Fifty Shades of Gender podcast graphic with Ange de Lumiere

Episode 7

A conversation with Ange de Lumiere


37 min. Recorded on 17 August 2020.

Ange de Lumiere moved to the UK from Paris in 2001. Ange has four children, one of which is transgender, and she started the Parents of Transgender Adults support group earlier this year. Ange identifies as a cisgender woman, however she can relate to the term non-binary because she believes that souls are not gendered.

We also talk about reincarnation, past lives, choosing your life experience and law of attraction; We talk about gender roles in society, the Silk Ring Theory of support, home schooling, The Hero’s Journey and the ins and outs of running and moderating a support group.

“The first thing that happened to me when he came out was just this incredible amount of fear around what was awaiting him… I was like, ‘what’s the world going to do to my child?'”

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TRANSCRIPT [expand to read]

Esther: Hello and welcome! What’s your name?

Ange: My name is Ange.

Esther: And how do you identify, Ange?

Ange: I identify as a cis-woman but, since listening to your podcast, I guess I am little bit non-binary, because it is not a question that I ask myself that often. I am just me.

Esther: Yes, it is an interesting one, isn’t it?

Ange: I come to it from my entire life’s philosophy, and you know a little bit about it, but your listeners don’t, I believe in reincarnation, I believe in the soul, I believe, and I know, that souls are not gendered. For me, I have chosen to be in a female body in this lifetime, but I might have been a male in another lifetime. And so there is fluidity in that respect, from life to life. It does inform a lot of the things that I do, even though I have actually had some past life recalls, spontaneous ones, but I have been mostly females in my incarnations, I know that I have had a couple of male incarnations as well.

So, for me, it is really just a body that we choose to live a certain experience, within a certain context, and it is not just about gender: it is about the colour of your skin; it is about whereabouts in the world you live; the culture you were born into; the language that you speak; all languages. Everything comes into it to bring this powerful experience, that is going to magnify your soul, that is going to deepen. I do see Earth as a school, not because we need to learn to perfect, it is more that knowledge without experience is nothing. So we come here to experience things firsthand, because we might know what it is like, but until we actually go through it, we have no idea.

I feel it is the same, actually, with my relationship to my son. I have no idea what he is going through, and so I have to take his cues and listen to him and let him guide me, so that I understand what his journey is.

Esther: Yeah, that is a beautiful lead in actually, because well, the reason that I am having you as a guest on the podcast, really, is because you are the mother to a transgender child. So please tell me, or tell the listeners as well, a little bit about how all that unfolded and when your son came out, or how he spoke to you about it?

Ange: So first of all, I have permission from my son to talk on this podcast and share everything except his name, so he would like to be anonymous.

Esther: Of course, yes.

Ange: I would say, just to set the background, when I was at university even though I had no transgender friends, I had more gay friends than I had straight friends. So, for me, it was already a little bit harder, my background, I was perhaps more open-minded than the average person at the time, because I am in my mid-50s. So, back then, it was unusual, I will say it. None of my friends in Paris, because I come from Paris, had mostly gay friends. Most of my gay friends weren’t French either, so that was kind of funny, {laughing} so that is the context.

When I was pregnant with my first son, who is not the transgender son, but my first child, I said openly to my husband and other people that I really wouldn’t mind if they were gay or not, whatever they chose to be would be fine with me. It came a bit as a surprise when it was actually my second child that came out as transgender and not gay but in a way it kind of sort of clicked something, because I thought: well, that child obviously chose me — because I believe we choose our parents, this is our whole context, you know?

Esther: Yep, yep.

Ange: Because I did wonder, at some point, because when I was pregnant with my second child, and this is a discussion that is happening amongst the parents of transgender children community, I had a very strong feeling he was female, and he was, how do you say it exactly technically?, assigned female at birth. So when he came out as transgender I wondered: did I get it wrong, or not? There was a lot of questioning in my mind, but I still believe that he chose to be born in a female body, and he chose his transgender journey, and I think that is very important that people at least open their minds to the fact that there are no mistakes. And part of how I look at it, and we all have our own narrative…

Esther: Of course.

