More often than not, my 11-year-old son Chase initiates a serious conversation with me when I am otherwise occupied and unable to make eye contact and use body language to signal that he has my undivided attention. He has employed this tactic while I’ve been driving, cooking dinner and running on the treadmill in our garage.
The other night, as I sat on my bathroom floor painting my toenails, Chase walked in and asked if he could soak in the bath, I did see him browsing the internet about united kingdom shower baths trends but I should have known something was up; he always takes a shower.
He ran the water, added some bubbles, stepped in, sat down and closed the shower curtain. He said something that I couldn’t hear over the running bath water.
“I can’t hear you. Wait until you turn the water off,” I shouted.
“It’s really sad that some parents don’t accept their kid if they are gay,” he said. “Is that really true?”
“Yeah, it’s true and it is really, really sad….” I said before he interrupted me.
“I just can’t believe it. I just read an article about it online,” he said in a voice full of worry.
We’ve been open with both of our sons that not everyone is supportive of the LGBTQ community – even some parents of community members. But, Chase didn’t believe me until he read it online.
“But, you know that we will love you and support you no matter what, right?” I had stopped painting my nails and was now talking to the shower curtain.
“I know that. You and dad would love me the same no matter if I’m gay or straight.” He sounded assured.
“I don’t care if you love a boy or a girl, I just want you to be with someone who is good and kind and treats you well and who you want to treat well. I want you to have a good partner.”
“If I date a transgender person, does that make me bisexual?” he asked.
I didn’t see that question coming. I looked bewilderingly at the shower curtain.
“Ummmmm….” I had to think, but was having a hard time concentrating as the conversation had quickly taken a turn down a path I had not anticipated.
“Is the transgender person you are potentially dating a boy or a girl?
“Okay, so she was born with a boy body but identifies as a girl and lives as a girl and dresses as a girl?” I clarified.
“Yes, I think so.”
“Is this a real life girl you’re thinking about?” I asked.
“NO!” He still isn’t totally comfortable admitting to me when he finds someone attractive.
“Okay, sorry, just checking. Ummm, I guess that’s a little bit tricky.” I didn’t want to ask if the fictional transgender female had transitioned medically because I was already getting bogged down by logistics. “To me, that would make you straight and would make her straight. But, I guess to some people that would make you bisexual….”
“Okay, then that would be the only time I’m bisexual, the rest of the time I’d be straight,” he said quickly.
“Sounds good,” I said, not knowing what to say and rolling my eyes at myself for only the shower curtain to see. “I guess that could also make you pansexual,” I offered — because I couldn’t leave well enough alone.
“What does pansexual mean?” he asked.
“It means that you fall in love with the person, not their sex or gender.”
“I think I’ll be pansexual because that starts with ‘pan’ and ‘pancake’ starts with ‘pan’ and pancakes are my favorite food,” he reasoned.
I’d never heard someone identify sexually based on a sexual orientation sounding like their favorite breakfast food, but who was I to judge.
“Pancakes are good,” I agreed.
I heard him pull the drain and the water start to empty from the tub. He pulled the shower curtain back.
“I think it’s really cool that you’re open to dating a trans person. You have a good heart,” I said.
“Thanks,” he said hurriedly as he wrapped himself in a towel and scurried out of the room quickly, avoiding the dreaded eye contact that accompanies conversations about love and sex between mother and tween son.
I liked the way your child thinks and some 3 years after posting your article I hope they haven’t changed. Your great mum and it’s wonderful to see you’re being open with your child. One little thing if I may. Linking a guy to being considered bi is dependent on if, or if not, a transwomen has had SRS is around about way of stating that transwomen are gay guys. This type of talk helps fuel the myth that we transition from male to female to merely trick straight guys into having sex with us, which of course is not the case. Otherwise thank-you for sharing what is a magical moment.
One of my brother’s friends is dating a nonbinary AFAB who uses male or neutral pronouns. He’s started calling himself bisexual based on this. I’m not sure, since his partner hasn’t had any medical transitioning, and I believe they got involved before he came out. Could be that he’s mainly straight but love matters more than a change in gender. But it’s not really my business what he calls himself.
