"My mum is a superwoman for how she dealt with her two 'sons' becoming her two daughters"
"All any child wants is a parent to love them, care for them and protect them."
Dublin based YouTuber and blogger Jamie O'Herily this week wrote a letter to her mother, Sarah, thanking for her for the support she has given her while she was transitioning, and continues to give her throughout life.
Writing for Irish social enterprise ShareJoy, Jamie shares her story of coming out as transgender alongside sister Chloe, and the unwavering support the pair received from their mother.
You can read Jamie's letter in full below.
Coming out as Transgender can be difficult for a lot of people and at times it was for me, but when I look back at my coming out one thing rings true. I couldn’t have done it without the unconditional love and full support of my Mum. Her name is Sarah, she is like a best friend and mum rolled into one. She is a mother and a father. She is everything I need and without her I would be lost.
All any child wants is a parent to love them, care for them and protect them. That’s the basics. As we develop, we have greater needs. Not only to be loved but to be loved unconditionally, to be cared for no matter what life throws at us and to be protected even though we are learning to protect ourselves. The world can be cruel, and it can be isolating despite sharing the planet with eight billion others. Personally, when times are tough, or the trolls online are getting to me I always turn to my mum. She knows how to help me deal with it and move past the negativity.
I came out as transgender in 2015 and I was so frightened at first but when I was assured that I would always have my mum’s love and support I faced the world head on. I made a video for my followers and distant family, it was called “I am Transgender”. The video gained a lot of attention and soon after my story was worldwide. Not just because I was trans but because my sister Chloe was also transgender too.
My mum is a superwoman for how she dealt with the fact that her two “sons” would now be her daughters. She just let us know that we were her children and if we were happy, healthy and not hurting anyone she was happy. She helped us through our deed poll process (the process of changing one’s name) and she guided us through getting our gender recognition certificates. She also drove us to our first appointment for the gender identity clinic and waited patiently with us. She did all the interviews that were set up for us even though she was nervous. She even went to Trans Pride in Brighton in 2018!
My mum was there from the beginning, not just for these important times but when we were kids and wanted to play with dolls and other 'girls toys', or dance around with dresses on, calling ourselves Britney and Chloe. She knew we needed to explore our femininity and do what our friends were doing. There was no judgement or laughing and looking back it brings tears to my eyes thinking of what a kind and beautiful soul she was then and is now.
Dressing up and playing with barbies wasn’t something every parent could just accept for their child who was assigned male at birth, so I think by our mum being so accepting lead us to be free in ourselves and explore that side of us. (Not that I think barbies or dresses should be for only one gender, clothes are clothes and toys are toys.)
Transitioning is extremely tough. Physically and mentally it can be draining, and it’s isolating. Even when you have people around you supporting you, it is still a very personal journey that only you can really understand. With saying that, just having someone there to help you through the feelings and just listening can be very helpful. My mum did that. For the last 5 years she has been through the ups and downs with us and not to sugar coat it, times were difficult, but her love and support was unwavering.
We lost the patriarch to our family in 2017, our grandad, and our family fell apart. He was the love and joy of the family and my mum’s best friend. He was like a father figure to Chloe and I, so it was very hard on all of us when he passed away. Sometimes it felt like our other family members resented us for sharing our story so publicly and felt that my granny had enough to deal with without turning on her tv or opening the newspaper to see us there expressing our true selves for the world to see. It was hurtful, and to this day some family members still misgender me. (Misgendering someone is calling them 'he' instead of 'she' or visa versa, and it’s very upsetting to most trans individuals).
I don’t tolerate it anymore and I use my voice to speak up to them. That causes a lot of friction within the family, but I can’t be anyone else and I wont have someone disrespect me or what I’ve been through to be myself. Even though it’s hard on my mum she is still constantly on my side and that makes me feel like wherever I go and whatever I do she will be there in my corner. This journey seems less lonely because of her.
To all the mothers out there who may be reading this, please ask yourself what would you do if your child came out as LGBT+? Would you love them unconditionally? Care for them no matter what life throws their way? Would you protect them from the evil and hate that is out there? Would you be like Sarah?
I hope you would because even though sometimes life is still a struggle, I would NOT be the woman I am today if it weren’t for my mum and the love and support she has given me and Chloe from day one.
And with that I say thank you mum, I love you to infinity and beyond.