Ange: So I am not saying this is the truth, it is my narrative. I know that when he was born I had to sort issues with my mother and I needed a mother-daughter relationship, I needed to create my own mother-daughter relationship that was healthy, that was loving, that was supportive; and he came, I believe, as a girl to establish that and almost to serve me. Of course he chose his own life for his own purpose, but it was like a joint purpose for us that he would help me as a daughter until he was about sixteen, and then he would start his journey as a transgender man.

So I find that really, really, interesting because he chose his name, I never chose his name as the baby, and I didn’t choose the name of my first son. So that was also quite startling because why did he choose a girl name if he was male and was born in the wrong body? That doesn’t make sense, for me, it doesn’t make sense that he had chosen to be born as a girl on that journey. The thing that, and I can say his old name, we don’t use that name in my family because it is just the birth name, but his first name that was given to him at birth actually means mermaid.

Esther: Wow. When you say Ange…sorry to interrupt you but when you say you didn’t choose the name it was given…?

Ange: Yes, I feel that the soul of my children gave me their names before they were born.

Esther: So it was an intuitive thing for you? Right.

Ange: Yes, yes, I would have a set name for the child as soon as I knew what gender they were, but two or three months into the pregnancy a complete change of name, something I would have never chosen myself, and I knew it was the right name for the child.

Now I will give you an example with my first born, his name which I believe he chose when he was born and we named him the name, then, that I had received. And when he was three to four years old he talked to us about a past life that completely tied up with the name that he had chosen, and his name means warrior. He told his dad about how he died in a battle in the desert when he was in his previous lifetime. Now his dad didn’t believe in past lives at all, he was a complete cynic around that, so he wouldn’t have made this up. Then he came to tell me and I was like: this makes sense now. Interestingly enough, not because I have ever pushed that, because I am really against weapons and all sorts of things, but, throughout his entire life, he has collected swords and all sorts of things — because he forgot about his past life, I didn’t drum it back to him.

What I have seen, the pattern with my four children, is that they remember their past lives around three-four years old and then they forget about it and just dive into the current life [but] there are things that continue that are quite interesting. And with my first born, in his bedroom now that he has now left because he is an adult and moved out, this is my office now, but there used to be ninja swords all over the place, which is interesting.

So I believe that the soul of my second child gave me the name that they wanted to be born with and, you know, called by.

Esther: To start off life with basically.

Ange: Exactly, so that was really interesting because the fact he chose a mermaid name, which mermaids don’t exist, it was almost like a wink from the universe, or from him, backwards, to say: look, I was born as an illusion and now this is the real me!

Esther: Wow! I love that!

Ange: And I love that. So in the UK there is a specific charity, the mermaid thing, and it is linked to transgender, and also young people who self harm. So I thought it was also another nudge: pay attention, this is important. So that is where the journey started, before he was born in a way, at least that is how I look at it.

When did he come out and how did things happen? I would say I caught him, this is really not what you think, but he was cross-dressing, so he had made himself a beard with, like, burnt wood, like charcoal, and had put a suit on and everything and came out of his room. I smiled at him and he was like: I am just going to a party. And I knew this wasn’t what was happening at all intuitively.

Esther: That there was more going on.

Ange: Yeah, I knew there was more, but I also knew that there was no point in asking questions, that I had to let him be and follow his own process and tell me when he is ready and not force things.

Esther: Totally! It is an interesting thing, like you said, cross-dressing, in a way what does that even mean? As women we wear trousers, but men wearing skirts, except when you are Scottish, is like an unusual thing, isn’t it? Why would it have to be? Why is it? It is a strange concept to me I think everyone can wear what they like.

Ange: Yes, and my first born, again, when he was a toddler he would put my earrings on and he would try lots of things and his dad stopped him dead in his tracks. And I saw this again, because I am now married to another man, and we have a son and a daughter, and same thing with my third son. When he wanted to reach out for more girly things, or wanted to put nail polish on dad says “no”. So this comes into the conversation because what my transgender son said to me, because I became a single mum very quickly with him and his big brother, I moved to the UK when he was only two. And so, he was more raised by me than his father and I don’t really raise my kids in a gender way, does that make sense? I don’t determine anything around gender for them.

Esther: You mean gender roles and…?

