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  • Jun 11, 2021

From the Heart - Being Transgender

What's it like raising a transgender child and being one? Find out in this powerful story told from both perspectives.

Submitted by Moishe Ragieme, MSN-ED, RN

This story is based on a patient conversation. The family wants to share their story and it is printed with their permission. People's names were changed to protect their privacy.

Leslie, the oldest of six children, was raised Catholic. Her first marriage, at the age of 19, produced one child, but ended in divorce. She later married another man and had a second child, Alphonso, and she delivered Aaron fourteen months later -- a most beautiful little girl.

Her kids grew up like other children. Aaron played basketball and Alphonso was an introvert -- he loved his computer. After separating from her second husband and creating a comfortable home environment, Leslie questioned Alphonso's sexuality, telling him "it was fine whatever he wanted." Alphonso came out when he was 18 years old.

The kids had good school years. Aaron was the "tomboy" of the bunch. She did not want to wear dresses. Leslie always wanted a daughter, but Aaron wasn't allowing her feminine side to come out. Aaron wore t-shirts and jeans, sweat suits, and sports gear rather than anything feminine. As she grew older, loose tops ensured developing breasts were hidden.

When the family was out to dinner one night, Alphonso turned to Leslie and said, "There goes your little girl." When Aaron was younger, she had a boyfriend and Leslie wasn't exactly sure what Alphonso was talking about. As they walked to the car, Leslie turned to Aaron and asked, "Do you want to be a boy?" Aaron had already done a lot of research about transitioning when he answered "yes" to his mother.

"I was fine with the transitioning process, but I was concerned about the health issues with regard to using male hormones," explained Leslie. "I was not sure if Aaron was going to save his eggs before he started using testosterone. This could be a problem if he wanted to harvest some of the eggs after having been on testosterone for some time. I did want grandchildren, but I also want my children to be happy. That was more important to me. Parents need to accept their children no matter what they choose to do about dating, their body, their job, and their life."

"My biggest issue was that I kept calling my trans child 'she' by mistake," added Leslie. "I was trying to be supportive and use the proper pronouns he wanted to hear. His biggest concern at first was that we fully accept him as a male. That was not difficult at all, and his brothers were good about that too."

Aaron joined the conversation to speak about what it's like to receive healthcare as a trans man.

"There have been a couple of issues that bothered me during and since my transition," Aaron stated. "The biggest is that the medical community still has issues with seeing a man or a woman, but not seeing all the physical parts that are associated with those genders. I am a man and yes, I have had top surgery, but I still have a uterus and I am on male hormones. I need to be followed by a gynecologist, a primary doctor, and a doctor who understands the needs of trans people. I do not need to walk in the doctor's office and have the staff look at me as if something is wrong with me. There is nothing wrong. I choose to live my life as a man. I want to be seen as a man who has transitioned but may need a specialist for some of my medical needs. I am not an anomaly; I am a human being who is living his truth. I went to an appointment and had a difficult time as the front office staff did not know what to call me. Really? Call me Aaron, and welcome me to the office, and tell me the doctor will be with me shortly. That's it. What do you want to be called? Obviously, your name, your identified sex, and your chosen pronouns. No patient should worry that they will not be accepted as they are."

"My biggest problem was not so much my sex, as I look and pass as a male -- because I am a male," added Aaron. "My living issue is the color of my skin. Being an African American male is more of a problem for our society than the fact that I am trans. Because I look and act male, it is not the gender issue. I got a job, and I am a male at my job, because I pass as a male, because that is what I am. I have revealed my truth to close friends, but having people look at me and having issues with me because I am Black is more of an issue at this time. People need to be supportive of all races and all genders."

While Aaron had relationships with people identifying as male and others as female, he considers himself pansexual. He is not straight or gay or non-binary. Instead, he looks to the inward part of a person to determine what attracts him to that individual.

"It's not the genitals that make the person, but their heart and mind," Aaron said.

Note from Moishe Ragieme, MSN-ED, RN, West 1 Unit Manager, Everett Hospital:
I want to give an enormous thank you to Leslie and her son, Aaron, for their time and for their willingness to provide the medical community, and the general public, with their story of having a trans child and how to best support them. Aaron's experiences helped me improve my own understanding of trans people. It is very important that as human beings, we learn to support each other, including the LGBTQ+ community. Aaron's bravery and his truth are exactly what we need to hear to stop the missteps and transphobia that we often make in the medical community, and in our public lives. There's no reason for shaming or ridiculing LGBTQ+ people. Instead, let's learn to understand, to support their life and find ways to help them with their struggles. Our skin, our heritage, our languages, our genders, our religions, our sexual identity, our beliefs, our socioeconomic status, and our political views must not deter anyone from being accepted fully as the person they are and choose to be. Let's all try to look within and see what things we can do to improve the way we treat each other.

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