One Mom’s Journey from Clueless to Kickass
In 1992, Julie Tarney’s only child, Harry, told her, “Inside my head I’m a girl.” He was two years old.
She had no idea what that meant. She felt disoriented even trying to process it. Wasn’t it her role to encourage and support her child? But surely she had to set some limits to his self-expression—or did she? Would he be bullied? What kind of guidance would he need? Could she do the right thing? And what was the right thing?
The internet was no help, because there was no internet. And there were zero books for a mom scrambling to understand a toddler who had definite ideas about his gender, regardless of how Nature had endowed him. Terms such as transgender, gender nonconforming, and gender creative were rare or nonexistent.
There were, however, mainstream experts who theorized that a “sissy” boy was the result of a domineering mother. Julie couldn’t believe it. She didn’t want to care what the macho dads in her neighborhood thought, but she did care. “Domineering mother” meant controlling mother. It meant bad mother. It meant her mother.
Lacking a positive role model of her own, and fearful of being judged as a mom who was making her son “too feminine,” Julie embarked on an unexpected parenting path. Despite some stumbles, she learned to rely on her instincts. She listened carefully, kept an open mind, and as long as Harry was happy, she let him lead the way. Julie eventually recognized that Harry knew who he was all along. Her job was simply to love him unconditionally, get out of the way, and let him be his authentic self. In the process she was able to embrace both his uniqueness and her own. As Harry turned 21, she looked back on the early years realizing that today she might have done a few things differently.
We know things are very different now, but it can still be a challenge to find accurate resources and support. Julie can bring this and more to companies, organizations, colleges and community groups looking for a genuine, accessible and knowledgeable voice.