Windsor·Proud to Shine

Proud to Shine: Lisa Renaud

Lisa Renaud is a mother and an ally for the LGBT community. Her son, Jake, identifies as a non-binary, transgender demiboy.

'I had a daughter for 12 years. Now I have a son. I'm good with that'

Lisa Renaud is a proud mother to her son Jake. He identifies as a non-binary, transgender demiboy. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Lisa Renaud is working to make sure her son and others in the LGBTQ community feel supported and loved, regardless of who they are or what issues they face.

Her son, Jake, was born physically female, but realized at a young age that something wasn't right.

Renaud said, at first, her then-daughter said when they were old enough to date, they would prefer to date the same gender. She said the majority of the family was supportive.

"For a few days that seems to help. The depression, the anxiety, but then my child goes back to struggling," she said.

Every day was a struggle for Jake.

In the summer between grade six and grade seven, her child came to her and said there's something more. It wasn't just their future romantic interests. It's their gender identity.

"I regret now that I didn't realize how much courage and strength it took for my child to come to me with that," Renaud said. "Even though I thought I'm open, they know they can trust me with anything. I should have probably recognized it with more than an OK."

Lisa Renaud said she feels she made some mistakes when Jake showed her who he is, but they have both grown a lot since then. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

There was a bigger reaction by friends and family — some hoping it was a phase, others thinking it was the dysporia from puberty.

"It's not. It's a fact of life," Renaud said. "My child does not identify as the gender they were born with at birth."

Looking back, she feels she made some mistakes when Jake showed her who he is. She felt she wasn't quite there for him while he struggled for a year.

Lisa Renaud supports the local LGBT community through an organization called 'Mama Bears.' 2:18

"They were doing the research on their own," she said. "I knew they were depressed I knew that they were having anxiety and panic attacks. I knew they were struggling."

This was new information for Renaud too. She still beats herself up about not knowing things she wish she had, like having a checklist of things they needed to do and knowing about puberty blockers.

"When you have early puberty hit and it's as difficult as Jake's was, regardless of gender identity, a puberty blocker would have been a great thing. Jake wasn't at the emotional maturity level to be able to handle what was going on inside of their body," she said

By the time she figured out what needed to be done, like getting to particular doctors, she said the list was so long they couldn't even get on them. 

"Nine months later, Jake is finally getting some of the care he needs," Renaud said.

Mama Bears

Renaud wanted to go beyond just giving her child hugs. She is part of a group called Mama Bears — an organzation of mostly moms, parental figures and supportive allies, who are there when the family and support system is not.

One of the things they do is give free "mom hugs."

"Myself personally along with other mama bears will be out at Windsor-Essex PrideFest giving mama bear hugs," she said. 

Lisa Renaud is part of a group called 'Mama bears' who provide support when people in the LGBT community don't have support from their own friends or family. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

They're currently working on creating bracelets with hearts and blankets to send to people who may need some love.

Renaud said she's still learning the right way to say things so she doesn't offend others. 

"It's not about what we expect for our children, it's about who are children actually are," she said. "I had a daughter for 12 years. Now I have a son. I'm good with that."