Hi, I stopped when I saw the title of the article, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Me being a transgender male myself found this to be close to the heart.
I found it amazing how your son said such a compassionate statement about gay and lesbian individuals regarding the harsh backlash some of them have to face. Most importantly I found it even more amazing to the fact that he stood true to his beliefs regardless of his peers because sadly many teens and kids are so caught up with their insecurities, peer pressure and the “norms” that they use that as an excuse to be honest about what they support.
And now on to you. You and your husband are extremely tolerant and knowledgable with regards to the LGBT communities, your questions and answers were spot on! Thats the kind of reaction us LGBT indivduals and those of us who believe in love and exceptance want!
Your son’s questions especially about Pansexuals was quite amusing! “Innocence is Bliss”, as they say! 🙂
Finally I hope more people in your generation and older generations teach their kids to be tolerant and kind-hearted! It makes me have faith in humanity after looking at the disturbing and inhumane treatment that many LGBT indivduals sadly still face!
Look how far we’ve come and each generation will get better and better, just look at the beautifully worded things that the tolerant, gifted things that the majority of teens and kids are saying!
I also love how the whole comment section is all positive! 🙂
-PS, I hope your son grows up to be a happy tolerant person who pass what he’s learned to his children! ❤
My 14 year son has started dating a transexual boy who was born a girl. He has told me he is bisexual, he has never mentioned this before. I gave him a big hug and told him i love him. He knows I will love him whatever, but it his his 1st relationship and I am just worried he is confused as to whether he is in love with a boy or a girl. He has never made friends easily, has just started a new school where he has met his new friend. Has anybody else experienced this. I just want my son to be happy.
Im living it right now. Same. This is his first experience. Also 14 yrs old.
This is wonderful, if only my mom and I had been this open growing up, it wouldn’t be such a struggle now a days for me.
Great post!! My rainbow & I usually have these kind of conversations while we are driving or he’s lying in the dark after he goes to bed & I am standing at his door. These are the times where I feel most out of my depth, yet most connected. #thingsIneverthoughtIwouldsaytomyson
I love your family. You and Matt are doing a wonerful job. I think its great that Chase is not so shy that he can’t talk about anything. He can even take a bath with you there while talking about dating and sex. He must have read the news about the recent suicide of the transgendered boy that believed she would never find love. Chase wanted I guess to be reassured that he could date someone like her and still be heterosexual. As I remember he stated with certainty he was straight so he needs to feel comfortable with that and who he dates. I can understand how he might feel.
Wonderfully written and so reassuring to see such amazingly open ideals in the younger generations!
I love this entry SO MUCH!
This is the best thing I’ve read all week! Your kids are amazing!
I just want you to know you are a hero for raising your son this way. If only more people would be this loving and accepting to their kids, and teach them to be the same way.
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Reblogged this on What isn't said is wept. .
I’ve let my son know since he was very young that I won’t care who he dates regardless of race, gender, etc. The only thing I want for his relationship to make him is happy.
Thank Chase for helping me come to terms with my true identity, I am now ready to come out to friends and family as pancakesexual. 🙂 I always knew I was different. I finally have a name for it.
i love this post
What a great conversation to have with Chase….and bravo to you for how you handled it. It’s funny how much we can discover about our children by noticing their habits (usually showering) and when they deviate from them (wanting a bath) as being an indicator that ‘something is up’. I’ve discovered many things about my own two just by paying closer attention to them. You don’t have to hover over your children to know when something is amiss in their world or troubling them; you just have to get to know them and the signs will often become apparent rather quickly.
Jeesh … I love you and your kids …..
I love this, I hope I have this close of a connection with my son as you do yours.
This was the first time I’ve seen your blog but I enjoyed what I read. That’s an amazing person you’ve got there. Your honesty will be his foundation that is unbreakable by anyone but him.
Keep up the good work and thank you for truly comprehending the “work” of a parent. Be blessed and stay aware.
You’re such a good mommy. And Chase is brilliant.
Does it matter if they are a girl they are a girl if a bit they are a boy…do genitals really determine sexuality… Noooooope.
I love that you can have such open conversations with your kid! Sounds like you are a great mom! I wanted to share a few of my thoughts that contrast with some of what’s been expressed, I hope it won’t be received as criticism, but maybe another point of view to consider.
