Where Oh Where Did My Little Blog Go?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Beauty of a "smile"...

I grew up in a small town. We had one local mall which, being a teenage girl, I "frequented" with my friends. My thoughts lately have been drawn to an individual who also "frequented" that shopping center. She was an extremely gifted artist who spent most of her days on a bench in the mall with her chalks and canvas... drawing, etching, and interpreting the world around her. The aspect of her life that drew the most attention wasn't the fact that she spent more time in the mall than I did (which was truly an accomplishment), or the fact that she was an amazing and gifted artist. The most fascinating part about her at the time was the fact that she was quite evidently a biological male. She was very tall and broad in stature, and tried to conceal her budding beard with heavy make-up. She had long hair and frequently wore hats (perhaps - in part - to mask her insecurities or possibly block the incessant stares from passers-by). She always wore dresses with thick tights. I distinctly remember the dresses because they looked like they had come directly from my grandmother's closet. I remember how my girlfriends and I used to giggle about something that we couldn't possibly understand or remotely relate to at the time... both her wardrobe, and her cross-gender manner of expression. I can still remember some of the comments that were made... "Is that a she or a him?" It quickly became a joke and soon she had earned the nicname, "Shim".

Looking back now, what stands out in my mind isn't what we saw when we looked at her... it's all of the things that we failed to truly "see". I was blessed with an experience in my life that taught me this profound principle...

I had scarcely graduated high school and was faced with the daunting task of finding something constructive to do with my time. A job seemed like an obvious solution, so I scavenged the classified ads in the newspaper in an effort to find some direction for my newfound freedom. There were all sorts of listings for new graduates, but my eyes immediately settled on an opportunity for training as a Certified Nursing Assistant offered by a local convalescent center. I responded to the ad and within days I was scheduled for an interview. I didn’t really know what to expect. I had worked through high school at the local Frosty Freeze, but in a town where literally everybody knows one another ~ job interviews are an unnecessary formality.

I dressed up in preparation for the interview and naively made my way across town to the advertised location. Very little could have prepared me for the unique world that existed beyond those doors or for the impact that decision would soon have on my life. I pulled the heavy door open and stepped into the front lobby. An unpleasant odor immediately caught me by surprise. I was unsure of the source, but absolutely positive it was a discovery I didn’t want to make. The walls were a neutral beige color and the front lobby was tastefully decorated. Just beyond the lobby was a hall that led to the residential area.

I immediately noticed a man wandering down the hall wearing flannel boxer shorts and white socks. He wore his shoes over his hands like boxing gloves and if anybody walked too close, he would attempt to clobber them. For the most part, people seemed familiar with the behavior, and diverted to a generous radius around him. Another man and woman aimlessly wandered the hall hand in hand, repeatedly asking one another outlandish questions. Neither one had any answers to offer the other, but they seemed to stick together in a blissful state of confusion.

The secretary interrupted my observation, took my name, and left the room to announce my arrival. Meanwhile, I took a seat near a little old lady who was hunched over in a chair, peacefully resting in the lobby. Her hair was glossy white and her head bobbed with delight as she struggled to look at me through the thick glasses that grossly magnified her eyes. She smiled, and spoke very loud to compensate for an apparent hearing deficit,

“What’s your name?!” she asked.

“Christina” I said.

“Where ya’ from?!” she inquired.

“Montana” I replied.

She perked right up, “I lived in Montana years ago… my husband worked in a mine out there!”

“What part?”

I looked over to observe her response but as quickly as I had asked the question, she had nodded off to sleep. I wondered if she was narcoleptic and decided it would be best to let her rest. I selected a magazine from the coffee table and began to leaf through the pages. Moments later she awoke, interrupting the silence with a loud inquiry,

“What’s your name?!”


“Where ya’ from?!”


“I lived in Montana once… my husband worked in a mine out there!”

