's "my fault" or something, that's the way he thinks, and if he finds out that I'm encouraging it, will he have legal reason? Very scary thoughts. I already regret agreeing to the 50/50 residential schedule. It's about a year and a half old and has been VERY DIFFICULT for both my son and I. Before this he was with his father four days every other week. I went through a deep depression when this began, and it took me a full year to adjust. As for my son, I know it's hard for him to be away from me, but when we talk about it I try to accent the positive.

Do you know of specific Western Wa resources for me? Any particular agency? Any particular place to find a good psychologist? I really would like to speak to someone about my son before he gets back.

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CyndiRae   
CyndiRae

Dad if he learns of your sympathy and understanding however may attempt custody modifications, I hope that is not the case. The father son relationship is very complex one of expectations, and it becomes more intense I think in a split home. The Dad may want to "make up" for lost time, and this only intensifies the "Man up" approach when he has custody. I really feel for your son, having these feelings, this is a very hard time of soul and identity searching.

Best wishes

Cindy -

Do you know of specific Western Wa resources for me? Any particular agency? Any particular place to find a good psychologist? I really would like to speak to someone about my son before he gets back.

This organization provides counseling and referrals. This would be a good starting place, to learn more.

Location:

Seattle Counseling Services

1216 Pine St Suite 300

Seattle, Washington 98101

http://ingersollcenter.org

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GinaInside   
GinaInside

Gina Renee, YIKES, puberty! He's smack in the middle of it, his body is going crazy right now, many, many changes. I don't recognize parts of him anymore - I think that's all I need to say about that. So it makes sense for this to come up now, right? When I was his age, that's when all this started (tho I remember being attracted to girls around age eight).

Hi Iamthemom,

Yes, puberty may be a defining time, it certainly was for me. When I hit puberty, I knew I had a major problem. My worst fears became a reality then. Along with the body changes, came a new level of understanding, and it will be important for your child to be honest to you about any he/she may have. It is a defining point in life, and facing the issue now will make a big difference in his/her future. Very likely, he/she is still trying to sort out where the feelings come from and why.

Growing up, I had no idea why I may have been this way, and at the time there no studies of the causes for being Trans. Now there are brain, gene and hormone studies going on that tend to show hard evidence that this is a physical issue, not just a psychological one. Just knowing half of this stuff when I was young would have helped me cope better. Yes, the truth about being Trans is both saddening, a frightening, it has been for me anyway. I'm geussing you've been doing some research, but here a few extra links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_transsexualism

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7689007.stm

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/45962.php (You did'nt mention an older brother, but this is something I had, so I thought I'd add this)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenatal_hormones_and_sexual_orientation

http://www.avitale.com/index.htm

http://www.tsroadmap.com/index.html

http://www.biomotionlab.ca/Demos/BMLwalker.html (here is something to help you analyze his/her walk)

There are also studies of brain structure, I had a link but can't find it.

I hope these links help. Thank you again for being an understnding Mom.

Hugz,

Gina Renee

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