In the span of 18 months, the makeup of Amanda’s family completely changed.
When she moved into her new family home in Kanata, Amanda had three sons and a husband. “I thought to myself, ‘Great we’ll fit right in! Just another typical family on the block,’ ” she recalls.
Not too long afterwards, her daughter Alexis revealed to her that she was a girl trapped inside a boy’s body. A year later, inspired by the acceptance and community support that Alexis received through her transition, Amanda’s spouse of 22 years also came out as transgender.
Today, she’s Zoe, living the life she has always dreamed of, as her true, authentic self.
When Alexis came out, Amanda learned everything there is to know to help her daughter through her journey.
“When you come out to someone you kind of expect them to be like ‘okay sure.’ I was so surprised when my mom said, ‘Okay, I’ll go do some research and you go think about what you want to do.’ She’s been there every step of the way,” says Alexis.
When Zoe came out, Amanda was prepared with the facts. She knew what it meant to be transgender, what she didn’t know was what it meant to be a same-sex couple.
For Amanda, sticking through it all wasn’t a sacrifice.
“Love is love,” she says.“When Zoe came out, one of the things I started to see was joy. Actual happiness, actual comfort and pride in herself. It breathed new life into our marriage, into our family.
Despite everything, Amanda’s oldest son Aerik says they’re just a typical family.
“All that’s changed is how we present ourselves,” he says.
Family Services Ottawa’s “Around the Rainbow,” a United Way-funded program, helped Amanda and her family through their journey. “Having people we can talk to, places we can go, safe spaces … If it wasn’t for some of the services we received in the Ottawa community, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” she says.
For Alexis, United Way partner agency Ten Oaks Project has also been a huge help. She attended Camp Ten Oaks a couple of years ago and is looking forward to going again.
“That was the first week that she could really be herself,” Amanda says of Ten Oaks. “Everyone saw her as the girl she was.”
“Deliberation and discussion is what keeps this family healthy,” says Aerik. “They’re still the same person, it’s still the same relationship. It’s just a different way of being, a happier way of being.”
“The person you were so afraid of letting go of is a far better person today,” says Amanda.” They’re more real, more honest, more connected, more engaged, and how could that ever be a bad thing?”
Amanda Jette Knox is a blogger and transgender advocate, known as “The Maven of Mayhem.”
Path to Pride is raising funds for vital local programs that support LGTBQ+ kids, families and seniors. Funds raised will support programs at Ten Oaks Project, Family Services Ottawa, and Ottawa Senior Pride Network.