For a moment I sat confused, wondering if I had stepped into a geriatric episode of the twilight zone. Before I could figure it out, the secretary returned and escorted me to the nurse administrator’s office. The interview went well and I was immediately offered the position. Something felt right about the opportunity so I readily accepted. As I passed through the lobby on my way out the door, my new friend awoke once again,

“Hey! What’s your name?!”

I didn’t want to be rude so I decided to play along,

“Where ya’ from?!”


“I’ve never been to France…”

I was in a hurry and decided to cut the conversation short. Besides, I was fairly certain there would be other opportunities to set the record straight.
In the weeks that followed, I attended classes where I learned the clinical aspects of the job and shadowed a preceptor who demonstrated the processes and procedures associated with various physical care requirements. After a few short weeks, I had completed the training and was scheduled to work independently.

I showed up for my first shift and waited for my patient assignment. It wasn’t long before I noticed that one patient, in particular, seemed to be the topic of considerable debate. Her name was Lavelle. Every day the assistive staff would show up early and clamor over one another to avoid being assigned to her care. The controversy stirred some curiosity and I decided to personally explore the root of the problem so I showed up early for work the next day. When the bidding began, I volunteered to take the assignment. An astonished silence fell over the group and the look of comedic apprehension was obvious on the faces of my co-workers. A moment passed before the silence was broken by an outburst of laughter. Assigning a new C.N.A. to Lavelle’s care was the equivalent of throwing a tea cup Chihuahua to the mercy of a ravenous Pit-bull. Eager to avoid the “rotten egg”, they readily agreed to the request.

I entered the room expecting to find a monster, and there lay a frail little old woman. She was considerably debilitated, suffering from an apparent musculoskeletal condition that caused significant immobility. Her frizzy brown hair framed the grimace on her stern face, and a large chip in her front tooth created a whistle when she barked commands. “Who are you?” she demanded with a hint of disdain. I introduced myself and explained that I was new. She rolled her eyes, disgusted by the notion of being assigned to a rookie. So it began… the hours that followed would qualify as an initiation to say the least. I struggled through the night in an effort to meet her repetitive demands for assistance. Several co-workers smirked with satisfaction as I wore a path in the tile. Back and forth, I scurried in a vigilant effort to keep up with her expectations. By the end of the night I was completely exhausted. I clocked out and made my way back to her room. I poked my head through the door, “Good night, Lavelle, it was good to meet you. I’ll see you smile tomorrow.” The grimace on her face converted to a stoic expression of utter rebellion. She didn’t say a word, but in the days that followed her actions revealed a relentless determination to run me off. Lavelle had finally met her match. I was equally determined not to give her the satisfaction, and an unspoken challenge ensued.

Each day I would show up and request to be assigned to her care, and each night she did her best to discourage me. I tried everything to make a difference in her attitude. I told jokes and shared humorous stories. Most days I left the facility feeling like a complete fool, but my commitment to the cause was unwavering. At the end of each shift I’d pop my head through the door and remind her of my obnoxious objective, “Goodnight Lavelle, I’ll see you smile tomorrow.” Every night she’d look at me, shake her head, and remain silent.

Several weeks had passed and I had become discouraged in my resolve. I had decided to give it one more try before submitting to her stubbornness. I approached her room with considerable apprehension. As I entered, I noticed something brown oozing from her ear and running down the side of her face. I panicked, unsure of the source,
“Lavelle! Are you okay?”


Convinced that her hearing had been damaged, I rushed to the bedside for a closer look. I noticed something metallic saturated in brown drainage, protruding from her ear canal. I examined it for a moment before realizing the source of the problem. I started to laugh and within moments was hysterical and struggling to regain composure. Lavelle watched with a shocked expression, trying to figure out what the commotion was all about. When I had finally gotten my laughter under control, I wiped the tears from my eyes and asked, “Lavelle, sweetie, whatcha got in your ear?”

She snapped, “It’s my hearin’ aid!”

I started to laugh again, “I don’t think so...”

