Unfortunately, her bio family and former foster homes were not very open-minded and she feared telling us how she really felt at first. However, after over six months of living with us and meeting all of our friends, including a fair number of GLBTQ friends, then learning that we, her new parents, were bisexual, she finally came out to us.
We honestly weren't really prepared, though we should have been. We'd discussed what we would do if any of our children ever came out as homosexual. We had been members of several GLBTQ organizations in the past and this topic was one that came up all the time.
We knew that she loved pink and purple, that she liked both boys and girls, that she loved horses, unicorns, and Pegasus, but we didn't expect her to come out as female. We suspected she might be gay or bisexual, but didn't think she even knew what a transgendered person was.
One day, while driving home from errands, she said, "Mom, can I be a girl when I grow up?" Without missing a beat, I told her that she could be a girl right now if she wanted and that it would make being a girl later in life easier if she chose to start living that way now.
That was the beginning of her journey and we've supported her throughout it these past few months. We talked about Caitlyn's transition, we showed her pictures of beautiful transgendered people, we talked about stigmas and bullying, we talked about the physical changes that were possible with modern medicine, most of all we talked about how it made her feel to be a girl.
When we went shopping for her first dress, we were worried that we'd get trouble from other customers or sales people and were prepared to defend our little girl if that happened. It didn't.
In fact a nice lady at the goodwill store helped her pick out a comfortable pink cotton dress covered in butterflies and explained why white wasn't a good choice to wear every day. Another wonderful woman near the handbags helped her pick out a little pink leather bag, as she shopped for one to wear to an upcoming festival for herself. Not one person raised an eyebrow at our conversations through our day of shopping. Our daughter is very loud and kept talking to everyone and telling them very excitedly that she was going to become a girl.
The very next morning she came downstairs bedecked in pink and butterflies. She was beaming. We'd never seen her look so confident and happy.
Still, there were so many things to fear. Summer camp was coming up, we had to choose a name for our adoption, and what if the foster agency or social services office was not as open-minded as we were?
What if she gets beaten up at camp? We homeschool, so we weren't so worried about school or after school programs. We also live in the middle of the forest in a community of about 700 people, far from the city, so we weren't worried about running in to bullies at local parks. However, we were concerned that she would experience it at some time and we knew the suicide statistics for transgendered folks.
Right now, we are taking it as it comes. We are researching and learning everything we can about what it is like to be transgendered, the things we need to teach her to deal with, what the current movements are fighting for, etc.
All we can do is give her the tools to stand up for and advocate for herself but she won't be alone. She has a huge family, who supports and loves her and an amazing community that cares for her as well.
We hope that will be enough.