i Lost A Daughter But Gained A Son
Diane couldn’t be prouder of her boy
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.
‘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