She reached up with her hand and removed the sticky ball of foil from her outer ear. By this time, I was back in hysterics, overcome with laughter. She looked closely at the object, then began to chuckle with the realization of what she had done. I collapsed onto the bed beside her and we lay there for several minutes giggling over the obvious oversight.

Lavelle was a chocoholic and kept a candy jar full of Hershey’s kisses at the bedside. Her son would dutifully refill the jar each day during their afternoon visit. Apparently, she had mistaken one of the kisses for her hearing aid. By the time I made my rounds, it had completely melted and the chocolate was oozing from her ear.

The incident was a huge breakthrough for both of us. We resigned our challenge to a stalemate. In the days that followed, she and I grew to be quite close. If she attempted to ignore me I would just say, “Did you hear me Lavelle? Maybe you need to clean the rest of that chocolate out of your ears.” It was guaranteed to bring a smile to her face. Before long, she familiarized herself with my schedule and looked forward to my workdays. When I was off, sometimes I’d stop by just to sit and visit. Not long after that, I could elicit a smile by merely walking in the room. If Lavelle was being difficult and I wasn’t working, I’d receive a call at home, “Can you please talk to her?”

Several months had passed since Lavelle and I first met and I was at home when I received the call. Lavelle had passed away in her sleep. I remember feeling the intense loss of a dear friend. I returned to work a couple of days later. Her son, John, was sitting in the empty room, sorting through her things. I stood in the doorway. “You know,” he said, “She really did love you.” I sat down beside him, “I know - I really loved her too.” I put my arm around his shoulder while we sat there on her bed and absorbed the moment. He took my hand and placed some kisses in my palm, then cradled it closed. Neither of us said a word… it wasn’t necessary. We just looked at each other and communicated from the heart.

Before he left, he invited me to attend her funeral and I graciously accepted the invitation. The following Saturday I showed up at the church and scavenged the crowded parking lot for an empty space. I walked through the front door and had scarcely taken off my coat when John rushed over to welcome me, “I want you to meet the family.” I was overwhelmed by the introduction to all of the important people in Lavelle’s life. I met children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins, siblings, and numerous family friends. “You have to sign the guestbook,” he insisted. He walked over by the casket, picked it up, and brought it back to me.

I sat down and signed my name, then handed it back. John took the pen from my hand, then beside my signature he drew a happy face and wrote, “The one who made her smile.” I struggled to contain my emotion. I looked over at Lavelle who finally seemed to be at peace. I hardly recognized her. She was beautifully dressed with a string of pearls around her neck. Her hair, once frizzy, was now softly curled around her face. She looked absolutely beautiful.

I learned so much as I sat there that day and listened to the accomplishments and successes of her life. She was a hard working and sensible woman who had successfully raised several children. As the matriarch of her family, she was committed to taking care of those around her. She had a love and appreciation for the outdoors and took pride in yard work and gardening. She had devoted her time and talents to serving others, both in her church and community.

As I sat and listened to all the amazing attributes of this remarkable woman, the picture came into focus. Of all the challenges in her life, her greatest trial settled on the feelings of uselessness that accompanied being trapped in a body that could no longer meet her expectations for life. Her illness forced her into a state of total helplessness that she irrefutably despised.

I grew to love Lavelle during her greatest challenge and in retrospect, a mere snapshot in time. I wondered how those who never took the time to look beyond the circumstances that adversely affected her life would have responded to her outside of those influences.

There is a profound moral to the story. As I reflect on my experiences with Lavelle, I can't help but think about the woman from the mall. I am reminded of the importance of every relationship in life... from our closest friends, to the seemingly insignificant casual acquaintances and I have come to realize something profound...

Like a photo album, life is composed of a series of “snapshots”. Each experience captures a portion of our existence. Some of the images are good and some are bad, but all of them, once pieced together, become life. My time with Lavelle was based on a mere snapshot of her mortality. Once I made the determination to look beyond that isolated image in time and embrace the entire “album” of her existence, I was able to truly understand my friend.

