What is it like to be transgender as a teenager? What do you do when your child comes home with this letter? This is the story of Kim Debruyne (49) and her son Sam Schmetz (19) from Izegem. A few months ago, Sam came home with a message that he was transgender. He was born a girl, but he doesn’t feel that way.
Kim De Bruyne was born and raised in West Flanders. I grew up in Roeselare and went to school in Kathem. She has now been living in Izegem with her husband and four children for years. They make a warm, happy and close-knit family, just like thousands of other West Flemish families.
Kim, how was your family before? How did you deal with issues such as gender identity or sexuality at home?
“My family was quite traditional, but very open minded. Things like that weren’t talked about every day. My mother used to say she hoped we’d never be gay. In the end, she always added that if one of us fell into the same gender, so be it. At school, It was often implied that you were straight. It wasn’t said in many words, of course, but I felt it. When I think now of the lessons of religion, I often wonder how these things could have been preached.”
Sam, when did you come out as trans?
“A few months ago. At the beginning of last year, I had already realized that I was gender non-conforming, which means that my gender and gender did not match. I had recently realized that I was actually a man. I started to think a lot and noticed that I actually preferred being a ‘son’ and wanted to be addressed Generally as he/she. Then I really realized I was a man in the wrong body.”
How were the reactions?
Poisonous: “My friends already knew I wasn’t transgender, but I really am trans, I told my mom first. Most of my friends aren’t cisgender or know a lot of trans/non-binary people, so they all responded positively. Mama responded right away and she has no problem with it.” It. She said she saw it coming, but partly she didn’t. She knew I wasn’t feeling well and she’s especially glad I now know why. My dad only cares about the physical side, like surgeries, because he doesn’t want me to suffer so much. In fact, I am really lucky with my family and my close surroundings.”
“I would have felt a lot worse if Sam had told me he was unhappy or ill.”
Kim: “Sam told me at first that he wasn’t binary at first. A few months ago he told me he really feels like a boy. To be honest, I’m having an easier time with this transition than going non-binary. I don’t understand why I’m myself, because I love him no matter how His identity. It took a while for the whole family to settle in. This has nothing to do with Sam at all. Rather, the difficulty is in breaking the habit. The reference to daughter or sister is now gone and that takes time, but the whole family loves it. Most of our worries come from worry and love. The hormones he’d have to go through, the surgeries he’d have…my parents responded really well.At first my mom thought we came to tell her Sam was a lesbian.The idea that he was transgender didn’t immediately cross their mind.Coming out as gay became normal in our family Some of the cousins have actually come out over the years.My dad simply said “as long as you’re happy” to Sam.
Kim, do you think your upbringing affected your reaction now?
“Divorced. I think it’s important to teach kids about sexuality and gender identity from a young age. If I had been taught about non-binary people and “they/they” pronouns in elementary school, I certainly would have had an easier time with this transition. I remember there being Separate playgrounds for boys and girls when I was young. As girls we have different tasks. I can’t imagine that now, and that’s a good thing.”
Sam, where are you now on your journey as a trans person and where do you want to go?
“I’ve already taken some steps, but there’s definitely still a long way to go. I’m now on a waiting list for treatment at UZGent. Until then, there’s not much I can do other than cut my hair and dress differently and of course there’s also my name, which I’ve changed to Sam. On the run The long haul, I’d like to start hormones and have my breast implants removed anyway. That last one in particular is something I’m looking forward to, because I know that from then on, I’ll also be ‘perverted’ to a much lesser extent.”
Sam will of course still be your child, but do you feel like you lost your daughter somewhere, Kim?
“I find it hard to describe. In fact, I don’t look upon my children as sons and daughters. My children are my children and I love them all equally. I knew I had to make that flick right away. Sam is still here. He was and always will be the kid who I brought him into the world.Sometimes I find myself telling stories from the past.Then I want to talk about my daughter, but it’s unusual.I never want to hurt Sam, so I do my best to switch as soon as possible.I had three daughters and a boy, and now I have Two daughters and two sons.”
What would you say to other families who don’t know how to deal with the gender identity (or sexuality) of their child(ren)?
“You don’t lose your child. Listen to what they want to tell you. Try to break out of that conventional mindset. There are so many things your child can bring home that are far worse than gender orientation or identity. If Sam told me he was unhappy or ill, I would feel so much worse.” Your child is your child. They don’t choose how they feel. The day he told us, we started calling right away. To the hospital for appointments and a friend who was also transgender for an explanation. We wanted to get it done as quickly as possible. I don’t want my child to live a lie. There is no A child follows 100 percent the way you imagined it, but you don’t have to. You always hope your child is happy, but as a parent, you can’t fill that happiness.”
Finally, is there anything you would like to say?
Kim: “I would invite other parents who are in this situation to talk to each other. A Facebook group or something like that would be great. Personally, I still sometimes have questions that I don’t like bothering Sam with, because I know he has enough on his mind. It would be It’s great to have a place where parents can talk to each other in a respectful and warm way about things like this.”
(Anne Sophie Goldentops)