“Your son was such a beautiful young girl. I don’t understand why he would choose this.” My brain reeled as this woman I had been dating for a month uttered these words so matter of factly. I was about to experience my first taste of the perils of dating when your teen is trans.
“I’m sorry. What did you say?”
“Well, God has an order and it’s obvious from how pretty a girl he was that this was His intention for your kid, not being a boy.” She said this as matter of factly as she said her first sentence.
“Wait. How do you know what he looked like before?” I asked.
“Oh, I went through your phone while you were in the shower.” Still matter of factly, she continued,”So when do I get to meet him?”
“Never. We’re done.”
This was the point that I realized that I had to screen better and with more intention before dating anyone. In the wake of this misadventure I thought I had improved the pre dating vetting. Then I found myself in another relationship where feelings had begun to take root. One day we were sitting in her kitchen over coffee when a conversation happened.
“So my pastor preached about homosexuality once,” she started.
I took a deep breath and winced as I said, “Did he?”
“Oh yes,” she said very excited about this moment. “He shocked everyone by telling them he has a lesbian friend. Can you imagine that, a pastor with a lesbian friend?” My brain had a mild seizure as I heard this and I am pretty sure my eye started to twitch.
Many of the details of his sermon were a blur except for the part I had asked the question,”What were his conclusions?”
“He said that god’s word is clear, that he did not write the Bible, but God did.” My eye had to be twitching at that point. “But even though the Bible says what it says we have to love people regardless their sin.”
It turned into a small debate at that point. But the damage was done. If she agreed with this trendy pastor, then my son was never truly equal in her eyes. My trust level diminished and not too long after that, so did the relationship for a variety of reasons.
I would love to tell you that this is restricted to just Christians. It is not. I once had an online chat on a dating site with an atheist woman who used her understanding of biology and distaste for politically correct culture to make her opinions known. There was also the liberal agnostic feminist who did not want trans women to have the same rights as her. In her mind they were not real women and should not be accorded the same rights.
It is hard enough to date as an adult. Add another factor like this in and it gets a little weird. For most people, this is merely an intellectual point with an opinion to pontificate on. As a parent of an LGBTQIA child it is about this person’s ability to fully accept and appreciate your child. In the case of an LGBTQIA person, it carries even more weight and import.
I started bringing up views on trans issues early in conversations to weed out biases. Sometimes they would say the right things. Then I would bring up why it is important to me. That would sometimes go over well. Then, I would trust and find out that their acceptance had conditions and was not truly acceptance.
This happened a few too many times. I eventually stopped dating. To be honest, even when there was acceptance of my son, I was not particularly good at it.
It was when I gave up on the whole matter of romance that I met someone. She became a friend. In the friendship we found common ground and acceptance. We had time to build trust and know how the other person truly felt on things that mattered to both of us.
I know fellow parents of trans youth that are single. Some do meet someone who is fully accepting. From there they get to go through the normal hell that is adult dating. Others have given up on the whole matter. Still others will make the concession and be with someone who does not fully accept their child because their need to fill that gap of loneliness is so potent. They are hoping they can change the person’s mind. That last group is very concerning. Sadly it is not that uncommon in other areas of life.
I have drawn a line on acceptance of my son. Historically, I have not always demanded full acceptance of me as I am. I am not the only one. So many people are in relationships where they are not fully accepted and they are so full of doubt about themselves that they accept that fate.
What we say to our children does not carry the same weight as how we behave. The things we accept are the things we ultimately tell our children are acceptable.
The expedition of life should include love, delight, and play. That inclusion should be inclusive.