Lavelle taught me something valuable about people and relationships. She taught me not to judge others by the “snapshots” in life...

Take time to love the spiteful, be generous with the selfish, offer kindness to the cruel, lend understanding to the critic, and forgive the unforgivable. When we take time to look beyond isolated images in life, spiritual truths will finally come into focus.

Somewhere in the world a guestbook, dedicated to the life of someone I love, is neatly tucked away. Inside is a tender reminder of one of the most treasured lessons of my life... neatly noted, with a happy face illustration.

I have been blessed - in a very personal way - with an invaluable opportunity to look beyond that faded "snapshot" of the woman from the mall. My child suffers the same challenges everyday. She faces them with optimism and hope, and the belief that those who cross her path in life will care enough to turn the page, and open their hearts to all of the beautiful qualities and attributes that lie beyond the fleeting "snapshots" of her existence.

The world is full of God's children (old and young), many of whom suffer in bodies that cannot meet their expectations for life. Some are like Cammie or the woman from the mall, while others are like Lavelle - but all of them are struggling with profound mortal obstacles - with a basic need for understanding, love, and acceptance. I believe in the good of humanity... I believe that those who take the time to "see", will be blessed by the beauty of a "smile".

Monday, July 6, 2009

The most beautiful butterfly!

When Cameron was little, as most kids do, she quoted various scenes in her favorite movies. After she watched A Bug's Life... she ran around the house doing her best to imitate the scene where Heimlich, the Caterpillar, turns into a "beautiful butterfly". She would imitate the character, lower her voice, and say... "I'm finished! I'm the most beautiful butterfly!" It was hilarious... and we all used to laugh...

When I watch the clip of this Disney movie, I can identify a parallel in my child's life. Throughout the film, Heimlich talks with great anticipation about the day he will become a butterfly. Although, his transformation was hardly significant to those around him, he felt beautiful. He had found his wings, but needed a little help "getting off the ground". It's interesting how a children's cartoon can perfectly exemplify Cammie's experience. Physically, nothing has changed about Cammie except for the pronouns we use and the clothes she wears. Emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically - however - things are profoundly different...

When we first decided to support Cameron and share the news with those closest to us, we received a variety of responses and I felt my confidence waiver with each "nay sayer" that I encountered.

From the time I was a little girl, my parents had repeatedly expressed their frustration by saying, "a thousand people can think you're wonderful, Christina... but if one person doesn't approve of you, it rocks your world."

We like to believe that as we grow older, we change in profound ways... but it seems in adulthood, I have become a physically mature version of the same little girl, with the same fears and insecurities. I knew what it would take for Cammie to find peace and happiness but I wanted everyone around me to share my perspective, understand our challenge, and support my decisions. I struggled each day with those who didn't approve... digging deep and sifting through my psychological, spiritual, and emotional reserve for any scrap of strength or wisdom that could get me through. I've always had an ambitious "change the world" mentality but when faced with the challenge to pioneer a cause, I felt my confidence wane and a million doubts and "what ifs" haunted my mind.

My dad came for a visit. Naturally, he had a lot of questions. I did my best to answer them but found myself trying to be convincing - rather than informative. I was overcompensating for my own insecurities. There were times when I would step outside of the situation and try to catch a glimpse of the view from the outside. I would find myself doubting our reality with a variety of invasive thoughts, "this is absolutely nuts! What are you doing? You must be crazy!" I think that Cameron sensed my insecurity and was privy to many of the conversations that I was having with my father. She began to follow me around the house. Everywhere I went, I had a Shadow. If I went to the bathroom and ran out of toilet paper, I was in luck because I had a personal bathroom attendant. At one point my dad made the comment that attention can be very addictive and questioned whether or not I had considered that Cameron's actions might be symptomatic of a greater need for attention. My dad has always been a trusted friend, confidant, and advisor. With Cammie's recent onset of separation anxiety, I felt myself entertaining the possibility that this might, in fact, be a ploy for attention.