Ange: Exactly, whether it is the roles or this or that or the other, I am kind of fluid in this way that they are children and if one wanted to play with dolls and he is a boy, that is no issue for me whatsoever, in fact I think it s quite healthy…but I am often being confronted by people around me who don’t buy into this at all. But the reason why I am mentioning it is because when my son came out he said: look until I came to puberty I had no identity as female or male inside the house. Obviously, as soon as he was in school, it was very rigid, because I feel that the British society is even more gendered than it is back in France. In France, kids are kids until they turn teenagers, and until then there is not such a segregation between like: those are the girl toys and the boy toys, and all that sort of thing. I think we have discussed this, haven’t we Esther? I don’t know what it is like in the Netherlands. So he said that is partly the reason why it might have taken him so long to realise that he was transgender is because he could just be himself — around me at least.

Esther: Yeah so he could basically just be who he was without any influences of gender, or what girls should be like, or what boys should be like and should do or should not do?

Ange: Yes.

Esther: That is great really, it feels like a very liberal, free space to be in.

Ange: To a certain extent, I can’t say that I am not influenced by gender at all, [Esther: of course, we all are] because we all are, on some level it goes to the subconscious because it is everywhere. But still, for me, the transgender territory was completely new, I had no idea, I didn’t know what it meant, I didn’t know the journey he was going to be on, I didn’t know about, is it body dysmorphia? I didn’t know about all these things. So when he told me, when he finally came out, I said to him: whatever you want to do, whatever is right for you, I will support your the best that I can. So just let me know, and please be patient with me, because I have no idea about how to pronounce this and that and I am probably going to make mistakes, I was very, very, lucky, that he is so loving and so forgiving. And, at that point, I just could not imagine calling him a “he” and with his new name, first we took a name and then we used another (that is a story I want to share as well) without making a mistake and now it is the other way around. Sometimes we joke and we joke using his birth name, saying: who is that? {laughing}

Esther: Yeah, yeah.

Ange: So I want to share this with parents, because time is a great healer — if you think you need healing, I never thought I needed healing, but I needed to adjust for sure. I suppose the first thing that happened to me when he came out was just this incredible amount of fear around what was awaiting him. At the time there was the big debate about toilets in America, where transgender people shouldn’t be allowed in the other one, and all sorts of things. And I was like: what is the world going to do to my child? It was almost like there was a carpet that was pulled from under his feet and that he would be in danger. That was the thing that worried me the most but it turned out not to be true at all, you know?

And I managed to work on my fears because luckily I have some mindset tools and everything and I believe in the law of attraction so I have decided that I need to see him as strong, safe, and create that energy for him so he can then unfold his path. That is the best way as a parent that I can support him, otherwise I am going to add to the problem, instead of being the solution. Obviously, he is the solution, but I need to support him.

So my efforts, at the beginning, were completely geared towards that: to just see that this was part of the plan, that it was beautiful, that it was meant to be, that everything was going to be the way that it was supposed to be. It really helped, to look at it that way, rather than seeing it as a problem. It is easier for me because I really don’t care what other people think!

Esther: {laughing} Isn’t that a great way to be!

Ange: But, around me, everybody else is probably the opposite way: so his dad was extremely upset that he was losing his girl, his little girl whom he adored, he was really, really attached to his daughter. I am divorced from his dad, so that is one aspect and, sadly, his dad started to have a go at him for being too lenient towards him, and not questioning him and not being more anxious about what was happening and he was asking me to carry, basically, his stuff. So that wasn’t easy. I wasn’t willing to have any more anxiety put on myself just to help him, because I believe in the, I don’t know if you have heard about the Silk [Ring] theory? Which is, when there is a crisis and something happens — and coming out as transgender is a crisis because it is change — I am not saying it is necessarily negative, but it is something happening where you need to focus your attention on it.

Esther: It is a big deal, yeah!

Ange: And for me, the Silk [Ring] theory is that the person who as at the core of the crisis is first, and everybody has a ring, if you are directly linked: so I am his mum, I come second, and then everybody else comes after. So his dad may be second next to him, but towards me he is third, I have to put myself first, and he should not be dumping his stuff on me — you always dump on the outside of the circle instead of the inside. So my job, with my son, wasn’t to share with him my fears or anything, I need to find someone else to be able to discuss that, so that I can support him through what he is going through.

