By Steven and Diana Gardner
We have a bit of news about Sarah to share with you. This is not a secret so feel free to forward this email to whoever you feel will benefit.
For about the past year and a half our relationship with Sarah was extremely challenging. There was a tangible darkness, perhaps not so much in her, but in our relationship with her. She hit some lows that no parent would ever want to see their child go through. One day recently Steve asked her several times if she wanted to be happy, and she wouldn’t answer. We have been overwhelmed with helplessness in trying to figure out how to get her to communicate to us. We won’t go into a lot of details, but we had reason to worry about whether we would one day find her gone, in more than one sense.
Then… a few weeks ago she wrote us a letter that she said was very difficult to write but had to tell us because we’re her parents and she loves us and we deserved to know her for who she is. She is transgender. Not a suicide note, or running away note or any other life-threatening thing (which were all things that we had a small taste of before). But that she has a female’s body with a male’s mind. She’s known for quite a while but has kept it hidden. She thought maybe it would be easier to pretend until she was an adult but it became too hard to keep it down. Sarah has asked to go by the name of Quinn and to use male pronouns when talking about her. From this point on she will begin a transformation of living her life as a male. I know this comes as a shock to all of you, just as it did to us. We will always stand by Quinn’s side and support and love him just as we do Sascha and Apollo. The greatest chance at a happy, healthy life is for Quinn to feel love and support from those that are closest (friends and family). There’s a high rate of suicide, drug use, etc… for those who feel they don’t have support. The life he has ahead of him will definitely not be an easy one but it’ll be much easier than the way he was living before. That’s the thing that gives us the most hope. That we actually have a relationship now. Quinn is reaching out to us again and is happy. What more could a parent want?
Since receiving the letter we have done a lot of research and talked to people who we believed could offer insight. We’ll provide some links for you to read to help you understand. Diana spoke with a close friend who has a family member who has gone through this. Steve spoke with an LDS man who used to be an LDS woman. We spoke with two therapists, one who is a close friend of ours.
We have gone through the stages of grief. There has been sadness, anger, denial, all of it. And let me tell you that the stages of grief don’t just happen once. We are still going through it.The bottom line, though, is we support our child in this. Sarah is now Quinn. We ask that you do the same.The difference in Sarah/Quinn since she came to terms with this, which we noticed weeks before she gave us the letter, has been remarkable.We would be happy to talk to you about this and give you more details of our own process of dealing with this. Seriously, we will be glad to talk about it, because it not only might help you in understanding this situation, it always helps us to be able to confide in someone.
One of the bigger challenges for us was trying to explain this to our youngest son, Apollo. Steve drew upon a lesson he gave in his mission about the plan of salvation. You take one hand and explain that the hand represents who we are in spirit. In this life we are given a body. You then put a glove on your hand to represent the body. While turning the glove around so it doesn’t quite fit right, Steve explained that for some people in this world the body they are given doesn’t match who they are in spirit, and that is what happened for Sarah. We can’t say Apollo got it right away, but he’s no different from the rest of us in that we have to get used to saying “Quinn” and “he” and “him.” The name part is easy. The gender part not so much. Perhaps you would like to share this with your families for FHE.
As parents the most important hope we have for any of our children is for them to grow up to become happy adults. We have loved our life with Sarah and look forward to our continued relationship with Quinn.Thank you for your love and support.
Steve and Diana
Here are some links you might find useful.
The description in this piece about how the process often works is remarkably close to what we experienced. http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/exc_110911.shtml
Steven and Diana Gardner live in Silverdale, Wash. and are the parents of three boys. Diana creates custom cakes and other artwork. Steven is a reporter for the Kitsap Sun newspaper and does a storytelling podcast, the Field of Steve podcast.
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