Around 15 months ago my 22 year old child Laur opened up to me around how they were feeling about their gender. They no longer saw themselves as a girl.....or as a boy. This came as a complete shock.
I turned to the internet - looking for answers to questions I didn't even know how to ask. There was a wealth of practical advice, stories of other loving parents trying to understand and embrace the new world we had been faced with. Words and phrases such as gender dysphoria, gender fluidity, non-binary, gender neutral flooded my brain. I was scared. I felt very alone.
Emotional stress became evident and overcame me- despite the wonderful friends and parents I have, it’s safe to say that at times I felt utterly overwhelmed. Not only was I trying to understand to support Laur, I wanted and needed to understand too.
One night, after a particularly difficult day, poring over the net I came across SOFFA, a self help group - their mission statement was simple. 'To provide support and information to family and associated non-trans people within the Trans* community through the provision of a support group, phone line, web presence and educational resources'.
This gave me hope.
It was very difficult making that first call - a combination of the acknowledgement of the situation I was in and not having a clue what I was going to say. I needn’t have worried – in the first few minutes I felt an arm coming round my shoulder.... I 'd found someone to talk to who understood. They listened while I poured out a jumble of thoughts, questions, feelings that had been bottled up.
The next step was attending the first monthly meeting. Immediately I stepped into that room I felt at home.. somewhere I belonged and these people all knew exactly what I was feeling and going through because they were in the same boat. It was a safe and confidential haven.
From that day forward I knew I’d survive and more importantly be able to provide Laur with the love, support and acceptance they needed.
Regretfully a few months ago the group lost its funding sponsors. Annually around £1500 is required to cover costs such as meeting room hire, design & printing for support literature, public liability insurance. Without funding the group simply cannot continue to function and fulfil its aims to provide support & information to Significant Others Family Friends Associates of people within the transgender community.
On a personal note this group threw me a lifeline. Neither The Samaritans nor Mind could help me. I’m still gaining the courage to embrace and guide Laur through their journey. The group is vital to this courage and to alleviating stress of the life changing impact on me.
I’d really like to give something back, at the same time helping others who find themselves on this path. This is my chance to do just that.
Thank you for reading this.