When I began speaking publicly about our story it was because we were already “outed” in our school district after enrolling Kai in kindergarten. The superintendent was talking to the media about trans kids and taking bible scriptures out of context and hurling them like they are a weapon. He also received accolades from Tx leaders including Lt Gov Dan Patrick and later testified in favor of bathroom bills. Kai was miserable at school being purposefully misgendered and segregated from the restrooms her peers were using.
This was on the heels of the children and I escaping an abusive home and going through the legal system of protective orders and relocation as well as attending college after having been a high school dropout. All of this happening simultaneously to multiple family members attacking us and those bonds being forever severed. Close friends giving unsolicited, hurtful advice that ended some long-time relationships. Many close personal relationships ended a little more quietly by way of no longer answering my calls or pretending they didn’t see me when we walked past each other at church or the grocery store. I was also being verbally assaulted in community chat groups and embarrassed by harassment at local shopping centers.
Life was a whirlwind of negativity and pain for me for a few years. I was literally at the lowest point of my life and questioning everything about myself as a person.
I will always remember the way I felt when one particular interview came out. It had kind and encouraging things written about me and my family. I felt just a little better about myself for a moment and then it happened. A respected activist in the community sent me a long message about how I needed media training and that other moms in the community who had been doing this a long time were offended by the way I present my story. I was told that I needed to pull back on sounding like I am the only Christian parent of a trans kid.
Something in me finally broke that day. It was the only time in my life I ever had the thought that the world would be a better place without me in it. I had decided I would stop taking interviews and I began believing what this respected community leader wrote to me that day. Other articles came out shortly after. These were from earlier interviews but with each one this person wrote me notes criticizing the way I presented my journey of being the mom of a trans kid to the point of furthering my questioning of whether I was capable of being a good mom. I wondered how long I could withstand being attacked from the inside of the only community I had left. This person’s relentless unsolicited criticism almost killed me, literally.
At this moment writing this, I am not totally sure how I made it through. I know that the God that I serve and the scriptures I have read so many times for comfort in my life would come to me and keep me holding on just one more day, and another day, and another… I know that I am here because of my faith. I kept going because I believe it is the right thing to do. I believe my family has a calling. Noone else needs to believe it. Only me.
I decided to write this now because I want to encourage you to give grace to people and remind each of us that the world has enough critics already. Zig Ziglar’s famous quote, “some people find fault like there is a reward for it” is exactly right. I may not know your calling in life, but I know being responsible for a person reaching breaking point is not it.
I hope that you never let the critics stop you. I hope you tell your story your way. I believe every movement needs unique perspectives and storytellers. I believe our diversity is our strongest asset.
I’ve recently shared with y’all that the kids and I stayed at a shelter (The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Inc.) when I left an abusive marriage. Well, I also needed help with transportation. CARS BY GRACE gave me a car to start college and when I received my tax return I was able to ask them “What can I buy for $3k?” I returned the car I’d been driving so they could give it to the next person. I drove my Kia Sedona minivan for 7 years and at >200k miles I called them again… this time I bought a vehicle (Kia Sportage) and told them I’d like to donate my minivan back to the ministry that helped my family. Today the transport truck came to pick up the minivan to take her to CARS so they can bless another family and help them accomplish their goals. I sent the key still on the keychain it came with… that I’ve kept for 7 years. Not ganna lie. I’ve cried some tears today when I watched the truck drive away with her. I was thinking of the goodness of my God and the people who truly serve him. I cried some more thinking of how faithful that minivan has been and what it meant to my family and said a prayer for the family that needs her.
This is me. 2015. 7 years ago I was preparing to deliver the commencement speech to my graduating class. Before this day I had a 9th grade education, 7 children, and a lifetime of abuse and trauma. When I started college I was the least likely to succeed. My kids and I had been hiding in a homeless shelter for Domestic Violence survivors. I had 4 young children. Two were toddlers. One was still nursing. I know most of y’all had no idea. Well, there’s so much more to my journey. I’ll share more with y’all when I’m ready.
In 2017 we were presented with an award for our part in this civil rights movement. I am most thankful that Kai is learning so early in life what it means to be part of the solution and stand up for herself.
A 2015 memory from my retired Facebook page. I used to post to a small group of friends was than a ten or so)… I hadn’t made the pronoun shift as you can tell, but I believe it’s important to share the whole journey.
This picture of 3 yr old Kai hangs on my bulletin board. As with most photos of Kai before I understood and my heart changed, I couldn’t share it on social media with the rest of the photos from our family photo session. No matter how many filter apps or how much cropping… No matter the masculine clothes or the haircut… as I always say, Kai has always been Kai. I am the one in this photo who transitioned.