I read a lot of comments “confirming” that the relationship would be straight if he dates a transgirl. I just want to add that that may very well be true if that’s how he feels about it, but I think it’s really important that people identify for themselves what to call their sexuality. Gender identity, gender presentation, sexuality and sexual behaviour are four distinct things that are sometimes interrelated but don’t have to be. So, for example, Someone might identify as male (gender identity) but present in a very feminine way (gender presentation)– look up Stu Rasmussen for an example of a transgender person who identifies as male, but has had breast implants and presents in a way that one might typically associate with being a woman. This is also important because, as another commenter said, many trans people don’t undertake surgical or hormonal treatments and an onlooker may or may not see their gender as they do, nobody gets to say that you have to do x,y,z to be presenting as X gender, we each get to decide for ourselves how our gender(s) are best expressed.
Likewise, you can label your sexuality whatever you want because sexuality is a personal and sometimes complex thing. So just because someone is a woman who mostly has sex with women and identifies as a lesbian, it doesn’t mean she’s no longer a lesbian if she likes to sometimes have sex with men. Nor does it make her not a lesbian if she dates a range of people. If someone feels specifically attracted to trans-women and not really to cis-women, how can you define their sexuality by defaulting to whatever it would be if they were attracted to cis-women? Some but not all trans people want to be considered as “simply” man or woman. The “trans” part can be an important part of a person’s gender identity, just like it can be something they leave out. Some people, as expressed above, prefer to define themselves in the normative terms and that’s great as long as it works for them, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Just like for Scott it’s important that his male partners continue to identify as gay because otherwise it would erase his maleness or mis-gender him, there are also people for whom not acknowledging their transsexuality and simply calling a relationship with them “gay” or “straight” would feel equally erasing. It’s really a person-by-person, personal preference thing. (and no choice or preference that one person has detracts from a different expression by another person, there’s room for everyone!)
I’m a part of a diverse community of trans, genderqueer, and cis-gendered folks. I’m a cis-woman who presents fluidly across the feminine-androgynous-masculine spectrum, depending on the day. (so I’m a woman but often present and am happy to be perceived as a man). I generally date trans masculine people (some identify as men, some as genderqueer, some as non-binary, etc) and I identify my sexuality as queer or lesbian, depending on the context I’m in. The fact that i rarely date women doesn’t bar me from being a lesbian. Lesbian/dyke culture is more than how or with whom you have sex and the culture I belong to and the way I feel my sexuality is expressed is best described, for me, by that term. Certainly how I look in public, whether I’m alone or with a partner, I don’t look straight and dealing with homophobia/lesbophobia and transphobia are part of my daily experience and it’s important to me that the way I name my identity reflect that. This has never bothered any of the guys i’ve dated, in fact several of them also retain a feeling of being a lesbian or dyke even as men and it’s not like they get “kicked out” of lesbian community as they transition or come out as men. They can be men who identify as lesbians, just like they can be straight men who date lesbians. gender and sexuality are so personal and the words we have available to describe them often leave a lot out.
The take-away here is that, if someone asks you what a certain kind of relationship “makes you,” I think the best answer is to say that however you identify is up to you and it’s beautiful and good. You don’t even have to name it if you don’t want to, and you certainly don’t need to let others tell you what to call yourself. It can change as often as you need it to, or you can stick with the same label even if your dating practices or partners change, we each get to name ourselves and deserved to be loved no matter how we choose to do that. It’s OK not to have pat answers for questions like these.
It’s clear that you’re doing a great job in keeping the conversation open and non-judgmental, little details like these will be things that your son wi’ll figure out or come back to if he needs to. I really believe that the most important thing for a kid is to know that they are loved unconditionally. Kudos to you for getting that message across.
+1 for all of this, cam, thank you so much for writing this down!
The proper term is “polysexual”; “pansexual” is somewhat broader. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m W-I-D-E open to trans-women…notoriously so!
Reblogged this on MAXIMUM SEX-AND-ROCK-AND-ROLL and commented:
As we ALL know, I’m W-I-D-E open to trans-women (notoriously so)! The proper word is “polysexual”.
