Almost two years ago, I left the home I had lived in for close to 20 years – the home where my children were raised most of their lives, and the home that I considered my dream house. To be honest, I went through a period of sadness and fear because of this move.
We had sold the house without another place to move to. And we had decided to move from a large property with a huge front and backyard to a condo. Yes, we received a price we couldn’t turn down. Yes, we negotiated a nine-months-free rental clause. And yes, we had no closing costs to pay or no buyers trampling through our house looking in every nook and cranny. It was an amazing deal, but it also meant change.
Change is hard for me. It requires that I let go of all that is familiar. I like the familiar. My co-workers would chuckle when I traveled on business, because I liked not only the same hotel, but often even asked for the same room. It made me feel safe and comfortable.
When Aiden announced that he was going to transition from female to male, I remember those same feelings of discomfort, sadness and fear, but even more intensely. I would be losing my daughter. So much would change, and that meant I would have to change too.
What would our future look like? How was Aiden going to find a good job? What was he going to tell his future children? How could I keep him safe in a world that was often ignorant and heartless? How was my son going to live a happy and fulfilled life?
All that swirled around in my head were the negatives. Initially, I dwelled on all that I would be losing and all the challenges that lay ahead. I spent endless hours trying to anticipate every possible contingency in order to support Aiden making the right decisions. I wanted to walk away from this experience feeling like a good mother.
Anytime I have been willing to change, I have gained so much more than I thought I lost.”
— Marsha Aizumi, a mom, author and LGBTQ advocate with the Diverse Elders Coalition
In the end, I followed the one voice that has helped guide me in the direction that felt the best for me – my heart. As parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) children, we agonize over the right choices for our children, sometimes not realizing that our children do not have a choice of what gender they are attracted to or what gender they align with internally.
My willingness to be open to change, as difficult as it is for me, has catapulted me into a higher level of understanding, acceptance and action. When I decided I wanted to enter the advocacy arena, Aiden told me, “Momma, you are going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable!”
What does that mean, I thought, feeling ripples of uneasiness going through my body as I focused on the word “uncomfortable.” Who would choose to live in discomfort?
Today, I know my success as an advocate has been based on getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Many times, I have had to push myself to reach out to someone I didn’t know or email an individual for help. There have been times where I have talked with individuals and a glazed look of disinterest passed over their eyes.
I have had to lean into the discomfort when I speak to groups about our story. Initially, I was afraid of being judged. Today, thoughts of rejection are overshadowed by how much I can change the world to be more accepting of my son.
Anytime I have been willing to change, I have gained so much more than I thought I lost. So, as I moved from my dream house, I looked forward to all the wonderful, beautiful and amazing moments that would be created in this new place we would call home. And two years later, I can say that all that I looked forward to has come true. For it truly is not where I live that matters, it is who I take into that home that has really been important – just like the most important thing about my son is how he shows up in this world.
Show your amazing heart, and courageous spirit, my son. Momma is standing on the sidelines quietly cheering you on and feeling so proud of who you have become.
Marsha Aizumi, an author and LGBTQ advocate, is a team member with the New York City-based Diverse Elders Coalition, which works on policy advocacy, education and the sharing of stories for communities in which people are age 50 and older. This essay and these photographs, which are being published with permission, first appeared in the Diverse Elders Coalition blog.