By Colin Burrowes
It was fourth day of April in 2000. It might have been day drenched in April showers, but I’m not sure, my wife and I were in a sterile hospital environment. I was trying my best to stay by her side but the staff seemed surprised by the speed of the labour. My wife was overdue and labour had to be induced.
When I was able to see my youngest child, I saw an infant that had all the physical attributes of a baby girl. I told my wife and she could not believe it; she was sure we would have another boy. It turns out we did.
Growing up, our youngest child did not fit in with girls. I’m not even sure I would use the term tomboy to describe his behaviour. He did not go out of his way to act like a boy. He is by no means a macho person, but he never seemed comfortable doing things other girls did, by the age of eight or nine. Even before that he never seemed comfortable in dresses, but I do recall a Disney princess bedsheet set when he was young.
This week I was covering the Trans Day of Remembrance events that Kincardine Pride and PFLAG Kincardine put on, and listening to the parents of trans youth hit home with me. Three months ago, my youngest child left for university where he came out as trans. It did not surprise my wife or I. We had suspicions that he might be gay, trans, or non-binary because androgynous might have been the best way to describe him in his teenage years.
I’m not sure about my wife, but I was surprised to be hit by the grieving period I’ve heard parents of transgender people talk about. I think I’m pretty open-minded about these things. I grew up with a gay brother and I’ve met many LGBTQ+ in my travels from coast to coast. I guess the grieving process I’m going through is because I am really close to my son. We have all kinds of strange little in-jokes we share. Before he came out, my mother-in-law was constantly saying I had a daddy’s girl. I guess she can’t say that anymore. Well she can, but it probably won’t go over so well. It’s time to move on.
The thing about it is, nothing has changed that way. He’s still much the same kid, maybe a little more outgoing from what I’ve noticed, and we still have the same silly in-jokes. I don’t see him as much now, after dropping out of university he moved to Waterloo, but I’ll bet that we’ll still have the same binge-watching marathons of tv shows when he’s home for a visit, and he’ll continue to make me send updates on the pets we have at home.
I know for Elijah (my wife and I both love that name he chose) this is just the beginning of many changes in his life, but we’re there for him. I was writing my article about the Trans Day of Remembrance events and a voice in my head was saying, “please don’t let my son become one of those sad statistics tallying up victims of violence against trans people” and a second, louder voice said, “there seems to be a lot of great supportive people in towns like Kincardine. My son will have an excellent life.”
I know not everyone agrees with each other and LGBTQ+ issues can be polarizing, but I think it’s a really great thing to see events that are supportive of the LGBTQ+ community happening more often, in small towns.
By Colin Burrowes