We Need to Be Loud


A person with a transgender flag wrapped around them.Tears danced with my mascara on my cheek; there was no hiding my emotions. If I must scream from the rooftops to protect my transgender son, I will do it every day of the week.

I planned to remain strong while speaking to our town’s Board of Ed on our proposed new transgender policy. No crying allowed, but who says crying isn’t also being strong. I’ve had my son at the hospital twice the last year for suicidal ideation and this momma won’t stand to listen to people fearmonger and argue against our schools being inclusive to the transgender population. 

My heart strings are frail from the past two years of the pandemic and my oldest child coming out as transgender. I had been a bit taken aback by the announcement by my teenager. Did we do something wrong? Is this a phase? What happens now? How do we best support our child?

I had too many questions and was not sure where to turn. Luckily my son already had a therapist he worked with; this pandemic sent us all to the mental health professionals. She was able to give us some guidance, more than our high school was able to. We needed direction; we needed a transgender policy to inform us what the Connecticut state law was. I had no idea.

After my son came out and before we could wrap our heads around our changing world, my son had a mental health crisis and we ended up in the ER. After that we sat on a waitlist for months for a local outpatient mental health placement for teenagers. I didn’t sleep. I made my son keep his bedroom door cracked open.

I winced at family and friends who told me this was a phase. Well, how do I help my child cope with this phase? I needed the nuts and bolts of it.

It felt as though days were weeks. I jumped whenever I saw the high school or my son’s therapist call me during the day, worried he was in crisis again. After he participated in the outpatient program, I felt I could take a breath of fresh air. At that time the schools were returning to full in-person learning and my three kids got back into the school routine.

The outpatient program gave our family real life details on how to help our child and our family. We began weekly family meetings at dinner time, focused on our physical, mental, and spiritual lives and left the outside world out from under our roof. I focused on the five of us and what we could control.

The sun began to shine on my mind as the summer drew near, but the clouds decided to flood back in. This time my son was admitted to the adolescent psychology ward at the hospital. How could I have let this happen again?

The guilt was heavy on my burdened shoulders. Weren’t we doing much better? Mental health has a way of becoming the boss, no matter how much you fight it off. Sometimes medical intervention is needed by a hospital-grade psychiatrist, along with peers going through the same thing you are.

The hospital gave my child a roommate who was going through the same situation as my son. For two nights, they shared a room and many conversations about life as transgender boys. They haven’t talked since (hospital policy), but that was enough for my son.

He wasn’t alone. We are not alone. We may struggle internally and feel lonely, ashamed to speak out, not wanting to draw too much attention to ourselves, but the truth is we need to be loud. Loud and proud and stand up for ourselves and our children.

Speaking at our Board of Ed meeting supporting our transgender youth was the first time I announced to the world that I have a transgender son. I didn’t feel ashamed. I felt empowered and less alone. Parents came to me; they were thankful not to be alone and thankful their children had allies. Crying in front of a roomful of people, some telling you it is disgusting to give rights to transgender child, is nothing short of strength. Mascara tears unite.

Janice P. is an at-home mom in Monroe with her three kids (16, 14, 10) and numerous pets. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Justin, for over 20 years. Their parenting adventures include having autistic kids and a transgender son. Janice and Justin have lived in many states, settling in Connecticut 10 years ago, where they met when they were children. Janice is a nature buff who prefers to be outdoors and frequently drags her children skiing and hiking and tortures them with the beach. She loves traveling (especially to Disney) and writing and is always working on a future novel. 


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