Esther: I love that!

Ange: It is very powerful.

Esther: It makes so much sense.

Ange: It applies to

Esther: everything?

Ange: Everything, absolutely, whether there is a death, whether it is a rebirth, because I believe that actually transgender people rebirth themselves, but of course there is a sort of a grief and dying process that goes with it. And it applies to anything, the loss of a job, a divorce, anything… This theory started with a woman who had cancer who was at work and someone came up to her and told her how upset she was about her having cancer, and that was totally inappropriate. From then, she built that theory to say: look, if I have cancer, you are not allowed to tell me anything about your feelings about my cancer, because I am dealing with something, I can’t carry anybody else’s problems.

Esther: Yeah, too right really.

Ange: So that helped, I wasn’t able to completely have all the members of the family respect this rule so I had to cast them out temporarily and do whatever I needed to do to make things easier at least for me. And then I think we moved on as a partnership where I helped him move on as much as I could, but at the same time it was also a thing that he wanted to do on his own, because he was already an adult, he was 16, but very soon he became 18, these two years flew by. And so I had to just step back and let him deal with it and trust and we had an agreement that if he needed me he would reach out – so that is how we moved forward.

Esther: Lovely, yeah. I was just thinking back to when we were talking about the freedom to explore his childhood, as it were, in a kind of a non-gendered way, is that, because I know you home-school for kids, so has he always been home-schooled? Have all your kids always been home-schooled?

Ange: No, I only home-school my younger two, the first two went to school. I did offer, when he was going through some serious bullying in school, I offered to home-school him — that is actually how I came across home schooling, because he was suffering so much in school — but he decided to stay and try to make it work.

Esther: Lovely, that you let him make his own decision around that and kind of brave of him as well to stick that out, because bullying is no fun. So you also, you run a support group, is that right? For parents of transgender kids or other family members of transgender people?

Ange: Actually I run a group, which is a community, I call it a family, of parents of transgender adults. Because I was in a group, in January we started this group with another lady, what happened is there was a thread and someone said: is there a group specifically for parents of adults of transgender people? Because the difference is enormous: first of all you have to sit, most of the time, as an observer, you can’t really intervene, which is very different than when you have a transgender child, and you can be more, I suppose, involved on a daily basis with things that happen. And also it comes with different problems as well, because sometimes these people, our transgender kids, have had relationships, maybe they have kids, and a lot more is at play.

So there was this thread in the general group of parents of transgender people, and someone asked: is there a specific group? And everybody, there were about thirty comments saying: no, and I wish there was one and everything. And I was like: well, why don’t we just create one? I commented and then one of the lady’s on the thread said: okay, you do it! {laughing} And, because I have been managing groups for my business before, I knew it was something really simple to do so I just created it and thirty people joined.

I created theme days, which is probably very different from most of the other groups, because I wanted it to be a bit structured, and I felt that if we all shared whatever — when something happened, when it happened — it would become a really sort of heavy environment, because there is so much grief and so much loss and worry and fears, and so I wanted it to be lighthearted.

So first what I did, I chose as a header, a rainbow cake. I wanted to send a subliminal message to these parents, that actually it was a cake and they were meant to eat it and it was gorgeous and it was something to celebrate rather than to fear. So, right away, I wanted to shift the energy of fear and, “oh my God, what has happened, I don’t get it.” And then I have these theme days so that people can ask questions, there is discussion, there are tips, there is even an offer day. People have things that they feel might help others, I have shared your podcast in there…

Esther: Oh thank you!

Ange: …on offer day, several times. And so yes, that is how we managed the group. I don’t consider myself the leader of this group, more like a facilitator and it has become this beautiful space, we are a little bit under 200 – oh I think we have gone over 200. It doesn’t matter the numbers, but what I want to create is this space where there is respect. Where you can absolutely share your feelings freely, because the thing is we cannot share our feelings with our children, just because of the theory I told you about but at the same time I don’t think it is appropriate to do that, unless [it is] the feelings that we love them as they are, obviously we can share that. The rest, we need to find a forum where can be completely honest, because I am a healer as well and I know that whatever you don’t process, if you push it down, it never dies, it is there and it compiles and then it makes things worse.

