Parent with Pride
Jen Lockwood, Program Manager, Engagement and HR Communications, Human Resources at SickKids shares her perspective on supporting her son's journey with gender identity.
I have been a proud Mom for over 10 years, but it wasn’t until last year that I understood the significance of the phrase, “parent with pride”.
Earlier this year, my husband and I proudly supported our son when he asserted his identity to our entire family and his friends. Assigned female-at-birth, our child identifies as a boy, uses he/him/his pronouns and now has a different name than the one he was given at birth.
The last six months have been the most mind-expanding period of my entire life; it has also been a stressful time. When our son first started opening up to us, we had no idea what to do other than listen and reinforce that we loved him. Our initial months were spent visiting new bookstores, conducting online searches and connecting with community resources. I am so thankful for the support we received from close family and friends, our son’s school and the health-care community. I’m grateful to the new people we’ve met who shared stories about their journeys with their gender identities and offered support just because they want my son to have the happiest and healthiest childhood.
We are fortunate that, overall, our son’s transition has been positively embraced by those around us. We are well aware that other children, youth and adults undertaking similar journeys have to navigate attitudes and environments that are unwelcoming and even hostile.
I have learned so much from my son not only about courage and what it means to stand up for yourself but also how to be a more inclusive and respectful person in my personal and professional life. Through this experience with him, I have greater awareness of how the simple assumptions I have made in everyday situations have influenced how I communicate and behave. Looking back, I wonder if these assumptions may have adversely impacted others around me.
Now, I try to be more thoughtful when I meet and address people. The more practice I get letting people know the pronouns I use (she/her/hers) and asking people the pronouns they use, the more routine this becomes. I think I am also a better SickKids employee and stronger Human Resources (HR) professional as a result of how I view things now. Every HR communication I draft and every HR program I work on is approached through a different lens than before my son opened up about his journey.
To people who ask, “How do you know this isn’t just a phase? Your child is so young.” I say, “There’s no question in my mind.” If they had seen the look on his face after complete strangers first called him a boy, they would know. If they had seen him jumping around like a ten-year-old again after friends started using his “true” name and pronouns, they would know. He’s a boy, he’s my son.
My husband and I are looking forward to celebrating Pride this year as a family. My son is the bravest person I know and I look forward to all the other things he will teach us. I am a parent with pride.