Interviewer by @pridematters1
This is an amazing journey of not only a trans male, but his wonderful supportive mother and family too. It shows us all the courage and support of everyone who is effected in some way, showing support is essential to the people you truly love.
First of all tell me about yourself and your family?
I am a single mum of five, divorced almost two years ago, 42 years old and feeling every one of them some days. My children are 14, 12, 12, 10 and 7
Many of the readers won’t know the area you were born in so could you describe it, especially the attitudes towards LGBT, if any.
We live in Lincoln, a beautiful university city with, to the best of my knowledge, a pretty good attitude to all things LGBT. There are various support groups, for both young people and adults, as well as social groups.
Tell me about Cas.
Cas, my eldest, who is FTM trans (Female To Male), was never a girly girl, totally uninterested in things remotely feminine. A real tomboy and from a very young age his hobbies were fishing, golf and super bikes. I know that doesn’t necessarily mean much these days in the UK, but in Cas’ case it has significance.
How did Cas first approach you?
At the age of 11, shortly after my ex-husband and I separated, Cas came out to me as bisexual. I don’t doubt that he was anything other than honest back then, but I also think that it was maybe a bit of a test to see how I stood on things LGBT wise.
How do you think Cas felt in approaching you and leading up to it?
I don’t actually believe that he really had any doubt as to what my reaction would be, as his uncle is out and proud, plus I have a number of gay friends both male and female.
I think he was maybe approaching 12 when he began loudly grumbling that being a girl sucked! For a while prior to that the clothes had become very much “boy uniform”…..t-shirts, football shirts, hoodies, trackies and trainers. All girl clothing stayed in the wardrobe and drawers. Shortly after his 12th birthday, my sister got married and I consider her wedding to be the last big hurrah for “Megan”. That is to say, she had the bridesmaid dress, heels, fabulous hairdo, jewellery, and even a touch of lipstick. Within a week of the big day, 16 inches was cut off the hair, clothes that he never wore were turned out and bagged up for the charity shop, and he has never looked back.
So how did Cas actually approach you?
One evening we were sat on the landing at the top of the stairs, not even sure why now, and he said “I don’t want to be a girl”. I asked what he meant by that, and he said “I’m supposed to be a boy!”
What was your reaction?
I think I said “Oh, ok”. Although I wasn’t expecting him to come out with that, I wasn’t completely surprised. He hadn’t been his usual funny, happy, full of life self for quite a while, and it was obviously more than just a “mood”. He’s not much of a talker, so it’s necessary to allow him to open up in his own time. Yes, it would have been great had he got there earlier, we would have maybe avoided the depression, the self-harm, and the hermit-like life he seemed to create for himself. However, the fact that he hit such a low means that the differences in him now are so significant and so incredible to see.
So what happened next?
Several things happened fairly rapidly, we saw the nurse at our surgery who recommended seeing a counsellor, I read article after article online searching for other Transgender stories. I also spoke at length to a good friend who is a sex therapist, and has a number of Transgender clients. Cas and I began seeing a wonderful lady at Relate (Relate is a mediation counselling service available in the UK) and the difference in him was noticeable after the first couple of appointments. Having someone there, whose only purpose was to listen to him, and who wasn’t his Mum, was exactly what he needed. There were no huge breakthroughs or life-changing decisions, there was just an outlet for feelings and emotions, and encouragement to be more open with other people. We saw her for about four months, and she was absolutely a lifeline for both of us.
I understand that Cas was ready to come out further?
A year ago Cas came to me and told me that he wanted to come out at school, as he felt that he was living two different lives, home and school. I made an appointment to see the SENCo (Special Education Needs Coordinator) at the school in order to discuss what we needed to do to start the ball rolling.
What reaction did you get?
Unfortunately, that initial meeting yielded very little in the way of results, and a couple of months later we tried again with a different member of staff. By this point, Cas has expressed his need to go public with his life, so it was essential that we had his school on board. Maybe it was going in and telling the school, this is what is happening, that made the difference, but within two weeks, administrative changes had been made.
What changes did the school make in that time period?
The whole staff had been informed, and a date had been set to share with the rest of the pupils. Cas now has access to gender-neutral toilets and changing facilities, and is currently given a choice when groups are split male / female. Obviously he has distinct physical disadvantages compared to many of his male peers.
I understand at this point it was time to go public?
Yes. The rest of the family was told that we were taking the next step, and we finally went public in February 2015, with the help of Facebook and Twitter.
What about name change?
Earlier this year, Cas had his name changed legally, by deed poll. Megan Sarah is a wonderful memory, Cas Evan is my sons’ true identity.
Cas chose his own name, of which I approve.
What response have you had?
The response we have had has been phenomenal, and in some instances overwhelming. The love and support we have received, from family, friends, our churches and the general population (via the Internet) has been incredible.
Have you had any negative feedback?
There have been one or two dissenting voices, fuelled, I believe, by a lack of understanding, a lack of education, and, in a couple of cases, a “generational” refusal to accept something that they don’t “approve” of. In those cases, I have had to accept that you just can’t win them all
We have been so fortunate in the response we have had, and we haven’t had to deal with any real unpleasantness. There have been one or two people that have had questions and I have done my best to answer them, also encouraged them to speak to Cas too. He is far more eloquent on the subject than I am, and he would much rather people talk to him than avoid him. The only thing that either of us can do is be honest. People will either accept my son or they won’t, but if they choose not to, at least they will make that decision informed.
Did you have any concerns about the process?
Cas and I both had concerns about his coming out. It’s only natural to worry when you have no clue as to how people will react, but as it turned out, our worries were completely unnecessary. I understand how fortunate we have been, and know that it could have been so very different.
Did you receive support from your immediate family?
My immediate family, my brother, sister and brother-in-law, have been with us at every stage, my sister being my total rock throughout
What happens next?
We are currently waiting for an appointment to come through at Tavistock which is the UK gender clinic that treats under 18s. That should happen within the next month or so. Cas is very clear on what he does and doesn’t want, and when he wants it. He is well-versed on what treatment is available, the effects and side-effects, and whilst he is wanting to wait a while before beginning medical treatment, he is keen to begin with the counselling and evaluations that we know will have to take place before any more steps can be taken.
What about support from within the LGBT family?
At this point, support from the LGBT community has been great, and although I am aware that there are some who have real issues with Transgender people, it is not something that we have comes across personally. Cas is a member of a fairly new LGBT youth group here in Lincoln, and has nothing but good experiences of that, and we both sit on an NHS LGBT patient user group panel, which has a variety of LGBT members.
What advice would you give others?
Talking, sharing, answering questions and general being open and forthcoming about Cas’ situation, and our family, is important to both of us. Sadly, recent publicity about Trans-youth in particular, has been largely negative, so many deaths, so much violence. If Cas’ story can help to show that you can be accepted for who you are, that there are people who love unconditionally, then that can only be for the good.
And…..your final thoughts?
Bottom line, I love my son. He is bright, beautiful inside and out, and brave beyond measure. He makes me laugh a lot, he has been known to make me cry on occasion, and he is my hero. He, and every young person who has the courage to be true to themselves no matter what.