She’s not a princess anymore
By Charle Schmidt
December 20, 2000, I lost one of my best friends. I was in a black hole. January 12, 2001, my granddaughter *Haley was born. One look at the beautiful little face and the light came back into my world.
My daughter, *Dee, called her “Princess”. She saved her wedding dress so Haley could wear it on her wedding day. It was a very special dress because Gramma Grace made it
Fast forward to 2015. Haley is in high school, attending the Boys and Girls Club program where she meets her first transgender person. It was then Haley realized she felt uncomfortable in her own body. Before she tells her mother, she tells her brother. “I never even had the chance to tell mom myself,” she tells me, “Because *Baz told mom ‘Haley thinks she’s a boy’ ”
“…having a transgender person in your family means you have to change as well.”
In the beginning, I thought maybe the idea of being transgender was a fad. My best friend Amberleigh worked in mental health and her perspective made sense. “I think Haley has felt like this for a long time but it was not until they moved away that she could express that,” Amberleigh told me.
I was never upset or unhappy but I was confused. Then I read a wonderful book, Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family, by Amy Ellis Nutt. After reading that book, I realized having a transgender person in your family means you have to change as well. I honestly feel blessed to have this grandchild who made me examine my beliefs and grow as a person.
I’m proud that I have a courageous grandchild and I’m pleased that we have a strong relationship so Spencer could say “Gramma, I’m a boy, my name is Spencer. Please call me he or him from now on.”
“I want people to know, I am still the same person on the inside.”
Before I wrote this, I asked Spencer if it was okay to write about him. He said that was fine. We talked about the process of coming out to friends and family. He told me his stepmother really helped. “She cried with me when I told Gramma Grace. It took a while for her to grasp exactly what I meant.” She continued, “Gramma Grace hugged me and said she loved me no matter what.”
At the end of the conversation, I asked Spencer if there was anything he wanted to share. He said, “I want people to know, I am still the same person on the inside.”
I must admit there are moments when I am a little sad because Spencer will never wear that special wedding gown. And, he is not our “Princess” anymore. What he is, I believe, is a blessing.
*Some names have been changed as Spencer has not come out to everyone in the family and I felt it best to respect his privacy.
Resources to learn more about transgender youth:
Focus on health needs of LGBT youth, which differ from their heterosexual peers. Resources from the CDC, other government agencies, and community organizations. Includes LGBT youth, friends, educators, parents and family members. The aim is to support positive environments.
Gender Spectrum: www.genderspectrum.org
Helps to create gender sensitive and inclusive environments. It is for all children and teens.
GLAAD wants to lead the conversation, shape the media narrative and change the culture. GLAAD wants to accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ people.
Human Rights Campaign: www.hrc.org
The Human Rights Campaign helps transgender children, families and youth-serving professionals find resources to support one another
National Center for Transgender Equality: www.transequality.org
Founded in 2003 by transgender activists who provide a powerful transgender advocacy in Washington, D.C.
This is the largest organization in the US that unites families and allies of LGBTQ people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – CHARLE SCHMIDT
Charle Schmidt is the mother of three daughters and three granddaughters. She raised her oldest granddaughter and is still raising her youngest granddaughter. Charle has five grandsons, including Spencer.