It all came to a head when my father and I made plans to run a couple of errands. Cameron wanted to come and when I told her that she wasn't invited... that dad and I needed some time to talk in private, she began to panic - verbalizing her objections to being left behind. I was feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and confused by her behavior. I turned around and shouted, "Why do you have to go with me everywhere I go?! Why do you have to have my undivided attention?! Is this why you act like a girl.... because you want my attention?!"

The room fell silent. She didn't have to say a word... I could have kicked her in the gut and it wouldn't have had more of an impact. She was evidently devastated. Her eyes welled up with tears, she solemnly shook her head in denial, and quietly headed down the hall. I took a moment to calm down before talking to her. I found her in my bed crying with the covers pulled up over her head. I apologized and we began to talk. I asked her why she was so clingy... why she was following me around. Her response about broke my heart. In that moment, I caught a glimpse of her world. She said, "If something happens to you then I want to die too. I don't want anything to happen to you... I don't want to be alone." Her fears were so intense. I realized that, although she was a child - she knew that I was her strongest advocate and supporter. She couldn't bare to consider what her life would be like without that support... she could sense the emotional negativity of others impacted by the situation and realized that if I weren't arorund, she would - once again - find herself completely isolated. I knew that no matter how difficult this challenge was for me, nothing could compare to what she was experiencing. I reassured her that her Heavenly Father loved her very much and that he knew we needed each other. I told her that he would take care of us and everything would be okay. I felt ashamed for questioning what I knew to be true about my child.

I was blessed with the spiritual reassurance that we were doing the right thing a few days later. The day had come to take Cammie shopping for her new wardrobe. Emotionally, I had been dreading this day for weeks... grieving the loss of my son. Cammie put on one of her favorite outfits, I fixed her hair in a cute little girl's style, and we headed out shopping. It was her "coming out" day - the first time that she had gone out in public as a girl. As the day progressed, I noticed Cammie's personality blossom. No longer plagued with how little boys are socially expected to act and behave, Cammie was finally free to be herself. Her new found independence was extremely liberating. she was bubbly, funny, and outgoing. There wasn't a moment when I looked at her that I didn't find a bright smile on her face. She seemed so radiant, she practically glowed. By the end of the day, I was having more fun than I had ever experienced with her. We were laughing and joking. People were telling me how cute she was, and with every compliment her confidence soared. It was a huge shift from the depressed, anxious, despondent child that I had been worrying about for years.

That night, after we returned home, I went in my room closed the door and cried. This had become a ritual in the weeks leading up to Cammie's transition. I would do my best to encourage and reassure her that everything would be okay... that we could handle anything together... that she wasn't alone. Once she felt comforted and at peace - I would go in my room, close the door, and break down in tears... overcome with my own worries and fears. For the first time, this routine brought tears of joy. Cammie was truly happy. I knew it was going to be tough and there would be many hurdles to overcome, but somehow I knew that she would be okay... as long as she could be true to herself. It was obvious that she had finally "found her wings" and I was committed to do everything I could to help her "get off the ground."

Prelude to a Metamorphasis...

Cameron's cross-gender preferences began from the moment she was old enough to express gender-specific interests. I've always been a bit of a non-conformist when it comes to my view of the world, so the decision to embrace Cammie's gender variant interests was easy, even though - at times - the follow-through has been heart-wrenching. I wanted to raise a child with a strong sense of SELF... not a strong sense of "who the hell am I supposed to be?" Cameron transitioned this summer (at her own choosing) because we moved to a new community. I would have supported Cameron through an earlier transition (we had discussed it), but Cameron is very bright and self-preserving... she has always been "in tune" with the expectations of a rigid sexually binary society. My perspective has always been that nobody knows what it's like to be Cammie, except her, so I have afforded her some control over her situation. I think the most valuable aspect of parenting isn't found in what we teach our children... but rather lies in what we allow our children to teach us.