I have had people join the group that said that immediately they felt a sense of relief and there was even one lady, just being in the group, it had eased their journey vis-à-vis their children. And I know when I talk to my son about the fact that I created this group he said: oh mum, that is really amazing that you can help other transgender people with their parents, so that they have more support, because that is a critical thing in the LGBT community, especially with transgender. I think it is more critical with transgender because it touches people more at the core of their attachment to gender than the rest of LGBT community…I think, I maybe wrong – I am not a specialist at all.

Esther: Yes, that is part of your own journey in that, yeah, absolutely.

Ange: And of course, there are lots of American people who are very religious so it conflicts with the aspects of Christianity that they have been taught. And so there are resources, we share books, we share articles, I try to keep it positive or informative and there is no fear-mongering.

There was recently a sort of argument in the group, because it is the election in America, and of course Trump has been eroding transgender rights, and so someone started something and then there were some statements, I can’t even remember what it was, about the fact that anybody who votes Trump is an idiot. And I wasn’t asleep by then, because they were all awake and it was night time in the UK.

Someone messaged me because she knows that I created the group and she said: look, I don’t feel comfortable staying in the group as it is, I am sorry I am going to have to leave. I said, no you are not. So we had a conversation in messenger, she explained what happened. So I went onto the post and I actually made a specific facebook live to explain to people: this is a family, this is not a political arena, people vote for certain people for complex reasons and you can’t make it personal and you know… I kind of moderate the group in that way and I think it has calmed down everyone and we have come to a better [situation].

Esther: Oh that’s good.

Ange: All the emotions run very, very… it is all about fear, the more fear you feel about the future of your child, even when they are adults they will still be your babies all of their lives. So the more fearful you are about their future, about their medical needs being met, about this, that, and about the other, the more you are going to react from the amygdala, you know the reptile brain, where you don’t actually think much and you just overact.

I suppose in my background, as a clinical hypnotherapist, helps there because I educate them as well around our beliefs are just the fact that beliefs are just thoughts that you think are true, but that you need to challenge those beliefs and all that sort of thing…so it is kind of fun. But I have also [thought of] a book at some point that I am going to write, to give parents some tips on how to deal with the whole adventure, share stories from our group, because I believe that the journey, I think it is true for both transgender and their parents, but I believe the journey is like the hero’s journey that Joseph Campbell talks about. Have you heard of it?

Esther: I have heard of it, yep.

Ange: Yeah, so there is an event that describes your normal, it is very obvious what it is for a [transgender] parent: your child comes out and how are you going to react? Are you going to resist? Or are you going to embrace it? And you start on a completely new journey that takes you out of all the normal world that you are used to and that is exactly what parents of transgender people go through.

Esther: I think it is a personal journey as well, isn’t it? Because you might, in theory, believe: oh if that happened I would be supportive, and then if it actually happens, and you find that you have all these emotions coming up and you are like: oh hang on a minute, I am not dealing with this very well at all! So that is all very legitimate stuff that has to be dealt with and healed rather than…

Ange: Absolutely, absolutely, and if you try to be positive when you are not, it doesn’t work. And that is one of the first things that I say when people join, I say: there are no emotions or feelings that are off limits, apart from hate and racism, there are some no-nos, but the rest of it, if one day you want to rant, you can use the hashtag #rant, in which case people know that they are not here to give you advice, you just want to have that space to say what you want.

Esther: To get it off your chest.

Ange: Get everything off your chest and then you can have help, if you want people to respond, or have something in between, or if you want to share your feelings and where you are at. And the caveat that it can have a trigger warning for people, because there a lot of parents who suddenly see their child go through a suicidal phase, or maybe are on the receiving end of horrible abuse from their partner. And so, I am very careful to tell people: look, before you share you story, make sure that you put a warning so that if someone is in that bad space you don’t add to their…because we don’t come here to dump, we come here to support each other as a family and so I am very careful about that.

Esther: It sounds very well balanced, beautiful, yes, great boundaries!

Ange: I try my best and I have a wonderful partner, Jodie, who runs the group with me and we are quite complementary as well and we love a good laugh, even though we have been through, you know, some really hard moments. And we always say to people: it is a journey, come wherever you are, if we can help you, even just the fact that knowing you are not alone can be extremely helpful.

