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A Family in Transition: What I Learned About Living My Truth from My Transgender Wife and Son

Updated: Mar 22

Written By: Kelly Judd, MS, CPLC



Let’s start here: I’m a cis woman. My wife is a trans woman. My son is a trans man. They both came out in 2021 and when that happened, the family I had crafted so intentionally after leaving behind an abusive first marriage became something fundamentally different than I'd ever imagined.


While I’ve always been an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, I was raised in an Evangelical Christian household in rural Indiana.


And in case you’re not familiar with that particular worldview, still held by my family of origin, I’ll summarize it for you: There’s only one way to have a family, and it’s not with two moms.

And while I never would have believed my adult self to be quite so firmly attached to my heterosexuality, finding myself in a same-gender marriage with a child whose gender identity no longer matched mine—virtually overnight—rocked my world. It truly did.


As I reflect, however, on our “season of coming out” from the safe distance of two years, I can say without hesitation that watching my family evolve into what it was always meant to be has been one of the great joys of my life.


It’s also brought us closer than I ever thought possible.


The One Way


If you watched that recent docuseries on the Duggar family, you have a decent idea of what my upbringing was like. Short of the “quiver full” and dress code, my family’s belief system closely aligned with the teachings of Bill Gothard, founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles.


Those teachings place women, depending on their marital status, in either the 4th or 5th tier of a hierarchical structure with God at the top, the pastor below, followed by the family patriarch, then the matriarch and children. Unwed women are viewed as children under the protection of their fathers until they are given to another man in marriage. The sanctity of the family—with the patriarch at its center—is seen as second only to the sanctity of the church.


Being queer or trans was absolutely never discussed and was therefore absolutely never an option. I met my first out queer folks in college and immediately felt a kinship. I began to wonder if perhaps I’d been mislabeled . . . but quickly dismissed those ideas when it became abundantly clear that my LGBT+ friends were not even welcome in my family’s home.


As I got older, started my own family, and began pushing back on some of my family’s archaic values, I found them to be just as rigid as they’d been in my teens. When I left my child’s father after 14 years, my family behaved as though I’d heartlessly abandoned a misbehaving child, not a grown man who’d taken to disappearing after work and ignoring his 10-year-old’s worried texts. And when I bought a home with my soul mate—someone 15 years my junior, to whom I was not yet married—the judgment was palpable, even as it was clear to my family that I was happier than I’d perhaps ever been.


Masks Off


Before 2021, I had never seriously considered the possibility that someone I loved deeply could be stuck in an identity that didn’t fit—one that I was reinforcing constantly through gendered ideas and assumptions about marriage, parent-child relationships, and the management of a shared household.


When my teen came out to us as trans, the relief I felt at having created an environment in which he felt completely safe doing so was immeasurable. Far too many trans kids don’t have that. My son was matter-of-fact and proud, eager to enlist our financial and emotional support in his social transition. Within weeks we saw improvements in his mood and outlook—a new lightness brought on by finally living his truth.


Not long after, when my spouse came out to me as a trans woman, I’m sure she was less confident in my complete acceptance. But as she began to reveal her beautiful, vulnerable, authentic self, I found myself with the deep sense that our marriage was finally whole. "I see you," I told her once in her early transition. "I finally see you." Soul mates are soul mates, after all. She has always been the woman I see before me now, and I have always loved her.


What was harder, as it turns out, was accepting my own truth.


The truth that I was not, am not and never will be straight. That my family of origin would never be a safe place for us. That I had to let go of the concept of my child as my "mini-me," learn to share my role as mom, and contend with a world not built for families like ours.

I wrestled with the loss of my straight privilege, fretted over coming out to coworkers (it did not go well), and began co-existing with a deep fear of what might happen to our family if the wrong folks got elected.


Coming out as queer in your 40s is not easy work. Neither is being trans or trans-adjacent. But living authentically always requires courage, and it always carries uncertainty. Despite the discomfort, stepping into our truth was the best thing that could ever have happened to us. And while the family I so lovingly crafted doesn’t look like I’d expected - if it did, I would never have had the opportunity to love these beautiful humans—or myself—so deeply and completely.


In our house, the masks are completely off. We have extremely high levels of vulnerability and trust with one another. And we have total respect for one another’s agency and individuality. In short, we are three humans who come together to form a family every day, by choice, and with intention.


How many families can say that?



 

Meet the Author

Kelly Judd, MS, CPLC

Kelly Judd, MS, CPLC is a queer life coach with one mission: to help women and LGBTQIA+ folx permanently break patterns of dysfunction and self-sacrifice to finally claim the lives they need. Kelly’s clients are empowered to create lasting change through deep inquiry and radical self-compassion.




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