Facing Cameron's transition, was an extremely difficult process for me and it stirred up some unexpected emotions. I found myself grieving as I anticipated the loss of my son - which brought with it the reality that I would never have a daughter-in-law and the greater loss, no biological grandchildren. In prior discussions, Cameron was repulsed by the prospect of dating or marrying a woman. Consistent with a female gender identity, Cameron was interested in boys. Through this process, I realized that there is a huge difference between considering a possibility and embracing a reality. Truly acknowledging and accepting Cammie's gender identity meant embracing the reality that biological children would never be a possibility for her. This was not only difficult for me, but has been quite upsetting for Cammie. She continues to hold onto the notion that she has ovaries. She sees herself carrying and mothering children, not "fathering" children. I have explained that she has a "daddy's" body and can have babies with a woman, but that she will never be able to get pregnant or give birth to her own children. For her, this is the most emotionally devastating aspect of being transgender. She has a maternal instinct, and inasmuch sees herself "mothering" children. She continues to scavenge for possibilities and frequently asks questions, "Mom... how do they know I don't have eggs when nobody has ever checked. Couldn't I have girl parts inside?" When I share the bleak reality of her situation, her eyes well up with tears and the emotional devastation is palpable. Cameron has adamantly asserted that having children with a woman is not an option. I can't imagine what it must be like for her... It's the equivalent of telling someone who's sexual orientation is straight that they would have to enter into a homosexual relationship to have a family.

Then there were other areas that intensified my grief. She could dress like a girl, but no matter how convicted she felt about her gender identity... it was obvious that she would experience puberty as a male. She had already approached me, distraught because she had begun to experience erections. The last thing that any girl wants is a penis... let alone, one that frequently and unexpectedly announces it's presence. She has been horrified by these experiences and had asked if there was anything that I could do to "make it stop". She has an older brother who is experiencing puberty, and watching him go through puberty panics her... it's a daily reminder that her body is going to "deform" in ways that she cannot bear to consider. She frequently experiences bouts of anxiety over impending voice changes, facial hair, and other aspects of masculinization. I knew that if I didn't educate myself and advocate for her best interests, her depression and anxiety would intensify. In my heart, I knew that she would become a statistic. She would either become a victim of her own self-loathing or a victim of a hate crime. The horrific thoughts associated with the dangers presented by the reality of her circumstance stabbed at my mind... She's going to be perceived as a freak by society... how devastating for her - to be so misunderstood - to be the person on the sidewalk that women, out for a walk with their children, cross the street to avoid. She's going to be perceived as a sexual deviant, a burly man in a skirt with make-up plastered over the top of a five o'clock shadow... the perfect target for ignorance and hate. I felt my own depression mount. I didn't want to get out of bed... face my job... my family... the world.

I knew that I needed to fight the depression that was mounting in my soul. I continued to pray about the situation and felt that the only way that I would feel better is to fight for my child's happiness... to find the answers. "There's got to be a better way," I thought, "There has to be a solution". I began to research treatment options for transgender children. It wasn't easy in the beginning but one door led to another door, which led to another. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by a wealth of information and resources. I learned that the nationally recommended plan of care for transgender children (endorsed by endocrine experts world-wide) was pubertal suppression. I learned that Cameron could take hormone blockers which would prevent the masuclinization of her body and give her time to mature emotionally so that she could make the decisions that were right for her. I felt comforted and at peace. I have never felt the Lord's presence in my life more profoundly than I did during this difficult time. I knew that - although our challenges seemed fierce - we were not alone. The Lord was my co-pilot and we were navigating our way through the blessings of adversity.

