Grandmother of a transgender person

Sep 07, 2022
This grandmother opens up about the complexities of having a transgender grandchild. Source: Getty

I have unwittingly been foisted into the role of a grandmother of a transgender person.

I share a challenging, confronting, and sad life journey, to educate other Grandparents, and relatives to demystify the complexities involved in this very difficult, yet topical issue.

I want Grandparents to understand how sad, painful, and alienating it is for our Grandchildren, other persons or relative we care about to be discarded and rejected by their family members. When they go through the life-changing experience of transitioning from one sex to another. They need their relatives and family to continue to love and support them.

Yet as older people, we too crave family connection and to be treated with kindness and respect.

These changes hit me in the guts and it was overwhelming for me. I have carried feminist ideals and been very pro-female, believing women can have it all.

My Granddaughter Angela transitioned from a beautiful female baby to a cute little girl, then a young woman more romantically interested in girls, to declaring themselves non-binary. Currently a handsome neatly bearded male, aged 25years. She/they started taking testosterone at age 21 and had their breasts removed at the age of 23. The testosterone therapy caused several adolescent behavioural issues along the way. Their personality changed and some of it not easily likeable or acceptable.

I found the non-binary phase of their transition the most difficult, not so much for their plain dress but the change in language using pronouns that they demanded of me to use. The language that I felt conflicted with proper English because instead of using he or she, I was to use plural gender-neutral terminology. To me, it just didn’t make sense and I had at least 18 years with my granddaughter referring to her. They became a pronoun grammar Nazi toward me.

Since then, I have found a recently published glossary of terms (1,2) when using gender-neutral language that wasn’t available to me at the time.

So yes, I was very hurt and frustrated at my severed and fragmented communication with my grandchild at the time.

I have lost my Granddaughter, and my daughter and son-in-law have also lost their daughter, and their brother has lost his sister and gained a brother, their name was Angela and now named Earl.

This transition over approximately 8 years so far, has confronted many family members and friends of Angela’s. She lost all her high school friends and other associations who would now no longer recognise them. They suffered from conditions called Dysphoria or Dysmorphia (3). These are also words I haven’t learned before, but I can guess what it is without looking them up. It’s a lack of acceptance of one’s body, even self-hatred. I know this isn’t a good state of mind for a young person of 22. Imagine the alienation, loneliness, and loss for all family members during this transition.

However, it has happened, and it has been a bloody difficult journey for all of us involved. But, we need to find the tools to accept, adjust, stay open-minded and continue to love and support those we care about. We need to help them to feel accepted and to behave as decent human beings in life.

Earl currently works in the childcare industry as an Educator of high-functioning toddlers. He is doing well and is highly respected in his work and accepted as a young male in society.

Things are a bit easier for him now, but his struggles continue. I am sure Earl would love to find a suitable partner to share their life and settle into a comfortable home and family situation. Another hurdle to overcome.


  3. (Gender dysphoria means someone feels the body they were born into doesn’t reflect their true self or who they are or identify with in terms of their gender. Body dysmorphia is a disorder that results in someone perceiving a major flaw or problem with their own body, even if that perception is not based in reality. They see themselves, or a certain aspect of themselves, as “distorted” or “ugly.” Amy Cirbus Ph.D, LMHC, LPC Jul 23, 2021)

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