This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. Learn more

A Parent’s Story and Perspective

By Jane, Sales Representative at GSK

Yesterday my incredible and brave son, Charlie, shared his thoughts on his trans identity, LGBTQ+ phobia and the impact on mental health. Today it is my turn to share.


Charlie (Not his birth name but think of a “female” name that can get shortened to it - I can no longer write it down because it feels wrong, he’s my Charlie) was born 1st January 2002.


An absolutely beautiful baby girl who brought so much joy into my world. Growing up he was a very cheeky character who was so full of fun and laughter. He was incredibly independent at an early age and often insisted on going to nursery dressed as a Fimble (some of you may remember), one of his dog costumes, a princess or even just the insistence of wearing different socks or clothes that really didn’t match… he didn’t care, he was just happy and confident. He loved animals, often during play he pretended to be a vet, he loved his train set and his Baby Annabel doll. He did so well at primary school, was surrounded by lots of friends and his teachers loved him. There was nothing during these early years that suggested what he was going to tell us years later.

Fast forward to 2014, Year 7 in High School. He was highly intelligent and was thought of incredibly highly, not only for his academic ability but also as a person. He was the one who was friends with everyone, would never get involved in any antagonistic behaviour….in fact if any children in other classes were being bullied, they always asked if they could move to Charlie’s class because they knew he would never judge anyone and would always be a good friend.



Towards the end of year 7, at the end of March, the beginning of April 2014, I noticed changes in Charlie. He restricted his eating, was getting withdrawn and I found out he had self-harmed. At the same time, my youngest son, Josh (age 3) was diagnosed with very aggressive cancer. Alongside ours, his life was turned upside down. Charlie's eating continued to be restricted and despite getting help early, it took a while to get a diagnosis of an eating disorder. Thankfully we were told Josh was in remission but Charlie’s life continued to spiral until ultimately he ended up as an inpatient in a mental health unit for 9 months to help him recover from his eating disorder. He was tiny and vulnerable and had a monster controlling him. It was heartbreaking- we came so close to losing him – thank goodness we didn’t.


Leading up to his discharge from the unit, he was building up to telling me something. I was getting scared of what it could be. Finally, in August 2015, he found the courage to tell us he was gay, at which point we wrapped our arms around him and told him how much he was loved, and he never needed to worry about telling us anything.


Forward then to January 2016, I had a text which said “Mum I have gender dysphoria” – the first thing I had to do was Google what that meant – then once again I wrapped my arms around him and told him he was loved unconditionally and we would support him.


I looked in control on the outside but on the inside, I was a mess. What did this mean? Could it just be a phase? What will I say to people? Will people understand? Will he get bullied? and many more questions that flew through my head.


The first thing he requested was for us to start using he/him pronouns and a different name. We settled on Charlie for that time and I’m so pleased that stuck because it really suits him. Using the correct pronouns was TOUGH! For 14 years I had had a little girl and had used she/her. I REALLY struggled to get my head around it. I wanted to for his sake, but I was finding it hard, in fact, it was incredibly emotional for me. It’s hard to admit but I felt like I was losing my little girl, she was all I had ever known, and I was almost mourning her. Instead of saying he/him I would use his name or they/their. But I could see what this was doing to Charlie. He had asked one simple thing from us and we couldn’t do it, yet he had found such bravery and courage to be able to tell us he was transgender and we owed it to him to support him in every way we could. Once I had a good talking to myself and put everything into perspective, I realised Charlie will always be Charlie, he hadn’t changed. He’s still the same amazing, funny, intelligent, talented, caring, completely awesome child. I hadn’t lost my daughter; I had gained a son. Using the correct pronouns became much easier.


I won’t pretend it's been easy and watching him struggle as he shared his story, has broken my heart a million times. We all want to do everything we can to protect our children and hearing about what he was going through hurt me deeply. Every time he was misgendered on purpose or even by accident I saw the impact. He withdrew from the world to his room where he probably felt safer and surrounded himself with online friends who accepted him for him. He self-harmed, had suicidal thoughts and we have had to go to A&E on a couple of occasions to keep him safe. We have had some very scary times.


The UK waiting list for Gender Identity services is approximately 2 years before they can even speak to someone. Even when we finally got seen, there was very little help and support and he is currently on a waiting list for adult Gender Identity services (over a year so far). Meanwhile, Charlie can’t be his true authentic self and be fully accepted by society and he absolutely deserves that. Every time he leaves the house he has to wear a binder to flatten his chest, which is painful, he has to deal with what we consider “female” monthly problems which makes him so dysphoric, he’s faced with being misgendered, people staring at him and even shouting out obscenities to him. All I want is for him to live the life he truly deserves.


We supported him by changing his name via the deed poll, which helped him a lot and now it feels wrong to ever refer to his birth name or by she/her. We nailed the pronouns, which we just had to make a conscious effort towards. Friends and family have been phenomenal, and we have had nothing but support. He still struggles but with our support he’s doing okay, and I just know that one day it will come good. We have our next generations, such as Josh who adapted incredibly quickly and very matter of factly corrects anyone who says he has a sister very proudly by saying he did have and now he’s my brother. I am an incredibly proud mum of incredible children.


I hope by sharing our stories, it will bring more awareness for the transgender community and more acceptance and understanding. If anyone wants to ever reach out to understand more, or just need to talk, please get in touch. We must keep talking and break the stigma.

An illustration of Charlie

This is a personal article and is not published on behalf of GSK


GSK is committed to fair, equal employment opportunity and inclusion of all employees regardless of race/ ethnicity/ national origin, gender/gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion/ belief, marriage/ civil partnership status, age and / or socio-economic status.  


Share this

myGwork is best used with the app