There’s a lot of other parents of trans and gender non conforming kids that I interact with. I wrote the following to as many of them as I could. “I’m doing a listening exercise on TransParent Expedition (no names will be used). Please complete the sentence. I want Cisgender people without trans or gender non binary kids to finally understand _______. ” The responses that I got were moving, well written, and sublime.
This is not something I get to do often at TransParent Expedition, but it is at the core of what I am trying to do here. I am not transgender, I will never know what it is like to be transgender. That said, I do know what it is like to watch my son suffer and hurt. This is a shared cry of the heart from other parents who know that same love and that same pain. These are bounded hearts.
This is a listening exercise. I ask you, the reader, to do one simple thing. If you are not a parent, sibling, child or partner of someone who is transgender or gender non conforming and you are not transgender or gender non conforming, you have one task. Just listen. Listen to honest hearts of parents who love their kids as they are.
I Want Cisgender people without trans or gender non binary kids to finally understand _________.
Mom #1: It becomes exhausting discussing my child’s gender every day. He is so much more than that.
Mom #2: To finally understand that some, if not most of these kids, are able to understand that they know they may not have their own biological children when they are older and are fully capable of adopting.
Mom #3: There’s nothing wrong with my child! I love him as much as you love your child. Saying things like “But you’re such a good parent” or “Only god can judge” is about as helpful as telling the parent who has lost a child that “everything happens for a reason.”
Mom #4: No. I am not worried that he will someday “change his mind” later in life and yes it is very necessary for him to transition now for his mental health and well being, and no I will not regret helping him to do that!
Mom #5: That people are capable of making medical decisions under the age of 25.
Mom #6: That because my daughter was assigned male at birth it doesn’t mean that she wants to rape the other girls in the locker room. She just wants to change for PE like any other girl does.
That I didn’t force this on my kid and its not a trend. She is who SHE is. Always has been.
That my child shouldn’t have to answer questions like. Where do you pee? Are you a boy or a girl? Did you have a surgery or are you…?
Really CIS people would you like to answer the same questions?
That my child wanting to be called Justine instead of her dead name is no different that your kid Thomas who wants to be called Tom or Tommy or any other nickname.
That it is rude to stare and point fingers especially at those early in transition or those who aren’t totally passable. Reverse the behavior. If you wouldn’t like it why do it?
Mom #7: Why do you need to put my child in a gender box? My child doesn’t, I don’t, my child’s friends don’t, so why does this matter to you?
Dad #1: That a transition takes time and many small incremental steps. It is a difficult time for trans people, and a transition can be a long process. It is emotionally draining and often, if not always, accompanied by depression and anxiety.
Mom #8: That no one chooses to have gender dysphoria, or be gay, or any of the other labels people put on those who are different from them. This is not a “lifestyle”, this is people living their lives – and they deserve to be loved, (just like everyone else).
And, also, this…Many like to say, in regards to people who are transgender, “God doesn’t make mistakes”. Perhaps, though, the truth is that God doesn’t make mistakes. We, in our limited human understanding, make the mistake when we pretend to understand the full breadth of His creation. There have been transgender people throughout history, this is not a new phenomenon. God created the transgender people, along with the cisgender people, along with the babies born with birth defects. Just because someone is different, does not make them a mistake – they are a beautiful part of the amazingly complex pattern that Creator God is weaving.
Mom #10: That humanity is evolving … whether we choose to accept it or not…it’s still happening . Everyone has a right to feel loved, safe and accepted for who they are. It’s important to embrace the uniqueness that everyone has to offer.
Mom #11: That instead of saying “I’m sorry” when I tell you that my child is trans, I’d much rather have you ask “how can I help?” and become an ally helping us change minds and hearts about how “transgender” is perceived.
Mom #12: That I love my child as much as you love yours. That there was nothing to ‘accept’. My child is still my child. Accepting my trans child is no different than you accepting your blue eyed child. Lastly… This is not a choice…no one chooses this…she is who she is…stop judging based on your narrow understanding of gender.
Mom #13: That what is underneath my child’s clothes is not your business. I am just a mom like any other mom wanting for her child to be happy, loved, accepted and find a purpose in life. Being trans is just one part of who she is, and that not all trans girls love super feminine clothes and style. I also want them to understand that I am happy to talk about this with you in private if you have any questions, but not in front of my child please.
Mom #14: I want Cisgender people without trans or gender non binary kids to finally understand it is not a phase.
Mom #15: That we love our children just as they are and that affirming their identity is also crucial for their survival.
Mom #16: That I don’t need or want your pity. There is nothing to pity here. I love and celebrate and take pride in my kids, in who they are, and in what they accomplish just like you do. They don’t stress me out extra because they are trans. It’s the people who fear them and endanger them with their non-affirming words that stress me out. Those words are a physical danger to my child’s well-being, and I view your non-affirming words as akin to a death sentence for my kids. That you trying to prove your point with your “beliefs” that are in direct contrast to actual real life experiences, first hand knowledge, and well-documented biology does nothing to help your case. AND: That no one would choose to go through the intense emotional, mental, and physical that gender dysphoria brings.
Mom #17: That the look of pity is wasted on me.
Dad #2: That being transgender is not an illness, not a choice, not a “sin”, not contagious, and not a threat to cisgender people.
Dad #3: That my child shouldn’t have to be charming to earn approval. He should have respect, regardless of his popularity.
Finally, there is my answer.
My family is my life. There is nothing that I would not do for them. Your political views, religious views, complicit silence and willful ignorance have hurt and/or threatened my family. That will not stand and the well of love for my family is deeper than you can imagine. I not only protect my family, but I teach and help them fight for themselves. They are stronger than you can possibly imagine and have more character than you can fathom. Please don’t try stand in the way of their rights, I would rather have allies than enemies.
Special thanks to all the parents who responded. I’ve no words, just humble awe.
Now that you have listened, please tell me what you have learned.
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