The next step... and probably the most dreaded, was telling family and friends. How do you share this information with the people that are the closest to you? How do you tell everyone that knows your child that your son is really your daughter? I couldn't bear to make one-on-one phone calls, to try to convey ten years of experience in a telephone conversation with each and every soul that had a significant relationship with our family. Emotionally, I was suffering and the thought of repeatedly sharing our experience, trying to justify our decisions to everyone around us, or convince people individually that our course of action was right would require more strength than I had in my arsenal. What if I forget important details? I felt compelled to construct a blog so that I could take my time and tell our story the way that it needed to be told. I made the decision to send an e-mail to friends and family, invite them to the blog, ask for their support and understanding, and provide them with additional resources. I decided that if they loved us, they would make efforts to educate themselves. If it was important to them to understand, they could pray for insight. I wasn't going to "spoon feed" everyone around me. I was willing to "do the shopping, prepare the meal, and even place the plate in front of them... but I wasn't going to feed anyone." I was exhausted and needed to conserve my strength so that I could focus my energy on the needs and well-being of my husband and children.

The letter...

There is so much to tell all of you, and so much to catch you up on. We are facing some big steps with Cameron. I started a blog and would like to invite you to visit us there :
http://cameronsong.blogspot.com If this is the first time that you are hearing about Cameron's challenges, you might benefit from a visit to the blog before continuing to read this letter.

I started the blog so that I could tell our story and help educate our close family and friends about Cameron's history and our direction with her treatment. I am including some articles that will help you to understand our focus with all of this (you will find them attached). I have learned so much over the course of the past couple of months that Cameron has been in therapy. As I may have mentioned to some of you, there are no gender specialists in Birmingham so I have had to go to Atlanta to find anybody qualified to handle Cameron's special needs. It has been a challenge - overcoming one hurdle after another - and a challenge that I know many of you can relate to on some level, so I feel especially comfortable sharing the details of our journey with you.

I've had to jump through several "fiery hoops" to get financial coverage for her treatment in Atlanta since my insurance provider doesn't cover out-of-state therapy. The support and understanding that we have gained through our decision to face this - as opposed to forcing her to be gender obedient, deny her natural instincts, or hide from who she is - has opened my eyes to so many things that should have been obvious all along. We are moving forward with confidence and making some great strides. Please take some time to read the articles that I am forwarding. They will go a long way in catching you up to speed. Also, there is a fantastic book out right now that I am reading called ..."Transgender Child - a handbook for professionals and families". It clears up a lot of misconceptions about trans-gendered children. For too long, transgender has been a dirty word.... followed by a leap to the conclusion that these individuals are mentally "twisted" or sexually deviant. Research (see the study attached) has gone a long way in proving that gender identity is - in fact - biological. There is one very compelling study that proves that transgendered individuals have the identical biological gender identity markers of the gender that they identify with. Interestingly, homosexuals did not show the same variation... proving that gender identity and sexual orientation are distinctly different topics. The only congruency is that both topics are related to sexuality. On that note, heterosexuality is also a topic based on sexuality but societal norms have clearly drawn a distinction between heterosexuals and homosexuals. I am learning how to love and accept my "daughter" for who "she" is and realize that gender identity goes far beyond a strict sexually binary society and our physiological characteristics. Gender identity is biological, but the development of that identity - in rare cases - is inconsistent with physical development.

Anyway, where am I going with all of this rambling??? After a great deal of time spent on my knees in prayer, doing independent research, consulting with experts on this topic, and - most importantly - listening to my child... our family has made a very difficult and fundamental decision. Per Cameron's request, through confirmation received by the power of prayer, and the advice of her counselors - we have chosen to allow her to live her life consistent with her psychological gender identity. This summer Cameron will make an "environmental" transition to living her life as the little girl that she was meant to be, and has always known that she is. It's a huge step for us... a step that has taken ten years to climb. She will eventually begin hormone blocking therapy to prevent the masculinization of her body, (something that has horrified her for years). When she is emotionally mature and can appropriately comprehend the magnitude of her choices, she will have the option to begin feminizing hormone therapy and pursue SRS.

