Have you ever taken a step back and wondered if you’re actually on the right path? Ever had a slight moment of panic because for some reason you suddenly felt lost? Do you ever just stop and think ‘who am I?’?
Self-discovery isn’t something that’s reserved for people of a certain age group. Just like an emotional rollercoaster, the process can happen at any time, no matter how young or old a person is. Medibank Partnership Co-ordinator and LGBTI Ally Heidi’s son, Charlie, is proof of this because, like many others out there, he feels he was born in the wrong body and is now on the journey to become who he feels he truly is.
15-year-old Charlie was born a female and it was in April 2017 that he found the courage to come out as a Non-Binary, Gender Fluid person, asking to be referred to as them/their/they. Recently, though, Charlie has been identifying himself towards more of a trans man and has asked to be referred to as he/him/his. Heidi says that getting used to the new norm was something that took a while.
“We found this a very difficult process but wanted to support Charlie as best as we could. He received a referral to the Lady Cilento Gender Clinic in Brisbane and started the counselling process with a psychologist.”
Heidi with Charlie as a child.
Just like all parents whose children are going through major life transitions, Heidi also has her worries but is determined to be of utmost support for her son.
“My biggest concern is the future and jumping into major life decisions too quickly. I run different scenarios through my head like Charlie finding a life partner and having children. I just hope that he finds his true self and has no regrets in the end.”
Heidi and Charlie before starting his transition.
Not everyone who goes through a transition is lucky enough to have a strong support network around them. The importance of family and friends, as well as accessible resources within the community, cannot be emphasised enough. Quite often, a lack of support ties in with a lack of knowledge, so it’s vital that there be the ongoing help and care out in the community.
“I think the support for LGBTI youth is fantastic in Brisbane. When Charlie first came out to me, I contacted an old counsellor of his and they gave me plenty of great resources. There’s also a youth service called ‘Open Doors’, which runs a drop-in centre for LGBTI youth, as well as a bi-monthly support group for parents, which is just amazing.”
Charlie is now on a journey to discover his true self.
According to Heidi, when a child begins their transition journey, their parents, guardians, and carers also have a responsibility of their own. Owning the journey as much as their children is an important aspect to making the whole process as smooth as it can be.
“We need to learn to reach out for support because there are resources out there. Get your child the right help so you know that one day they will have all the knowledge and help they need to make the right decisions for themselves. Discuss with them about having an open mind and to be comfortable in seeking guidance in their self-discovery.”
Charlie says he knows he has the full support and love from his family.
Medibank is a strong advocate not just for the LGBTI community but diversity and inclusion as a whole. Since joining the company, Heidi has been able to see firsthand how much dedication the business puts into making sure people from all backgrounds and of all abilities feel included and supported.
“I think Medibank is doing an amazing job, constantly raising awareness for the LGBTI community and doing whatever they can to reinforce the significance of accepting others for who they are, what that means, and how much that can impact someone’s life.”
Out of everything that has happened, that is happening and that will happen, Heidi, most of all, would like for Charlie to turn out to be a good person, despite any challenges and any expectations that society might have. She also wants him to know that no matter how life turns out, he will always have his mum there by his side.
“I hope this expands Charlie’s resilience and compassion for other people. Whatever the future brings, I know I will have raised an open person who will never criticise others because of their beliefs and feelings. We are at the start of a long emotional journey but I know that I will always love my baby. It doesn’t matter if he keeps identifying as a male or later on decides something else, love is love. Simple as that.”
Heidi says the most important thing to her is that Charlie remains an open person.
Charlie strongly feels this sentiment from his family and therefore understands the extent of how far love and support goes. He says that though he has received negative comments, he knows that those who care about him will always be there.
“Be who you are. There are people out there who will love and support you no matter what. Never stop being you and don’t try to be someone you’re not. Honesty with yourself is so crucial and that’ll help remind you that everything will be ok. As time goes on, you’ll realise that everything will work out just the way it’s supposed to.”