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  • Writer's pictureanthonybothwell

Trans Awareness Week | Michelle's Story - A Mother's Journey


Name: Michelle (she/her), Melissa's Mum


My sister passed away 3 years ago. She was an amazing person, very open-minded, and easy to talk to. This was 4 weeks before my only boy said his intentions were to transition.


I wasn’t surprised, but it was just words then. I always referred to him as my ‘boy’ hardly ever my son. But the words became actions, and he began the journey. I moved 713 miles away the year before so I wasn’t around to watch the slow progress being made, only seeing twice a year on visits. The voice was the same, the name was different, Melissa.


As soon as I tried to refer to “her” my brain kept saying 'my boy'. 35 years of saying so I just couldn’t get it right. My 3 CIS gendered daughters just took to it like a duck to water, so why wasn’t I?


Then after 2 years of a change of name and dressing as a woman it became more of a reality and then it kicked in, I was losing my boy. I look at my sister’s picture and speak to her and feel the grief of losing her, then I start to feel the grief of losing Mark, and begin to hate myself for it.

I started finding it hard to speak to Melissa or her sisters because they were on a different page to me, they hadn’t lost a brother, they gained a big sister.


I remember what Mark went through coming out as gay, and the fear I have as a parent of how he would be treated and was bullied at school. It brought back the same feelings and worries for my child to go through this again.


When I still think of it, it pains me so much I still don’t want to lose my boy. My heart is in my mouth now as I write how I feel, I am trying so hard to change the way I speak and refer to Melissa. Now when I speak to anyone, refer to her as my oldest child.


I felt selfish at times, and not proud of myself that I wasn’t coping with the transition. Nearly every time I opened my mouth, I got it wrong, I kept referring to the past tense and kicking myself for doing so. It built a wall between us that only I built. Melissa would say you haven’t lost anything you’ve gained, and all I could think was I don’t need or want another daughter, and felt my loss was insufficient, the more I bottled it up the harder it came to let go.


The other week I spoke to one of my brothers, I can't tell you how much it helped just to let it out. I think he was as surprised as I was that I wasn’t dealing with my emotions, and he told me to just have a talk with Melissa. Then I spoke to Melissa a few days after, and she was so understanding and said it was quite normal that a lot of parents feel that way.

I felt the walls falling and relieved that she didn’t hate me for my negativity, and I feel a lot more prepared for the future and the journey ahead.

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