Courage Family Wisdom

Being a “Proud” mom

My eldest child, Everette (they/he) is a force to be reckoned with – always has been. To say they are my pride and joy would be an understatement.

I recently read a LinkedIn post that said we are supposed to identify our readers “pain” up front. Today, I’m writing about the hurt we can unwittingly bestow on those we love most, and how we can do better when we take the time to ask questions and most important of all listen to the answers we’re given.

My eldest child, Everette (they/he) is a force to be reckoned with – always has been. To say they are my pride and joy would be an understatement. They are like a lamp post for me, a steady guide, shedding light on so many things I need to know and do better. Some have used the old cliché to describe the two of us – “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” – but I’m not sure whose tree has cultivated the most fruit in this relationship. I consider it an honour to be in Everette’s shadow and light as their mother.

My eldest, Everette Fournier, is a guiding light for me and many others. In 2022, we worked side by side leading a diverse and inclusive arts festival in Kenora, Ontario, Canada.

Everette, who identifies as trans, non-binary is an interdisciplinary artist living in Toronto. While they came out to their father and I a few years ago, I now know they have been on this journey for most of their life.

How didn’t I know this?

I failed to see that Everette’s obsession with dressing up, that eventually shifted to wearing baggier clothes and performing in drag once they were away from home attending university, was really a pushback against the gender dysphoria  that was part and parcel of being an attractive girl and young woman. How could they want to be anything else?

I cringe now when I think about the failed ballerina bedroom decor I foisted upon them in their childhood. Ev hated that room, but at the time, it never occurred to me to ask why. A few years later, I quietly railed against their decision to give up ballet for soccer.

I unknowingly snipped their wings over and over. As we talk about it now, it pains me to have to admit this. I simply didn’t see and by doing that, made all kinds of assumptions about the trajectory of their life.

Trans individual in drag makeup, wearing a red blazer and leather jacket.
Everette in drag poses for a fashion magazine mockup.

When Ev moved thousands of miles away to go to university, things started to change, which at the time, I credited to them experimenting as part of a much more diverse and creative community. I again stayed silent, leaving it to them to do all the emotional labour of explaining what was happing for them to me and their dad. 

Now as I look back – and have had more of these conversation with Ev – I can’t imagine how hard this must have been to do while they were struggling themselves to figure out their own identity.

You’d think I would have learned things after a few years, but I’ll admit, I’m a work in progress. I just recently was assigned an article about diversity and asked Ev for an interview. They agreed but after some back and forth, it became clear I was asking them questions for a paid contract, I should have been asking all along.

My first reaction was What? Haven’t we already talked about this? But no, we hadn’t. I had once again put Ev in the position where they were having to do all the heavy lifting to help me understand.

Our queer children have enough burdens just getting through the day in this complex and often unwelcoming world. While we might think society has come a long way, let’s be honest. We have a hell of a long way to go.

I know I’m not alone when I say, I just want to do right by my kid, so they don’t feel they have to hide anymore.

Person holding a hat in front of their face, wearing a mean's baser and skirt.
As part of their textile design practice, Ev explores infinite possibilities to “suit’ their trans masc identity.

With full credit to Ev – who I do not speak for – here’s a few things I’ve learned:

  • Start conversations about gender and identity with your children at a young enough age so they can see past all the limitations society places on gender.
  • Be open to how your child wants to express themselves, even if it seems to contradict the gender they’ve been “assigned”.
  • Don’t make them have to explain their pronoun choices and if you screw up – which we all do – apologize and move on.
  • Don’t tell your trans child you’re mourning the loss of your “son” or daughter”. They are not dead. Instead, celebrate the person they’ve become.
  • Correct people about your loved one’s chosen pronouns and gender. Remind them that deciding they will never use your child’s preferred name or pronouns isn’t actually their choice.
  • Above all, make homecomings safe for your child. This takes a lot of thought because it may mean that some family members who cannot or will not honour their choices won’t be at the table.

I have watched Ev grow into their queerness in all it’s complicated beauty. Although they love drag, it’s also been beautiful to watch them become increasingly free of the need to dress up.

As a parent, why wouldn’t you want that for your child?

Trans person in makeup winking at the camera, urban buildings in background.
Ev in Drag for annual Trans March in Toronto, June 2024.


By Leanne

Leanne is MightyWrite’s lead writer. She believes in the power of stories that focus on our humanity and how what we bring to the world and each other is what really matters.

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