Transitioning: A Shared Journey of Love

pride month

Here at ADP, we believe we can enhance hiring and retaining the top talent available to us by promoting a welcoming, affirming and inclusive culture at all levels of the company.

Enjoy this inspirational story from one of our employees:

Here at ADP, we believe we can enhance hiring and retaining the top talent available to us by promoting a welcoming, affirming and inclusive culture at all levels of the company.

Enjoy this inspirational story from one of our employees:

By Carol Ann Murphy*

"Mom, I'm really a boy." Those were the words that my "daughter" greeting me when "she" came home for spring break during "her" freshman year at college in 2013.

At first I was stunned. Disbelief. Fear. Sadness. Grief. All these emotions hit me as the tears started to flow Ð running down both of our cheeks.

"But who will love you?" That was my first question after the realization that my child was never a girl and I finally had an explanation for so many things that baffled me while "she" was growing up. Why "she" sobbed every time I told her she had to wear a dress to some family event or on a holiday. Why "she" never opened the dress-up trunk that Santa brought her for Christmas when "she" was five. Why I never caught "her" playing with my makeup like I played with my mom's when I was a little girl. Hated to go shopping. All of the reasons why moms long to have a daughter were unfulfilled with mine.

My concern for who would love him stemmed from my own view of the world as binary gendered and the knowledge that men and women loved each other, women loved women and men loved men. But who would love this child of mine who was somehow a man in a woman's body. How would that work?

He laughed and assured me that there were people who already loved him. Through him I have learned that sexual expression and preferences are as fluid as gender expression. That maybe we are in the next phase of human evolution, where one's personality supersedes their body parts when it comes to falling in love. What a concept!

"What do we do now?" was my next question. I have always tried to be a supportive mom. As a single mom to three children who had an absent, abusive and alcoholic dad, it was important to me that they always felt unconditionally loved by me. And they were the ones who taught me how to love unconditionally.

My son explained to me the process of transitioning. I got my hands on every book I could find and read how many parents shared my same experiences. First their child came out as gay, as mine did in his freshman year in high school. Later, at some point, they realized they were born in the wrong body. I read about the hope and the joy of seeing your child happy at long last.

I went to a support group that had a Transgender subgroup. After two meetings, I realized I was far beyond these parents in terms of my acceptance and ability to move forward with my son. Most were ashamed and embarrassed, unable to break the news to family and friends. My heart hurt for their children who were sometimes sitting in the same room, listening to this. I said, "If you got a diamond in a Tiffany box or you got the same diamond in a burlap bag, what would it matter? It's the same diamond. The difference is packaging!" Why was it so hard for them to see this? How could they betray their own children like this?

When it came to choosing a new name, my son made a list of 20 names and, because he said I named him at birth, he wanted me to help him pick out his new name. He asked me to narrow his list to five names and he would choose one from that list. So Kelly Ann became Kevin Andrew and when it came time to legally change his name, he took my last name, my maiden name. I was beyond honored and so very proud of him.

Have we had some difficulties? Yes, of course. My son expected that just because he came to this realization that he was indeed male, that I and everyone else should immediately be on board, that we should never misuse the proper pronouns or call him by his former name. As much as I tried to explain to him that for 18 years I thought I had a "daughter" and that it would take some time for me to "transition" as well, he was impatient with me and was easily angered when I made a mistake.

His main concern was that he somehow let me down. That as the "daughter" I always wanted, he had disappointed me and made me sad. I assured him that a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child, and that his happiness was paramount to whatever I thought I wanted or had. I had witnessed his struggle, his loneliness and his awkwardness when he attempted to do what girls typically do. His transition released him from all of this angst.

We are now four years along on this journey. My son, Kevin, is happy, healthy and whole. I now have three sons. Kevin has taught me so much about love and acceptance. About courage. About authenticity and being true to who you are.

When his oldest brother got married two years ago, he came up to me and said, "Mom, when I was a 'girl,' I hated to dance. I felt awkward and like everyone was watching me. Now, not only do I love to dance, I really don't care who's watching or what they're thinking."

And again, we shared tears, this time of joy.

To attract and retain talent, companies need to provide comfortable, supportive, and inspiring environments where people of different ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations can thrive. Read Celebrate Pride Month with Better Tools to Drive Diversity and Inclusion to explore some of the ways to create a more inclusive environment.

You can also watch our video for tips on becoming a strong LGBTQ ally at your workplace.

*Name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.