In 1998 my mother, Cindy Cunningham, had a sex change. My mom, Randy Cunningham, now lives in Washington, legally a man, married to Ann Paris-Cunningham. My older brother and I came to terms with this at different times in different ways. One thing, looking back, that we both recognize, is that “RJ” was quite a fan of movies where gender roles were switched, such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Mr. Mom. This didn’t really help with dealing with a parent having a sex change, but luckily they were good movies (at least those two were).
It is hard to describe how I currently think. I guess simultaneously I recognize RJ as my mother and as a “regular” person I am friends with. I dealt with this situation in a few steps:
1. Shock. Seriously… THIS IS CRAZY!
2. Realization that this is not my decision. This is the most important part. My mom’s decision to “become a man” does not affect who I am at the core (there are lots of lessons to learn, but the physical act itself does not change who I am).
3. Acceptance in love. Whether you agree with someone or not you can still love them. While I would never look at my mother the same again, I had a decision to make about our relationship. And I decided to maintain a good relationship with my parent, a parent who still cares about me and adds value to my life.
Transsexuals tend to be controversial in every circle, gay/straight and religious/secular. But, having one in your life does not have to be as disruptive. While it does provide for interesting conversation when new people ask about my family, it is not something that damaged me or my life.