Your story was so very heartwarming. It gives me hope for the future of society. I think you handled the situation REALLY awesomely and should be proud of that, and also of what a cool son you have 🙂
Also the pancake reasoning is the best thing I’ve heard all day, haha.
I’m just wowed your 11 yr old son felt comfortable undressing and getting in the shower with you in the room. At his age (1975, mind you) I would have been mortified…
I agree! Out of the whole (fantastic) post, THIS is what struck me as odd 🙂
Right. I can’t imagine undressing in front of my mom when I was 11, or having a conversation touching on sex.
I love you and your family SO much.
OMG I love this post!! What a great kid!! You did a wonderful job answering this question.
Hmmm…. I bet he’s crushin on Jazz Jennings. 😉
So perhaps we’ve got this straight bi gay thing all wrong according to social views. Is it really about outward appearance or is it about our biological appendages? If i am a man who is dating a non surgical mtf and i care less what’s between her legs then by outward appearance the world thinks i’m straight, right. And vice versa if i’m that same guy am i now gay for dating that ftm person because the world sees two fellows even though i know it’s not? But if two ladies whi just happen to outwardly be feminine are dating are they BOTH automatically lesbian? I don’t think so.
This is actually a wonderful time to discuss and explore the more than binary sexual beings we all know we are and in the end just maybe we’ll all, well many of us anyway will finally get past outwardly looks amd look ay love distinctly for itself.
I guess what i’m suggesting here is that perhaps this is why, barring socio – political rational, that of women specifically viewed as less than value of men in what’s believed to be a patriarchal culture, really more better called androarchical, that men having non masculine attributes and women also having less than stereotypical characteristics when they cross a certain line of it, are considered gay, even though they are not. Or maybe they are but who’d know that otherwise?
Therefore, are we only gay when we are attracted to what someone looks like rather than their actual sex? If so then that’s pretty shallow for society to make such harsh judgment on someone. Notwithstanding the shallowness of judging in the first place.
So maybe really when it gets down to it, we’re all really pansexual or spansexual as i call it in that if i’m attracted to a certain look because of cultural training or media or whatever and after we find out what a great person this other is then we really don’t care what biological features one have from the start. That would give more reason to delay sexual intimacy until one got to know the other to find out what kind of person they are.
Does this make sense to what may be another issue in this whole discussion of sexuality in this country today?
I just found you and your blog. Thank you for sharing your experiences, I am learning a lot.
Of course, the only thing dating a trans girl would make him is in a relationship. If he were straight and dating a trans girl he’d still be straight; if he were bi and dating a trans girl he’d still be bi; and if he were gay and dating a trans girl by accident, (it happens: sometimes trans people get into relationships before accepting that they need to transition), he’d still be gay. Your orientation isn’t determined solely by whom you’re dating.
I agree with this too 😌
At 11 years old, there wouldn’t be a medical transition for the hypothetical girl your son’s hypothetically interested in. Except maybe blockers… hypothetical blockers LOL.
The part about the pancakes made me cry. What a beautiful intelligent wise son you have asking such profound questions. Then, all of a sudden, he’s just a kid like any other. He likes pansexual because it starts with “pan” like pancakes. What a sweetheart. And you did beautifully mom.
This…is exactly how hard conversations should go. Child-led, with reassurance, and honest information.
I lovvvvve that you introduced the term pansexual, and I think its perfect for this situation and the point you were trying to make to Chase. He really does (really really really) have a good heart. If only all kids could be so fair when it comes to relationships (friends or dating).
Anyone who dates Chase in the future will be SO lucky!
My son has just started noticing boobs. Boobs on t.v., boobs at the market, boobs on magazine covers. He’s ten, and I LOVE your post. Guess I need to go sign up to follow along. 🙂
It’s so wonderful that Chase can come to you with questions like these, even if he’s a little shy about it! It is too bad that we have become so accustomed to thinking in terms of categories. I say let’s all be pancakesexuals and be done with it. 🙂
“I’ve guess I’ve just always known that I was pancakesexual.” — future me, explaining my sexuality to interested parties.
I just discovered this site and am loving it so far. Thanks for sharing your stories with us.
