They call me dad and so can you! This is to all the transgender kids and adults who have been coming here that I did not see. Please forgive me. We will get back to each other in a moment. But before I go any further I need you to know that I love you and you matter. Thank you for being here.
When I survived my suicide attempt last year everything changed for me. Then everything changed for the world. Writing was difficult. Trying to be authentic while figuring out who I am in the middle of a pandemic was quite a lot. Then protests happened after George Floyd’s murder and JK went full TERF and Trump found new and creative ways to strip trans people of medical rights and safety. It all seemed too large.
There were, and are, so many people writing so many things about so many matters that anything I have to say would be lost in the cacophony. Along with that I had well meaning friends telling me how best to present myself, talk about things, and how to be me. That existed in a juxtaposition of me and my therapist trying to establish who I am without anyone else’s consent. I froze.
I cannot tell you how many times I have sat here at this desk with the keyboard hoping for words to come. They never did. I focused on my photography, my job and my recovery. I have been interacting through Zoom with other pro photographers. We gave each other assignments. One of them was to shoot 100 photos of something and choose the best one. My kiddo and I went for a drive. I decided in the car to shoot 100 shots of them. This was the shot! The one at the head of the article! And here is what another photographer said about the shot.
Their face has innocence that I like a lot and I feel like the sharp glasses in front of the eyes are acting like shields – sort of protecting their innocence from the harsh reality that exists outside. The gaze and face expressions are looking to the future with lots of assurity that everything is going to be fine. I think it is because they are feeling protected in your company. I also liked the blown out space by their forehead. It is creating a good separation and also gives us a 3D pop. They’ve a mask but is not wearing it because they don’t need it while with you. They are a good kid and you have managed to transmit that character in this picture. Nice work!
Sharing that accolade with my twenty year old made me happy. It also made me realize that my stories in photography need to be told. I recently published a photo zine about life in the early days of shelter in place. I am working on a second one regarding #BLM. I’m in a new groove taking photos and telling stories. That is who I am, a storyteller. Cameras and keyboards are merely the medium. That is not all of me, but it is close to the core.
Father’s day was about half a month ago. As usual I got a father’s day card from my child. They always pick out great cards. I also got other father’s day cards. This has been going on for a few years now. Some of the kids and young adults that we have met along the road of this journey of my child being out have adopted me as their surrogate parent. I get cards, texts and emails from these lovely young people and I am always moved into silence. That is who I am, a dad. Biology be damned, I am a dad to other people besides my child. This is not all of me, but it is close to the core.
As I have refocused my energies on Pat Green Photography I almost abandoned this space. But this year, when I got my father’s day cards, one of them came from someone who found me through this column on Patheos. I am a dad and I am a storyteller and I have one more thing to say before our one on one.
When I was invited to write this column for Patheos, it was originally intended to soften hard hearts about transgender acceptance and affirmation by seeing the issue through a father’s eyes. Eyes of love. There are a lot of parents writing about being a parent to a trans kid. And there are allies writing about transgender matters. Not enough of us who do this do it as well as we should. The story often becomes about the parent or the ally and not the transgender person at risk.
In the midst of this, many transgender people came to this site and the comments sections and became my friends. Another thing has happened. Many of my friends who read this have had a kid or grand kid come out and they come to me for advice and then they do something strange. They ask me if I can talk to their child. I do, but in private, the kiddo and I always wonder why mom or grandpa “punted” to me instead of taking point on encouragement and love. And I get another father’s day card.
I cannot leave, but I am done talking to the adults and asking them to be better parents, politicians and human beings. They don’t seem to want to listen. I have more days behind me than I do ahead of me. I would rather invest my time with people that matter.
To The Transgender Kids Young and Old!
I don’t know what this looks like yet, but I am here for you. I love you so much and I’ve not even met many of you. While I am touched by the bonus father’s day cards, I think it sucks that your parents won’t love you right as you are. Who you are is the same baby they brought home from the hospital. If anything you are more you because your gender is determined by who you are and not your genitals or the pink and blue sh** we forced on you in societal constructs. Some of these parents want an apology from you. I am the one who apologized to my kid for all the stupid Disney Princess Bicycles and daddy/daughter dances and so forth.
I get called a great dad for the wrong reasons. To accept you and love you as you are is the bare minimum of parenting and we should not be handed prizes for doing the minimum. And here we are, stuck together with a glue called love and affirmation that everyone else has rinsed off.
Religion? Politics? Expectations? This is why you were not loved as you should have been? Because we need to be honest. No matter how much they shamed you, the problem ain’t your gender. It is their hearts. Maybe their god is cool with sacrificing their kid to an ungrateful mob, but I will always choose my kid over the mob. I have lost jobs, job opportunities and girlfriends because I would not stay silent in the face of ignorance. Again, no medal needed, but I cannot fathom any parent who worries about what a church or club or political pundit thinks more than what their child needs. That is sh***y parenting.
How dare anyone make you feel shame over their issue? And though I will never know what it is to be trans, I know that many of you have felt the impact of wanting a parent’s love and wishing you could be something else to get that love. That is not love. That is not parenting. The shame they projected on you belongs to them and not you.
Religious people who in the name of their chosen god has made it possible for men like Trump and Pence to be in office and hurt you even more than they already have with threats of hell or words like abomination suck. And it is not just the Evangelical right, the liberal believers were mostly silent as the progressive removal of rights took place. The “sin” of silence is the sin of complicity. There is a denomination that is still having a civil and loving conversation about your acceptance and they want you to be patient and claim to be on your side and you should be grateful! Screw that!
How many trans black lives have we lost? How many of you have been raped or beaten? How many made homeless, denied jobs, abused by teachers verbally or with microaggressions? Every parent should be in their schools board meetings, their courtrooms, their polling places and their therapist learning how to love you better and get past their own sh**!
My kid? They call me dad! So can you if you want. But I warn ya. I am nothing special. I have screwed up every romantic relationship I ever had with my bs. Since leaving the ministry the job road has been a little rocky. In the last year before my suicide attempt I made a lot of mistakes financially and I am working that out. I am a bit of a traditional guy and I am working on removing the toxic parts out of that. Organization is not my strong suit. I swear a lot and nine out of every ten ideas I have are usually bad ones. But I promise you this, I am a great dad. Not because I am pro trans. Sometimes I screw up as an ally, but I own the mistakes and do better.
My child and their friends have been my greatest teachers in allyship, intersection and getting my butt out there with a sign and protesting for things that matter.
With my full time job, the photography and other things I can only write once or twice a week, but they will be focused on you.
Mister Rogers was on television when I was a child. He told me and all the children that went to his show that he liked us exactly as we were. He also told us to look for helpers and an adult when we were scared or angry or sad. A lot of my fellow parents are still looking for the helper and adult, but we are that adult now.
So hi. Here I am. Here you are. You are amazing and wonderful and I love you exactly the way you are. Let’s talk.
If you do not want to talk publicly, you can talk to me via my website. I have a section called Let’s Connect. You can go to https://patgreenphoto.com/lets-connect . I want to hear about what to rant about next. I think for now I am gonna tell you stories about how cool it is being a dad and how wonderful you all are. Also, I have some horror stories. I have been hearing about Karens disguised as mama bears. We need to talk about that.
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