Resiliency: Jake’s World

By Sylvie Griffiths:

A trip to the beach would open my eyes to what my baby needed, even though it was right before my eyes. This begins the tale of Jake’s World. My eight year old son was born biologically female. We named her a girly name that we do not acknowledge anymore. A tattoo on my arm might need some reworking. I have an eight year old son who is transgendered.

So, my “three girls and the oldest is a boy” response to having four kids and then inquiring what their gender and ages are is inaccurate. I have two boys and two girls. It has been an odd sensation as a parent to change your thinking to adjust to such a thing.

Friends have offered support and tell us we are doing a great job; this is lovely but it’s my kid so there is no other option than to at least shoot for great! Family members have committed to the change, and though some are very old fashioned they see Jake and the just GET IT.

Our move had a lot to do with Jake; we wanted him to start as Jake fully and see where this goes. The old school area we were zoned for was not the best for my oldest two kids truthfully, but we sought out this area to live in for both reasons equally. Our old area we lived in for six years; Jake was just a baby and he lived in that area until he was seven and a half.

No one questions him here (you would not know to look at Jake that he is transgendered) and he can just be himself. And I see more of “him” now than I ever did. He would always ask me to “Please cut it a little shorter Mommy,” when I cut his hair before the change. He would always want to talk about ‘boy stuff.’ He never spoke of the future like children do, planning cars, jobs, even families. But he did after becoming Jake; his true self.

Kids believe, in those priceless younger years, that their dreams can truly come true. I am turning 40 in the beginning of the year and I have just realized that dreams can come true. Jake being brave enough to tell my husband and me that he was really a boy in the wrong body is a literal miracle. I will always be so flattered that he felt good enough to tell us how he was feeling in the beginning stages. I have many gay friends and coming out to me has always shown such true heart and bravery; it’s hard to be yourself in the world today. But a seven year old finally telling us, “Hey. I never liked Hello Kitty,” is pretty fearless.

When you are young it’s about fitting in. As I approach my mid-life (crisis, cough**) I feel like fitting in is important too as in professional settings and such. I work in social services and being approachable is very vital to you truly getting through to people and building a relationship of trust. Asking for help is something I hate doing, blame it on my Capricorn birthday!

But Jake has taught me to ask for help. I sometimes feel awkward, which I am, and I feel inferior because of those feelings. Jake is full of moxie and dances around the house most days with the dogs in his boxer briefs. He literally would not care if anyone saw, or if anyone laughed; he would most likely laugh with them. My other wonderful kids, I worry, will suffer feelings of neglect as we put a lot into Jake being Jake, but they seem to want to love, protect, and nurture him as we do. He has brought our family even closer together in being his authentic self. Don’t get me wrong; I am terrified for Jake in the current world we live in. I could go on and on about my fears and thoughts on Jake and what he will encounter on his journey to his true self. But then I see his silly smile, big brown eyes, and high top sneakers (Jordan’s like his big Bro) and I remember, everything will be fine. Because, to our family, its Jake’s World, and we are beyond happy to exist in it.

About Sylvie Griffiths:
Sylvie is a happily married mother of four who enjoys writing, people and chocolate.

She is an Evaluation Associate and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Healthcare-Adult Community Concentration, from the University of South Florida. She holds more than ten years of experience in performance assessment and behavioral health services and is currently enrolled as an MBA student at Springfield College, School of Professional and Continuing Studies.