This is great. The only thing I might add (and this is a hard concept for adults, never mind tweens) is that being attracted to one particular person doesn’t “make you” gay or straight or bi. You are who you are and have an orientation, regardless of current, past, or future crushes/partners. A bi man partnering with a man doesn’t make him gay- he’s still bi. I’m married to a guy, but I’m still queer. The fact that he’s a transguy isn’t what makes me queer; I’d be queer if I were with a cisguy, with a woman, or if I were single. It’s part of the reason I like more open terms like queer and pan(cake)sexual.
Every kid should have parents like you !!!
I love you guys!
I nominated you for The Very Inspiring Blog Award! 🙂
Check it out here:
Loved this story 🙂
My mother gave me the advice once that you always talk to your kids about the hard stuff when they can’t see your eyes. She said the best time was when you pick them up from school, and you’re driving, and they’re in the backseat. She told me kids will open up so much more when they don’t feel the pressure of your gaze. At the dinner table, if you ask how their day went, they’ll say, “Fine,” but in the car (or the bath, apparently!) they’ll tell you so much more. Interesting.
Reblogged this on Fairy JerBear's Queer World News, Views & More From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM and commented:
Another amazing post from an equally amazing mom…
Yup, pancakes! =D
How wonderful that Chase knows he can come to you with any sort of question at all. I actually like his “serious conversation” strategy. I remember feeling super embarrassed as a kid if I thought my parents were looking at me as we talked. When I became a teacher, my wonderful mentor told me about the importance of letting kids talk without forcing eye contact. We used to invite kids to look out the window with us if they needed to share or ask something – I had some really good conversations shoulder to shoulder by the window with my students.
I echo the other sentiments here. What an amazing family. Such honest questions and answers only come forth in an environment where everyone feels safe, accepted and loved. I can only hope that my children feel as comfortable coming to me with these hard questions as your children are going to you. Well, comfortable may not be quite the right word, but at least they know they can address anything with you, no matter how awkward it might feel.
I would have been inclined to say, “that makes you human.”
One of the mind-stretching things about transgenderism is that it forces us to confront the narrow-mindedness of such constructs as “gay”, “straight”, “bi”, etc. If, for example, I (currently male) have a LTR with a woman, and later I transition to female and we continue the relationship, the designation for my orientation would change from “straight” to “lesbian”, even though my orientation hasn’t actually changed.
There’s something about saying “I’m het” or “I’m gay” that always sounds to me like the person saying it is attracted to categories rather than to actual people.
As a trans woman I have a different way of looking at it then your scenario presents. From as long as I can remember I was told that I was a boy. Not knowing any better I believed them. I’ve always been attracted to girls. So as a “boy” that would make me strait. Later on in life after much pain and failed attempts to conform to the gender I was told I was I finally figured out and accepted that I was actually a girl and had been all my life. So before this realization and the start of my transition I was still a lesbian. I just didn’t know it. For different reasons a lot of lesbians have also discovered this was true later in life as they were told they were strait (because that’s what you’re “supposed” to be). Some even dated men, got married, etc because they wanted to fit that box they had been forced into and believed. Later on when they admit that they aren’t and never have been attracted to men (even the ones they’ve had intimate relationships with). This means they were lesbians then as well.
I’m not saying that there mobility between genders and sexual orientation can’t happen but simply that it’s not the case in every (if not most) situations. As for categories I think we all have those for people we date (be they more shallow or very deep) but there certainly is a biological element to it as well that we do not have control over. That spark, chemical reaction, pheromones- whatever you want to call it doesn’t exist with every person no matter how well matched they are. While there is a scale to it I’m sure (and more then just the gender of the person) we all have different limited or expanded differences in attractions and that’s fine. Self determination is really important in these things as well as not having shame shoved down your throat for not being attracted or being attracted to others for reasons outside of your control.
Just to clarify: if he dates a trans girl he is straight, as is she. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
For those of you reading this and have a Trans child, please check out the Facebook Group “Parents of Transgender Children” (private group) for support & enlightment.
I’m part of that group too. Great group 🙂
Should add it’s a group for parents of trans and gender creative kids.
