I’d like to introduce myself to you. I am the mom of the little girl called A.J. who was profiled in an article about transgender kids in the Kansas City Star. I never thought my family would be interesting enough to be featured on the front page of a newspaper. As surprised as I am to find us there, I am also incredibly proud.
I don’t want to ruin the article for you (it’s really, really good…go read it!) by quoting much of it here. We aren’t the only family featured, either, so I don’t want to take anything away from the other kids by making it sound like it’s all about us. What I would like to do is highlight a couple of myths and arguments we hear when the subject of transkids comes up and dispel them one by one. A few are mentioned in the article — spoiler alert — but because of space limitations, some that I had mentioned to the reporter were left out.
1. We are liberals pushing a gay agenda.
Nope, sorry. I am a conservative Republican from the Deep South, raised with Southern Baptist beliefs.
2. We (or at least I, because they always blame the mom) wanted a girl, so we turned our child into one.
Again, no. I desperately wanted boys. The idea of raising a girl in today’s world scares me to death. I’d much rather be responsible for raising a good boy who knows how to treat girls well than to be responsible for raising a girl who might only be interested in bad boys.
3. There was too much female influence on our child, so “he” just grew up thinking girly things were normal and convinced himself that he was a girl.
Hmmm, no, I can’t agree with that one either. She has an older brother, so all of their toys and clothes were “boy” things. She was in a preschool class with only 2 girls and a veritable posse of 10 boys. Crew cuts, wrestling, G.I. Joes, dinosaurs, trucks, and everything blue was what she was exposed to daily. I’m not particularly feminine. I have very short hair, rarely wear make-up, don’t polish my nails, and didn’t have a single item of pink clothing when she was younger.
4. “Kids have no idea what they want or who they are. My kid wants to be a dog. Should I let him?”
Well, that’s up to you. I wouldn’t. But there is a profound difference between wanting to be something in imaginary play and in declaring who you are insistently, consistently and persistently. Those are three markers that set transgender children apart, and my daughter displayed all of them.
5. Kids shouldn’t have to learn about sex at such a young age.
I agree, so it’s a good thing that being transgender has nothing to do with sex! Sexual attractions don’t happen until kids are older. You know…that whole puberty thing. Gender is strictly how a person views him or herself on the inside, and it is completely separate from who we are attracted to. The confusion between gender and sexual attraction is something that adults have a problem with and need to deal with on their own.
6. Transgender people are perverts and shouldn’t be in the bathroom with “normal” people.
I don’t know what you go into a bathroom to do, but I know what my daughter goes in there for…and it isn’t to look around. It’s to go into a stall, lock the door, and pee where no one else can see her.
7. God hates transgender people. They are sinners and going to Hell.
My God taught us to love one another. Jesus sought out those that others rejected. Some people may choose to embrace Biblical verses that seem to say being transgender is wrong, although I believe they are ignoring the historical aspects of Biblical societies and what the verses are really talking about. I choose to focus on verses like I Samuel 16:7 which says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” My daughter is a girl in her heart. She knows it. God knows it. That’s enough for me.
The newspaper was kind enough to turn off commenting on the article so that my daughter won’t have to go back later and read really ugly and hateful things about her or our family. But because of that, you might think it’s hard to know how people in our area felt about the article. Thankfully, kind and wonderful and open-minded people took the time to let the reporter know. I also shared the article with an online group for parents like us with gender non-conforming kids to see how they felt about it. Many have been burned by other news outlets who promised anonymity but then outed their children, or who turned the story into a sensational piece by including quotes by people who clearly hate the idea of any transgender person’s existence. I’d like to share a few snippets of the comments I received from both groups.
“This is hands down one of the best articles I’ve ever seen on transgender kids. I’m sending it to everyone in our family who has been less than supportive.”
“Thank you for the courage you and your family showed by opening your home and life to the journalist.”
“I am so appreciative of the thoughtful, well-researched and compassionate story you wrote about A.J. I wish every child was blessed with parents like them.”
“Please share my support, admiration and best wishes with A.J.’s family. Raising our children requires more of us than we ever expect and the profile your story shared tells me about people with extraordinary compassion, courage and resolve to do their best. A.J. is the blessing and the blessed.” (This one made me cry.)
“This article will serve to enlighten a world still mostly unaware of transgender challenges and will provide solace and community to other transgender children and their families for many years to come.”
“I am 63 years old and have been fighting this battle since I was 5. It took me 50 years to come out to myself, God and my family. Articles like this are a major way the general public will begin to understand what we go through.”
“I have two little girls and don’t care what A.J.’s biology is. Please have her mom contact me if she’d like to arrange a play date or just meet another family what will welcome her family just as they are.” (Awww. I never expected this kind of offer!)
“Transgender children is not something I have ever thought about before. I will now tell my children that there aren’t just boys and girls in the world, and that someone like A.J. is wonderful because they get to know both.” (Well, not really since she knows she is a girl, but there are many gender-nonconforming kids who don’t feel they fit on either side of the binary, and this is a beautiful sentiment for them. Thank you.)
One of my favorites was a voicemail from a mother in Connecticut. (“Isn’t it wonderful how the internet lets people all over the world read a local news story?”) She has a 10-year-old transgender son who transitioned in 2rd grade. I could hear her voice shaking as she thanked the writer for telling a story like hers and including so many details of our journeys as parents of transkids that are never shared. She ended the call quickly, with obvious tears in her voice as she said, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’re the best.”
#transkids #transchildren #transgender #parenting #unconditionallove
OK, I am becoming a ding-dong in my old age; I was disappointed that comments were disabled for the Star piece (though I certainly understand why), because I really wanted to respond. I see now that others found a way to reach you when I did not (or did they post comments before comments were disabled? Because that would make me feel less dumb). Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you for being part of that piece, and this follow-up. My heart was broken by it just a little (seriously — the part where you said all of your daughter’s classmates were fine until they went home and told their parents? Stabbed me right in the gut), but I really appreciated it. And not to treat your child like a charity case, but I’m local, and my (so far) cisgender son (who will be six in March) is always up for meeting a new friend. I am, too, but that conservative Republican thing . . . I dunno . . . 😉
We requested the Star not allow comments simply because of the kind usually seen on sites that have a very broad audience. There’s a lot of hatred out there. Just yesterday, I saw a very ugly comment towards us as the parents on a Trans Support site that had linked to the story. It’s shocking to see such negativity on a support page, but trolls are out there everywhere. A few people did email the author, though, and those were some of the quotes I shared. And thank you for your offer to meet up. Most of our friends now are from the opposite end of the political spectrum from us as they can get, but I can trust that they won’t make any negative comments around our daughter about the LGBT community. I think they like me around for the entertainment when politics comes up in conversation. 😉
Well, now, I did consider e-mailing the author, but really wanted the chance to address you directly. Thanks to Una, I can. I truly want to believe that though the haters tend to be louder, which makes them seem like a majority, most people are better than that. I hope your family’s experience supports that theory.
Thank You Una for protecting this young girl’s privacy, wow sometimes having to deal with stuff like this one can take it so personally. With all of my personal baggage I would have seemed like a Bull in a China Shop. I hope that the community understands how important a role Caroline Gibb play’s in This community where the T is the most misunderstood of letters. I think sometimes I was born to be an advocate myself, only because I had a birth defect, although I am Still Just a Mum dealing with the gravity of it all.
Thank You, I hope my mtf Girl blossoms into a beautiful princess like this one has. Although the fact remains that teenagers male or female are not easy to raise, ever!
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