Esther: Absolutely.

Ange: And being able to say exactly how it is, exactly how you feel, and to understand that most parents feel the same is important too. I made the mistake, when my son came out, to share my feelings with a friend who was part of the LGBT community, and I thought she would understand, and she had lots of unresolved issues and she actually slammed me down and it was absolutely awful, I was on the receiving end of some real abuse. When I was feeling this feeling of loss, she would tell me [critically], “oh you lost your precious little girl”, and things like that, which were absolutely awful. I was innocent back then and I was naïve and I thought all of the LGBT community would be supportive and that is not true. I am not saying that they are not, I am just saying: choose your audience.

Esther: We are all people.

Ange: Exactly. And I think people have issues, so they don’t necessarily make the best of support when you are going through that sort of journey, whether it is directly for transgender people or for their parents or siblings or spouse or whatever but, for us, the group is uniquely for parents because it comes with a very specific set of challenges.

Esther: Well I will make sure to share the details, if that is all right with you?

Ange: Thanks. I want to share one more little thing.

Esther: Of course.

Ange: And that is actually how it was, actually, because he has two younger siblings who were then, what were they?…so, they were much younger, and one of my children no problem at all, my elder two sons, but my youngest she really struggled because she liked her big sister and it was extremely hard for her. That as well can be a support that some parents need, to know how to help their own children with the grief and to just give it some time, to know that things are not going to be sorted overnight, just because they come out the problems are not resolved and to just be alert and get the support for themselves so that they can support their own children, that is really, really, important.

Esther: Yeah, absolutely.

Ange: Sadly, I find, I am pretty sure it is universal, as with everything, all the attention is on the transgender person and there is nothing for parents. So the parents are left, they are going through as much of a journey as their children but they are left stranded. So I guess that is why when I saw this opportunity to create the group I thought: yeah, I want to do that, even though I believed that I had no time to do that {laughing} and I still don’t think I have the time to do it, I do it the best I can, probably not as much as I would like to, but at least it is there.

Esther: Yeah, a much-needed space by the sound of it, for sure. That is beautiful thank you so much Ange. Is there anything you would like to add as we finish up? Anything you would like to share, anything that’s important for people to know?

Ange: I want to share, first, how brave I know transgender people are and I want to share how I see them as extremely beautiful and advanced souls, because they are here to teach us about unconditional love and they are also here to teach us to go beyond gender and, in a way, to see ourselves as souls and beyond, beyond our beliefs. So I believe they have actually come here to change society in the most profound of ways, but it takes a personal cost to do that, so I just want to thank them and tell them, for me, how beautiful they are, how powerful they are, and how beautiful their mission is and I just hope that this will come, for them, with as much happiness that they can bring for themselves, and others, obviously.

Esther: That is a beautiful place to end on. Thank you so much Ange.

Ange: And they can reach out to me if they want, send their parents to me if they need help. I am no expert, I will say this right away, I know very little, I know only what my sons taught me and the little bits I have gathered, but I am willing to learn, I want to be an ally, I don’t know if I am a good one but I am willing to learn again, so…that’s the start.

Esther: Absolutely, that is all we can do is just be willing really.

Ange: As you are with your podcast which I think is wonderful, I have listened to most of the episodes, not recently because I was too busy, and I absolutely loved it. I feel that it is really good that it is a podcast because we do not have the barrier of our eyes, we can open our hearts directly.

Esther: Mm, yes, definitely.

Ange: For me that is an ideal means to communicate this message and to share those interviews that are really heart-to-heart interviews, aren’t they?

Esther: They are really, yes.

Ange: So thank you Esther, you are doing really amazing work.

Esther: Thank you – yay! Okay then, that’s a wrap!

Ange: Is this goodbye then? {laughing}

Esther: That is goodbye then…for now. {laughing}

Ange: And thank you for listening.

Esther: Thank you!

About Ange

Ange de Lumiere is a Spiritual Lawyer and Intuitive Business Strategist, and she supports entrepreneurs in using the power of intuition and the law of attraction to realise their big vision without having to sacrifice their health, sanity or family.

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