I know that this is a tough pill to swallow. I understand because it's something that I have been struggling with and praying about for years. I feel very blessed to have received divine guidance through answer to prayer. These answers have manifest through the peace and comfort of the spirit. Children born with debilitating physical abnormalities are not expected to "live with them", simply because "God created them that way". If there is one thing that I know to be true... that I have a profound testimony of - above all things - it's the fact that God loves his children and would never expect them to suffer. In fact, it is evident that it causes him great pain. In the midst of the Crucifixion , the Lord could not bare to watch his son suffer... Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? The torment and persecution of his son was more than he could endure. Likewise, this suffering is more than these children and those who love them can endure, as illustrated by a recent research study that demonstrates - 36% of transgendered children attempt suicide by the time they are twenty years old. Recently, two ten year old boys - in different parts of the country - hung themselves in their basements because of the incessant ridicule, rejection, and isolation of a society that cannot understand why they expressed gender variant behavior. My daughter will not be a statistic. I have prayed about this and received an answer that I cannot deny, just as I cannot deny that Christ is my Savior... the answer was simple, but profound... "Love this child... even as I have loved you." The peace and guidance that I have been blessed with throughout this journey has been a gift from the Lord. I love my Father in Heaven and I am thankful for the strength that he has given Cameron... to be patient with me... to teach me... to accept me despite all of my short-comings... and most importantly - to be patient with me as I have come to understand her.

Transgendered conditions are mother nature's genetic variations of sexual identity... much as cleft palate, Downs Syndrome, Autism, Ash burger's Syndrome, etc are the result of abnormal development. This is not - in itself - a psychological condition... but the strict binary sexual society that we live and expect ALL people to conform to does extreme psychological damage to these children and ultimately results in secondary psychological conditions that manifest through anxiety, depression, chronic low self-esteem, and suicidal ideations. I hope that our family will have your support throughout our journey... as we continue to get to know and love our daughter... a little girl who has hid in the shadows of a society and family that has failed to understand her for far too long.

With all of our love,

Christina, Cameron, & the boyz

I learned very quickly that the people closest to the experience struggled the most. I expected the most support from those who loved us the most, and the harshest judgement from those who had the least involvement with our family. What I found was quite the contrary... those closest to us were the most resistant and those with the least at stake, offered the most support. I received an onslaught of e-mails, some were anonymous and some weren't, but the majority attacked my position, questioned my motives, and attempted to "save my soul" from damnation. I was extremely hurt as I came to realize that, with a situation like this, it's best not to have expectations. There is no way to gauge how someone will react. Especially, initially. I realized that those who loved us the most, were the most resistant and would need the most time. Dealing with personal attacks from those that you love requires a great deal of faith and patience. The most important thing that I would come to realize is that they were hurting too. In the meanwhile, I decided to pray for their understanding with the hope that they would make efforts to educate themselves. For the time being, however, my focus needed to be on our family and tending to the needs of all of our children, solidifying relationships, and promoting love and understanding within the walls of our home...

When we shared the news with our children, the two youngest boys were relatively unaffected... oblivious and anxious to squirm their way out of the family conference to go play. Our oldest child made a lighthearted comment that seemed to bring the situation into focus, "Whatever makes Cameron happy... besides, it's not really a surprise mom... I've always known he was a girl." I prompted more thought, asking him how he would feel and react if his friends began to tease him about Cammie's self-expression and gender identity. His response surprised me, "They aren't going to care... I don't know... I mean (then he looked at Cammie who was sitting beside him on the couch)... Cameron, would you want me to beat them up?" I had to smile at the Christlike love and compassion that Caleb demonstrated... at least for Cammie. He wasn't at all concerned about himself, his primary concern was for her well-being. Later on when I sat down alone with Caleb to address the topic in private he said, "To be honest, mom.... I'm feeling a little protective."

I've never been more proud of my children. In that moment I knew that as we faced the challenges that lie ahead, our family would learn some valuable things and grow in beautiful ways...