In a few months, I will be leaving the home I have lived in for close to 20 years: the home where my children were raised for most of their lives and the home that I considered my dream house. To be honest, I went through a period of sadness and fear because of this move. We sold the house without another place to move to. And we have decided to move from a large property with a huge front and backyard to a condo. Yes, we received a price we couldn’t turn down. Yes, we negotiated a nine-months free rental clause. And yes, we had no closing costs to pay or no buyers trampling through our house looking in every nook and cranny. It was an amazing deal, but it also meant change.
Change is hard for me. It requires that I let go of all that is familiar. I like the familiar. My co-workers would chuckle when I traveled on business because I liked not only the same hotel, but also I often even asked for the same room. It made me feel safe and comfortable.
When Aiden announced that he was going to transition from female to male, I remember those same feelings of discomfort, sadness and fear, but even more intensely. I would be losing my daughter. So much would change, and that meant I would have to change, too. What would our future look like? How was Aiden going to find a good job? What was he going to tell his future children? How could I keep him safe in a world that was often ignorant and heartless? The bottom line: How was my son going to live a happy and fulfilled life?
All that swirled around in my head were the negatives. Initially, I dwelled on all that I would be losing and all the challenges that lay ahead. I spent endless hours trying to anticipate every possible contingency in order to support Aiden making the right decisions. I wanted to walk away from this experience feeling like a good mother.
In the end, I followed the one voice that has helped guide me in the direction that felt the best for me . . . my heart. As parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning children, we agonize over the right choices for our children, sometimes not realizing that our children do not have a choice on what gender they are attracted to or what gender they align with internally. They do have a choice on whether they are going to live authentically, however, but often that choice comes with huge risks of losing everything they love . . . their family, their work, their faith and their community.
My willingness to be open to change, as difficult as it is for me, has catapulted me into a higher level of understanding, acceptance and action. When I decided I wanted to enter the advocacy arena, Aiden told me, “Momma, you are going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable!” What does that mean, I thought, feeling ripples of uneasiness go through my body as I focused on the word uncomfortable. Who would choose to live in discomfort?
Today, I know my success as an advocate has been based on getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Many times I have had to push myself to reach out to someone I didn’t know or email an individual for help. There have been times where I have talked with individuals and a glazed look of disinterest passed over their eyes. I have had to lean into the discomfort when I speak to groups about our story. Initially, I was afraid of being judged. Today, thoughts of rejection are overshadowed by how much I can change the world to be more accepting of my son.
Anytime I have been willing to change, I have gained so much more than I thought I lost. And so as I move from my dream house, I am looking forward to all the wonderful, beautiful and amazing moments that will be created in this new place we will call home. For it truly is not where I live that matters, it is who I take into that home that will really be important. Just like the most important thing about my son is how he shows up in this world. Show your amazing heart and courageous spirit, my son. Momma is standing on the sidelines quietly cheering you on and thinking I am so proud of who you have become.
Marsha Aizumi is an advocate in the LGBT community and the author of the book “Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance.”
Originally published on October 3, 2014