🙂 We’re almost at 1400 members now so we are NOT alone 🙂
Actually I was a little surprised that you considered dating a MTF transgender person who is identifying as a female still as a boy resulting in bisexual. I would think a Male (your son) dating a transgender female would be considered a straight relationship. In any case wonderful blog you have taught my family so much. Thanks Rich
Hi Rich, Just wanted to clarify that I said to Chase (and wrote) that I consider that to be straight. 🙂
i loved this… because of how open and loving you are to your sons… and just seeing how openly they can talk to you about these kinds of things (even though he still wont admit he has a crush on someone 🙂 )
So first I want to say, it’s awesome that you and your son are having these conversations. The fact that he’s asking these questions at 11 is a hopeful sign to me as a 30-year-old trans person — I often come across adults who are struggling with the same questions (“What ‘am I’ if I date a trans person? Do I have to be bisexual if I date you?”). The fact that he’s trying to answer these questions at 11 means that at 25 or 30, he’ll most likely have a much more mature and evolved view. Fantastic.
Next I want to say what will sound like a criticism, which I hope you’ll be open to hearing. I think your first instinct is right — if your son date a trans girl, that relationship is straight. It’s been so important and affirming to me as a trans man that my significant others are attracted to men, and that I fit into that category for them. That is, if a guy is dating me and says, “Well, I was gay until I dated Scott. Now I’m bisexual,” then that feels to me like he’s telling me I’m -really- a woman in some fundamental way that I can’t ever change. And that does not feel good.
I hope that makes sense. (If it doesn’t, feel free to email me.)
Thanks for being a terrific parent, and broadening your child’s views of gender and sexuality. He and the world are better for it.
The important thing is that you’ve instilled in your children the ability to think and reason. Thank you, Lori and Matt. Now bottle that and we’ll all be alot better off! Good parenting job!!!!
Love this. You are doing parenting RIGHT.
Laurie, all I can say is awesome. All you have taught and are passionate about with CJ, has spilled over to Chase as well. He is coming into his own and his passion of being understanding for all LGBTQ persons is fantastic. He might be following in his Mothers footsteps and one day might see a book written by Chase Duron. I can see him being a major player for human rights and respect, maybe one day working with GLSEN.
Pancakes… I am going to have a smile on my face all day from that. Brilliant!
If Leelah had a parent like you, the community would have lost one less youth, regardless of orientation. Thanks for being you, Lori
I second this comment. Thank you. And, I’m not sure RE all the protracted comments regarding this post. Your kid is 11. You did an amazing job with the conversation.
Thank you for this brilliant post. x
um… If somebody identifies as a girl, they are a girl. Transition or not. Some trans people don’t transition. In that case, he’d be a boy who likes a girl. If he only likes girls, transgender or not, he’s straight. Pansexual means attraction to all genders. That’s it. I’m bi, and I fall in love with the person. Most people, regardless of sexual orientation, do.
I’m a trans man, pre operation , pre HRT. I’m not a woman. I am occasionally (not often) mistaken for one, but androgynous cisgender deal with that too. If a heterosexual woman is attracted to me, she’s still heterosexual. I’m a man. She’sa woman. I was assigned female at birth, my parents thought I was a girl. They were wrong. That doesn’t affect anyone’s sexual orientation. A lot of pansexuals spread the myth that only they are attracted to transgender people. That’s a load of plop. And I’m really getting sick of it.
I’m not angry at you or anything, sorry if the tone of this comment seems like it. I just deal with this misconception a lot and it’s annoying.
Thanks for saying all this.
Gorgeous & wonderful! I particularly love the association with pancakes, made me smile 🙂
Dare I say that I’m glad you didn’t waffle? As always, “Thank you!”
What a gem he is! My son STILL likes to have deep and meaningful conversations while he is sitting on the toilet and I am sitting on the floor outside the bathroom – and he just turned 21!
This is adorable. You are truly a wonderful mother.
I can’t even imagine. Your family is so amazing. You are such a wonderful mother. Good on Chase, what a great kid.
I love how you have candid conversations with your son, despite how how uncomfortable it must be at times. I hope I too can have such candid conversations when my kids are older.
You’re a great Mum. Hugs you hard. PS. I secretly love shower curtain conversations. You discover so much.