Monday, June 30, 2014
Do you remember the pep rally chant in high school? "We've got spirit, yes we do, we've got spirit, how 'bout you?" I feel like we have a lot of Pride spirit, but I am not sure how to show it. I want to be like those parents who post videos online of their trans* kid showing the world how similar a trans* kid can be to a cis kid. I want to tell everyone I meet (okay, not everyone!) that my daughter is trans* and show them how she is totally normal. I want to break down barriers, open doors, and build a safer world for her and this community.
But...she is little, not quite six. She has no idea that there are people who not only will think she is weird, but will reject her simply because she was born in the wrong body. The other day she asked me why I was giving a book about a trans* kid to a friend. I told her because some people have never heard that some people are born in the wrong body. She was incredulous and asked, "Really?!?!" She has been taught that having a trans* daughter, sister, friend is totally normal. That being trans* is no less normal than someone wearing glasses because their eyes were born not quite developed all the way.
I am so thankful her confidence is not shattered or shuttered by her transgenderism. I am so happy she gets to continue living her life exactly as before only with a new name in new clothes. I am beyond thankful for her innocence. I dread the day she discovers we have been keeping such a dark secret from her that some people think being trans* is wrong, against God, against humanity. This is a life lesson I am hopeful she doesn't experience for many years, when she has identified as trans* for so long and has had so many, many positive experiences that nothing will faze her for long.
I want to take her to a Pride Parade. I want to introduce her to other kids like her. I want her to know she isn't alone. We have talked about meeting other kids like her and she has vacillated between loving the idea and being fine to not add new friends to her dance card right now.
My hesitation with taking her to Pride is I feel like if we make being trans* a big deal then she will start to recognize it, well, it kind of is a big deal in our world. I love that she thinks life has not changed for her or us. I love that she went from being a boy to a boy and a girl to a girl so seamlessly, so smoothly, and so free of angst or sorrow. I do not want to introduce any negativity to her about who she is.
Yet, when we don't go to Pride Parades or when I don't post something fabulous about her in a "Parents of Transgender Kids" group on Facebook, I feel like I am only half an ally. But I don't want to out her anymore than I do already....family, friends, dentist office, doctor office, my work, my husband's work, anyone who asks me, "How are the boys?"...I feel like I out her all the time. And what if she doesn't want to be outed? There are so many people in our lives, either immediately or on the periphery enough that I need to share her gender with, it seems like I do it all the time. And I want it to be her who outs herself. But she doesn't even realize there is anything to out...which is amazing and awesome.
I guess I will continue to educate people, buy books for people, write heartfelt letters about my daughter's transition, and entertain any and all questions because right now that is how I get to be an ally and still protect Kegan.
I want her to own a rainbow flag...but I don't want her to know it is special because of who she is. Not yet, not yet. Is that wrong?
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Having a transgender child is not easy, but more importantly it is not “incredibly difficult,” “SO hard”, “very challenging,” or “unimaginable.” I am tired of people attempting to sympathize with me by telling me, “I can’t even imagine how very difficult this must be for you.” I am declaring right now, right here, this is not hard. I don’t mean to imply it is easy, because there are days it is not easy and I imagine in future days it will be not easy. (Oh, yes? Is that you puberty? We were expecting your call.)
Here is what can be classified as SO hard:
-your husband dying suddenly when your youngest child is 12 months old
-being diagnosed with terminal cancer at 8 months pregnant
-being told your infant is facing a life or death crisis
-taking care of your paralyzed father while raising a child
-spending night after night in the hospital caring for a loved one: young or old
-losing your job without having a big savings account
-being told it is time to consider hospice care for your child who was healthy until two days ago
Those are some example of what is really hard in life. I have either personally faced those things or have had friends or family deal with those situations.
Having a child tell you, “I am a girl,” when for the first five years of that child’s life you thought she was a boy is certainly not easy, but let’s be realistic it is not hard.
Along the same lines, having a transgender child is not a big problem. It is not a crisis of epic proportions. Yes, there are times it feels like an acute crisis, the transition period can be dicey at best, but life gets back to normal. Life goes on more or less as before. You still have a child, you still have a child who loves x, y, and z and still won’t eat Brussel sprouts. (Ha, ha, my kid actually will eat Brussels sprouts. Aren’t I lucky?)
Here are some things that are actual problems:
-the United States is currently flying armed drones over Iraq. That is a problem.
-a 17 year old girl and her 30 year old husband were beheaded last week by their families because they married for love versus by family dictate. That is a problem.
-40 children die every year because they are left in their carseats on hot days. That is a problem.
-Students and teachers are not safe in their classrooms and school hallways because we have not infrequent school shootings. That is a problem.
-There are children in this world who will starve to death this week. That is a problem.
-There are children in all of our neighborhood’s or at least our cities who will go to bed hungry tonight because their last meal was at school at lunchtime. That is a problem.
Those are problems. My daughter having a penis is an anatomical difference. it is not a problem. Trust me, I am living this life. In the grand scheme of actual real problems, a penis on a girl is pretty low level on the ranking of problems.
The only thing that makes having a transgender child hard or a problem is that society tells us it is hard and it is a problem. The only thing that makes it hard is when a “friend” tells you she will still love your child while referring to her by the pronouns “he” and “him” and her former (male) name. (See, again, that is society!) The only thing that makes it a problem is when your family is uninvited to an event because it is “too embarrassing” to explain who your child is. (Embarrassing to explain to who? Yep, you guessed it: society!) The only thing that makes it hard is when people can’t accept that not everyone is cut from the same fabric as themselves.
I have always been amazed by our ability to make problems out of nothing, to make a small difference or a mild atypical situation into a FEMA grade disaster. If parents, and society in general, would accept one simple fact: All people should be able to be who they are and each individual should be allowed to determine who he/she is,” then we could actually deal with the real problems in the world and my amazing trans* kid would not be at risk for rejection or suicide or made to feel there is something wrong with her. And people could stop telling me how hard our life must be.