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From Jockstrap to LipGloss

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Diane Nelson is facing a challenge in her personal life that transcends fiction yet is something a lot of people around the world face every day.

I hope this piece brings hope and positivity to those of you read it. Diane is not only a concerned and supportive mum but she’s also a well known and loved author. Diane has been writing for over 25 years across a variety of genres – contemporary romance, romantic comedy, chicklit and contemporary young adult fantasy containing dragons.

She is a lifelong equestrienne who has competed in dressage and distance riding. Her love affair with dragons began as a young child and continues unabated. She lives in Pennsylvania with her son, horses, cats, chickens.

We’d like to say bravo to Diane and Firstborn for embarking on this journey together and Divine Magazine is honoured that they chose to share their story with us – and with you.


From Jockstrap to LipGloss The Chronicles of a Bewildered Mom

The how was easy: the coming out or whatever one wishes to call it. It was less a proclamation than a simple statement, there in the hotel room as we prepared to join the frolickers at Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s a pop culture celebration of all things nerdy, like ComicCon in NYC and San Diego. We dress up, Firstborn and I, the venue encouraging the freedom to be outrageous and creative, so we indulge in corsets and wigs and shoes we’ll regret as we pound the pavement and wait in interminable lines to gawk at our heroes.

I tightened the corset and eyed the application of makeup, offering my less than helpful suggestions, when out of the blue, the son who twirled before me asked, “You do know what this means, don’t you?”

“Um, sure.” You look nice? You look way better than me. That lip gloss is killer. Love the fancy nails.

He smiled. “I thought you’d have figured it out by now.”

Figured it out? Wait… what?

Of course, we were late for the panels, so we hustled out, leaving me with my head spinning and pretty sure I didn’t have a clue. But that’s not quite right. I did have that clue, I always had. But I tend to be gender and race neutral. People are what they make themselves to be. It’s all good. And whatever Firstborn wanted to do or be was fine, especially since—for as long as I can remember—we’d always had each other’s backs, come hell or high water.

So, after mulling it over and realizing the world hadn’t ended, I tried piecing together all the bits I’d missed, especially the recent ones. There was nothing earth-shattering, little that stood out in hindsight. I mostly remember the smirk he carried that momentous day, the gently teasing demeanor, the virtual pat on the arm… “It’s gonna be okay, Mom. Don’t worry about it.”

But I did, and I do—for reasons that will make sense when I tell you the son I had, at age 45, decided to become the daughter I never knew I had. A son established in a career, a son with a distinguished record of competition in his chosen equine sports of competitive trail and endurance racing. A son with whom I’d shared triumphs and tragedies. A son I live with. A son who has, with great patience and unending kindness and understanding, accepted our changing roles as I age. A son who will become an eventual caregiver.

A son who is brave and worthy. A son who has way better fashion sense than I ever will. A son I love unconditionally.

Somehow, in those intervening years, I’d been blind to all the hints, the behaviors, the whispered nuances of a person living a lie, living an image that no longer fit. Hell, it never fit, and I knew that, I did, but it never occurred to me to sit down and ask the questions that might have made it easier for him to say, “Hey, Mom, this son gig, it ain’t working for me.” And I would have said, “Fine. What do you want to do about it? What can we do about it?”

This is a sea change, a truly life-altering reversal of how we think and talk and act—with each other and with everyone else—and it will require more from both of us than just wrapping our heads around this new reality. There are consequences I’m learning about, prejudices barely fathomable—from both the straight and the gay communities—and social barricades and stumbling blocks that will test our mutual will and resolve.

So much is set in stone for her, so many obstacles stand in the way, that it boggles my mind that she had the intestinal fortitude to finally acknowledge who she is, who she wants to be, and how far she wants to take this transformation.

This is a tortuous journey for her, involving many frightening choices, and with unknown outcomes. She’s taken the first steps, coming out not just to me, but to her colleagues at work and her many riding friends (who knew before I did). I’m not privy to their reactions, or the inevitable gossip, and Firstborn holds stuff close to the vest, so I can only stay alert to potential issues and be willing to listen.

I feel a huge measure of guilt for being blind to the obvious for so long, and I still hesitate to talk about it, not because of embarrassment or insecurity, but because I haven’t developed a vocabulary or a template for how to react or restructure a way of behaving, a way of thinking about the single most important person in my world. Over forty-five years, there are habits that developed that won’t be so easy to switch off, no matter how committed we both are to positive changes.

For now, all I know is that the son who graced my life continues to do so but with a fabulous sense of style and a new measure of hard-earned freedom that truly brings joy to my heart.

I know this isn’t my story to tell, but it’s a story I’ve been gifted to experience alongside my daughter, Rowena. And, now and again, I’d like to share with you some of the trials and travails of being a trans-person in a rigidly binary social caste system.

From a mom’s point of view…


Diane Nelson

From the Editor : Diane will be sharing her story with us bit by bit. Please subscribe to Divine Magazine to be kept up to date with new posts. 

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