“Supporting my Transgender Loved One”, a guest post by Annabelle Pardo

My journey began four years ago when our smart, introverted child, took on an unrecognizable attitude. My child had recently turned 15, so my husband and I assumed that she was simply showing the “symptoms” of adolescence.  Nevertheless, we were still very worried and wanted to help our child.

We had noticed shifts — more isolated, even sad.  We observed changes in how she presented herself to the world —  a short hair cut, more masculine attire.  We began to wonder if perhaps our child was lesbian and didn’t know how to tell us.

One night, not knowing what else to do, my husband simply asked our child if she identified as lesbian, and she said yes.  Now that our child was out, we thought the behavior would improve, but the depression got worse.

We were scared, and we didn’t understand.  We found a therapist who told us after several sessions that our child had something to share with us when they were ready.  It wasn’t long before our child left us a letter under our bedroom door.

The letter said that, after much thought and analysis, our child was ready to accept that he identified not as a girl, but rather as a boy. At first, I was shocked.  I kept asking him if he was sure. Then I remembered that my child was never easily influenced and had always known what he wanted. I knew that he had done the research, and that he had no doubt about who he was.

As my husband and I supported our child with his transition, we worried a lot about bullying from classmates and the community in general. We also were not sure how to explain the transition to my mother. Would he find acceptance and support in our Hispanic community, at school, and within our family?

Our worries brought us to PFLAG Charlotte, a nonprofit organization that supports families, allies and LGBTQ individuals. We found understanding and advice in the peer support groups offered by PFLAG Charlotte. They helped us find affirming healthcare providers for transgender individuals. They even offered Spanish-language publications for my mother. As someone who plays a prominent role in my child’s life, it was important that she have her own resources.

PFLAG Charlotte guided us through the most complicated period of our lives. I am committed to giving back to the organization, and we are working to increase PFLAG resources for communities of color in Charlotte.

My son has overcome enormous challenges in order to be true to who he is: a happy, brilliant 18 year old who earned a full scholarship to an excellent university.

I didn’t end up having the daughter I anticipated, but I have a son who is full of all the traits I’ve admired since he was a child. PFLAG envisions a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued and affirmed – inclusive of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. With the help of PFLAG Charlotte, I believe this vision will come true.