i Lost A Daugh­ter But Gained A Son

Diane couldn’t be prouder of her boy

Pick Me Up! - - OUR PICK ME UPS! -

One day, she came home dressed in boys’ clothes

Diane Dixon, 52, Hull

It’sa girl!’ the nurse said.

Squint­ing at the wob­bly ul­tra­sound screen, I couldn’t tell! But me and my hubby John, now 48, were over the moon.

We al­ready had Dar­ryl, then 2, and Han­nah, 1.

We de­cided to call our new lit­tle one Emily.

‘We can dress her and Han­nah in match­ing out­fits,’ I smiled to John.

And that’s what we did. When Emily ar­rived, we’d a wardrobe full of pink, frilly and flo­ral clothes wait­ing.

She al­ways looked so pretty and girly… At least, un­til she was old enough to have a say in the mat­ter.

‘I don’t want to wear dresses any more,’ Emily an­nounced one day when she was 7.

In­stead, she chose to wear shorts, jeans and t-shirts, say­ing they were com­fier.

‘She’s a tomboy,’

I laughed to John, brush­ing it off.

While Han­nah opted for pink, Emily would choose blue. She wanted Dar­ryl’s toys, too, pre­fer­ring Bat­man to Bar­bie.

‘As long as she doesn’t steal my clothes,’ John winked.

Com­ing to terms

Ac­tu­ally, though, she did! She’d creep into our bed­room to try on John’s polo shirts or shorts.

By 13, Emily was stay­ing in her room con­stantly, never came down­stairs to talk to us.

When­ever I asked what was wrong, she’d scream, ‘It’s your fault I’m like this!’

I’d seen my first two go through pu­berty, though, so I put it all down to that. Only, some­thing about Emily felt dif­fer­ent…

One day, she came home dressed in boys’ clothes, with a re­ally short hair­cut.

And, when she came out as les­bian at 15, I wasn’t sur­prised. We were sup­port­ive, but her at­ti­tude didn’t change. At 16, she even came home with tat­toos – first a cross on her fore­arm, then a tribal rose on her shoul­der.

But I hit the roof when I saw the huge tat­too on her chest. She’d had a wonky gun inked above her breasts.

‘What are you play­ing at?’ I gasped. ‘They’re for life!’

Emily just shrugged and went to her room.

I started to think she was mix­ing with the wrong crowd. Maybe even tak­ing drugs…

If only she’d open up to me. One day, I picked up Han­nah from col­lege. She’d been wor­ried about her sis­ter, too.

‘Mum, I read Emily’s diary last night,’ she blurted out. ‘It says she’s in the wrong body.’ I fell silent.

The wrong body? Sud­denly, it clicked.

The short hair, boys’ clothes, com­ing out…

Maybe she’s trans­gen­der? ‘She writes short sto­ries, so

maybe it’s made up,’ I said.

But, at the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t.

‘Have you got some­thing to tell me?’ I asked, when we got Emily from school. She didn’t say a word. ‘I read your diary,’ Han­nah said, re­peat­ing what she’d seen.

At first, Emily said it was a story. But soon, she opened up.

Get­ting sup­port

‘I am in the wrong body!’ she blurted out, cry­ing. ‘i’ve even been bind­ing my boobs.’ I stopped the car then and there, and hugged her. ‘We’re here, no mat­ter what,’ I said, hold­ing her. Back home, we sat John and the rest of the fam­ily down to tell them. Soon, we were read­ing up and watch­ing films about be­ing trans. We saw one film about a man who wanted to be­come a woman. He was dis­owned by all his friends and fam­ily. What a lonely life.

Emily started go­ing to Trans Peer Sup­port Group (TPSG), where other trans men and women could guide her. She was more com­fort­able, hap­pier, and more cer­tain than ever that she was a boy.

We went to the doc­tor’s, who re­ferred us to a hos­pi­tal in Sh­effield. There, Emily was put on testos­terone patches.

She was mon­i­tored for six months, then given in­jec­tions of testos­terone every 10 weeks.

Af­ter six months, her voice deep­ened, she started sprout­ing fa­cial hair, and she lost her wom­anly shape.

At 18, she was put on a six-month wait­ing list to be seen by a panel of spe­cial­ists.

And then… ‘I want to be called Ash­ton,’ she an­nounced.

So we stopped say­ing ‘she’ and ‘ her’, and started say­ing ‘ he’ and ‘ him’ in­stead.

Af­ter be­ing mon­i­tored by the panel, Ash­ton was ap­proved for a full mas­tec­tomy. He’d had to pour his heart out about how un­happy he was – but, 18 months on, age 20, he was given the op. I won’t deny it was emo­tional. I’d lost a daugh­ter, gained a son. But I still had my child.

Ash­ton flour­ished. He was con­fi­dent, hand­some and, finally, happy.

The cus­tomers at our fam­i­lyrun cafe were so ac­cept­ing. In fact, new ones thought he’d al­ways been our son.

Ash­ton has a part­ner now, Li­ayle, 24 – and is twice the per­son he was.

He’s not had full gen­der-re­as­sign­ment surgery yet, as he’s still de­cid­ing what’s right for him.

What­ever he faces in the fu­ture, all I care about is that my son is happy.

Emily will al­ways have a place in my heart.

But I re­ally couldn’t be prouder of Ash­ton.

It’s no easy thing to have the courage to live the life that makes you happy.

As his mum, I couldn’t ask for any­thing more.

Emily at 13, hit­ting pu­berty

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