‘I gave birth to identical twins. But I have a son and a daughter.’
I’m the proud mother of identical twins.
My son and daughter made their arrival 11 years ago prematurely, as expected, due to having twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome – a condition experienced by identical twins (or higher-order multiple gestations) where, in this case, their common placenta was shared unequally, which resulted in my daughter being significantly smaller than her brother.
I’m guessing that by now parents of multiples would have picked up that there is something odd about my story – perhaps you think I’m confused about the difference between identical twins and fraternal?
Because you can’t have boy/girl identical twins, can you? Identical multiples are always the same gender, right?
When I brought my babies home from hospital, I was in no doubt I had two identical sons and their birth certificates listed them as male. For the first three or four years of their lives, they were my ‘lads’ – they dressed in similar jeans and jumpers, and enjoyed pulling on their gumboots to go play in the mud on our little farm.
Then one of them started showing an interest in all things ‘girly,’ and I was okay with that. It was just a phase, I thought. So teddy bears, Barbies, and playing with my clothes and jewellery became ‘his’ thing. At playgroup one of the twins was always in the sandpit with the trucks, the other in the dress-up corner wanting to wear the tutus.
At about six years of age, my child first told me he was going to be a girl when he grew up, that he would have a sex-change operation.
I have to be honest: It scared me so much to hear that. Not because I loved my child any less, or thought that something was ‘wrong’ with my child, but because I feared how others would perceive and treat my precious child. Like most parents I want my child to grow up to be safe, have opportunities, be loved and cared for — and in that moment, all I could imagine was a very difficult life that I didn’t want for my child.
At this stage, if I had taken my child to a psychologist or psychiatrist to be evaluated, I have no doubt my child would have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (she has been diagnosed more recently), which is a medical term for having significant discontent with the sex and gender a person was assigned at birth.
For the next five years, my child lived a double life, dressing in preferred feminine clothes at home and as a boy when outside the home. Both twins were doing really well at school and had lots of positive childhood experiences, but their interests were very different – and their friendship groups were markedly different. One had all male friends and the other all female friends. I guess we were still waiting for the phase to end… but it didn’t.
Last year my child became more insistent and outspoken about her desire to be recognised as a girl. She has always been very clear on who she is and never shy to be her true self. I have a great admiration for her capacity to be honest and open with others about how she sees things. She can be very determined and has a keen sense of what is just and unjust, which has resulted in her recently announcing she would be acting as her brother’s ‘lawyer’ in all future family disputes. Quite a daunting proposition for this mum, but her brother is delighted.
As a parent it was an incredibly difficult decision to make, whether to allow her to exist in the world as the girl she knows herself to be, or force her to remain closeted about her identity beyond the safety of our home.