Kayleigh Wrigley is one of our Family Support Workers in Blackpool. Her son transitioned at a young age. In this blog for LGBT History Month, Kayleigh explains how her lived experience with her son has been a tool she has and will continue to use at SHS.
My son didn’t transition overnight. It was never something I was confronted with and was shocked by. It was something that I grew to understand over a period of time.
When he was two he refused to wear dresses. I remember making him wear a tutu to a party – and seeing how upset he was. “I’ll never do that again,” I thought at the time. At age four he cut his hair off – that’s when it became real for me.
Before he went into reception, I asked him if he wanted to go to school as a boy or as a girl. When he said “as a boy” I realised that this was his future. It was then that we went to the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, who specialise in gender identity.
Using my lived experience at SHS
It wasn’t easy as a parent. There was a grieving process for me. I remember being locked in the house, crying. I felt angry at times and blamed myself. But I also realised that I had to be a support for my son. He wasn’t going to wake up the next day and change. I just had to be there for him and support him.
I have been able to use my own lived experience as the parent of a trans child in my work at School-Home Support. One of the mothers I have worked with was having difficulties with their child, who was self-harming and saying that they wanted to be the gender opposite to their birth gender. I helped to refer them to information on the Mermaids website and also advised that, should the child make a decision to transition, to go to the Tavistock and Portman Trust.
The Blackpool team always come to me for advice on LGBT+ issues. Everyone in the team have their own expertise – and this is mine. Since we started working in Blackpool I’ve been able to help four families with advice on the process of transitioning. I’m sure I’ll continue to be a source of information for other parents in the area in the future.
My son’s Primary School was fantastic and very open to learn. I was so grateful for that. I do believe that many Primary Schools in the country need more training on trans identities in order to respond to the needs of the children coming through their doors every day.
There are so many resources out there that it can be intimidating. I’ve listed a few below for people to look into:
- URPotential – they run LGBT support groups for people aged 10 to 25 (this is for those on the Flyde Coast – but during lockdown they have extended this around the country).
- Mermaids – a fantastic charity that have been supporting transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families since 1995.
- Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust – they run the country’s gender identity development service (GIDS) for children and young people who experience difficulties in the development of their gender identity.