"I don’t know how to ask this, but um," my friend said to me.
"Just ask," I interrupted.
"Well, my boss is in a strange place and I was wondering if you could talk to him. He just found out this his little girl, er boy, er well, he found out that one of his children is transgender. You’re the only person I know that’s Trans and just by knowing you, it’s helped me a lot, so I just thought maybe you could talk to him."
"Of course," I said and he gave me the number.
I texted the man and we began a dialogue. We decided to meet at one of those gourmet sandwich shops.
Now I’m not one for public places, but this was something I felt I needed to do.
I waited by the end of the line, watching to see if anyone walked in matching the description I had been given. Then he arrived.
I could see by the look on his face that he was trying to find someone as well, so I waved and he waved back. He walked up to join me in line.
We exchanged pleasantries as we went through the line ordering our food.
Ken told me that he had attended seminary courses and that this was so counter to everything he had been taught and to the religion he had chosen.
As we sat and ate our meal, he told me the story of how he found out his child was transgender.
Let me first tell you a few other things about Ken and his family. His wife suffers from MS. He started riding in the local Bike MS event, calling his fundraising efforts Ride For My Bride. His youngest daughter has slight Asperger’s Syndrome. Ken is doing well for himself which is good because life has given him many people to support. People who need him dearly.
Ashur, as Ken would come to learn, is the name of his son. In Hebrew it means Blessed.
As "Kendra", "she" was the epitome of the girly girl. At one point "she" even owned every Disney princess dress!
Everything seemed normal.
Then one day "Kendra" told them that "she" was gay. Not many months after that, "she" asked to be called "Kasey" which would eventually become Ashur. From there it progressed to cutting. It became so bad that they took "her" to the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.
While there, they suggested that Ken and his family sweep Ashur’s room for anything unusual.
What they found was a suicide note.
This is the moment they learned that their son was Transgender.
They confronted Ashur and learned that he had indeed already attempted his plan weeks ago and it had failed. The note made clear that if Ashur couldn’t be who he felt inside, there was no point in living.
Take heed of that. When a person is making it known that they wish to take their own life, they are asking for help. When they say nothing, they’ve given up hope.
In the bustle of everything happening they realized that they needed to bring Ashur some clothes.
They went into his room to gather some for him. Of course, all that was there were clothes for girls.
As they went off their checklist of needs, they came to underwear.
Ken went to get some from Ashur’s drawer but noticed something odd.
"There was nothing there," he told me. "All the girl panties were gone and nowhere to be found. I don’t know what this kid was doing, walking around commando?! We couldn’t find anything anywhere!"
So his wife suggested they go to the department store to purchase new clothes for their son.
"I thought, ‘well this is as good a time as any,’" Ken said.
When they got to the underwear aisle, they were at a loss.
"I didn’t know what the kid would want, you know?" Ken said. "I mean, we never had this talk. Boxers, briefs, boxer briefs… so we decided to just get him a couple pairs of each and let him decide."
They purchased other clothes for boys while there. It was a new experience for them, picking out clothes for their son, but as they went along they found it calmed them and brought normalcy to the situation. They began to enjoy it.
"Batman or superman? Spider-Man or Ninja Turtles? Suddenly there were so many choices in front of me that I realized I didn’t even know my son," Ken said.
After packing everything into a bag, they brought it to Ashur at the hospital.
"When he opened that bag," began Ken, "his eyes lit up like nothing I had ever seen. I hadn’t seen a smile on his face like that in ages. He had never been so happy. It was that moment that I knew. This is my boy. I don’t care what anyone has to say. When I saw that look on his face, I knew what I had to choose and I chose my son."
It was all I could do to hold back my tears in that restaurant. It was something I wished I had heard my own father say.
"You know, I may not understand being transgender, in fact I know I never will," Ken said. "But I understand this, that’s my child and I would rather have a life with my son than a tombstone with my daughter’s name on it."
Parents, please see it as such. If your child has the courage to come to you and tell you that they are transgender, then honor that. If you are not open enough with your children then they may fear telling you in the first place. Talk to professionals. Seek help. Remember, this is your child we are talking about. The one you gave life to. Someone you love.
I’m not a parent, but I think it’s safe to say that no parent wants to find their child’s suicide note.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
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