It’s a brand new year, and that’s not the only new thing at our house.
Our beloved kiddo, who came out as nonbinary and gay early in 2021, now identifies as female and most likely bi.
She has also changed her name again – to Journey this time – and I happen to love it. The name perfectly reflects her life and how she lives it.
I’m not entirely shocked by this recent announcement. Journey has had a very close best-friendship with a boy for a while now, and I was pretty sure it was more than a friendship.
That said, I also won’t be surprised if things evolve again. Kids are growing and learning all the time – heck, we all are. Just because an LGBTQIA+ identity or label may change, doesn’t mean it wasn’t real in the first place. It just means that young people are figuring themselves out as they go. That’s as it should be.
As a parent, I’ll admit changing pronouns for someone you love takes effort. It’s not like we switched to they/them pronouns overnight last year; it took hard work and practice to remember and use the right pronouns. Now that Journey is using she/her pronouns again, it will take a little practice to get back into that groove.
We knew our child as she/her for 11 years; then I spent a year cementing they/them into my mind and heart. But bottom line, we listen to Journey and follow her guidance when it comes to which pronouns fit her best!
It makes sense that someone who identified as gender fluid might have seasons where she feels more female, like right now. And who knows – maybe Journey will feel female for the rest of her life. But if she switches back to nonbinary or gender fluid, or if she decides to ultimately transition to male, it’s all fine with us. We’ll celebrate them always.
Just as we were happy to support and celebrate Journey when she originally came out, likewise we’re totally on board with the understanding that, at the tender age of almost 12, there are a lot of things changing at once. Nothing seems permanent. And we’re all very thankful that middle school isn’t permanent!
I’ve seen some people react to young LGBTQIA+ people’s identity and name changes with skepticism or annoyance – as if none of this was real in the first place and it’s all just made up. As someone with a front-row seat, I truly don’t believe that is the case.
Journey isn’t doing any of this to jerk us around, get attention or make family dinner table conversations more challenging. On the contrary, she’s working to figure out who she is and which identity labels and name make the most sense to match how she feels inside. She’s learning to color with the entire box of crayons, instead of just the pink or just the blue. That is something to be admired, not ridiculed.
Have you ever heard the expression that kids don’t act up – they simply act out what’s going on inside of them?
This is certainly true for LGBTQIA+ kiddos. I met a grandmother recently who shared that her trans grandson had changed his name six times before finally landing on the perfect name. If that happens with Journey, so be it. Although I have to admit I like Journey even more than the birth name we gave her.
Women in this country still change their last names when they get married even though we should know better, as it’s an archaic and sexist custom. If the majority of people seem fine with that outdated and patriarchal practice, why should anyone mind if a young person wants to change their name to better reflect who they are inside?
Look, none of this is up to us – it’s not our identity or name that’s in question. It’s up to our children to decide what is true and right for them. It’s our job as parents to support and celebrate them for exactly who they are.
Because who they are is awesome.