Understanding Gender by a Loving Mother

I’m Amber. I was born and raised in western Massachusetts and returned here shortly after graduating college to raise a family of my own. For 13 years I thought I was a boy mom. After all, I had two boys. Or, so I thought.

When my daughter transitioned, I was scared. She’s my baby and I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. I feared we’d lose people we love and cared about. I cried for 23 days straight from the day she told me and probably 300 of the following year.

¬© Sandra Costello 2017It was hard. I was a business owner and I networked with a lot of women who knew I had two sons, because we connected as mothers. I didn’t know how I could continue in this role. It took me nine days to write a letter to my parents. But all of this time I watched my daughter blossom, creating her own style, feeling the freedom to be herself. I’m so proud of her. And you know what? We’ve all been accepted and loved.

I feel so lucky to live in the Pioneer Valley community that seemingly accepts people for who they are, and I’m incredibly thankful for the Speaker Sisterhood for offering me the space and opportunity to find my voice and be heard. 

Why did you choose this subject?

The topic of gender has been on my mind since my daughter, Alice came out almost two years ago. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my own thoughts and feelings around gender and how our society sets expectations on each of us from the moment we are born. I believe being defined solely by our genitals at birth is wrong. I want to bring awareness to this disconnect in the hopes that someday everyone will accept others for who they are.

Why do women in the community need to hear it?

Initially, I had a lot of anxiety around sharing this speech publicly, however I felt it was an important message for others to hear. My fear stems from potential critics and haters because we all know they exist in this world, but my words are not for them. I’m speaking to the people in our community who are open to hearing stories that may challenge their own limited beliefs.

I want other women, especially mothers of transgender children, to hear this speech and know they are not alone. Although staying silent may feel like the “safe” thing to do at first, I now know that speaking up has expanded our community and deepened relationships with people we love.

My goal is to educate and offer another perspective — especially to those who may be walking in the same shoes I put on July 31, 2016. By sharing my experience, I hope to help change the negative stigma that surrounds the transgender community and create space for everyone in our society to freely express their true self.

WHMP celebrates Women’s History Month in a series of women speaking their truth, produced by WHMP News Director Denise Vozella, who leads a speaking club for women in Northampton, as part of the Speaker Sisterhood. The Speaker Sisterhood provides a community to women who want to discover, awaken, and create their voice through the art of public speaking.