What if…?

no-hate-logoWhat if every family in the community were so accepting (of their transgender child)? No one had posed that question to me before. What if…?

I have often asked myself this, “What if we weren’t supportive and accepting?” I can tell you this much. Without our support and unconditional love, our son would not be able to function at a productive level. He would be angry all the time. He would feel worthless. He would feel shame.

What if every family, neighbor, co-worker, politician, friend and teacher could be open to possibilities? What if we all agreed that a kinder world would benefit all of us? What if that close-minded lawmaker decided to educate himself rather than swa­ddle himself in ignorance? He could teach his family to embrace, not to hate.

Over the last three years, my life and the lives of my family members have changed dramatically. When my younger child told me that “she was a he”­­ my world turned upside down, and not for the reasons you’d think. For a very long time, we had been parenting a child who was in hiding. Some of you know how difficult that is. Each day brings new challenges – you don’t know who will emerge each morning and how you will cope, motivate, discipline or love this irritable, angry, closed-off individual.

So, for me, when faced with the news that our son was transgender, I felt like we were finally going to have some answers. Suddenly, all the behaviors started to make sense. We just had to figure out how to get the appropriate support and find the best resources possible so our son could feel “whole.”

Fast-forward three years and we have a teen who is maturing into an articulate, confident young man. He is insightful and thoughtful; he recognizes the privilege he has within our community because he is able to transition from FtM with love and support and understanding. Around him, transgender teens are doing drugs, cutting and worse. Several high school students, in our area alone, committed suicide last year.

What if we turned our back on our son? What if we told him he couldn’t be trans* or that he couldn’t live as a male? And, what if those young people who took their own lives had received unconditional love and support from their parents, their communities, their teachers? What if we went out of our way to teach kindness and compassion rather than get in the way of human rights? What if we didn’t discriminate in order to protect our own fears and insecurities?

The youth we raise today will lead us into the future. What if we extend ourselves and give them the tools to be confident, self-assured, and inspired? My wish for anyone reading this is that you take some time to ponder the “what ifs;” think about the consequences and the outcomes of your actions.

What can you live with?


For resources and additional information visit StandwithTrans. If you would like to connect with a parent of a transgender individual, you can connect with an Ally Mom.

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Thank you for loving your (trans*) child

love your transgender childSomeone just wrote me a note citing the irony of cheering on parents who are supportive of their transgender child(ren). Do we pat our friend on the back and say, “wow, love how supportive you are of your child with aspergers/down syndrome/adhd/dyslexia?”

Why is this different?

Let me tell you that as a parent of a child with attention and learning issues, I have long worn the “advocate” hat. Not until recently have I been so applauded for being there for my son on these cloudy days. I know I’ve said this a million times over, but I can’t imagine not being a loving, supportive parent no matter what my child is going through.

Don’t get me wrong — I fully appreciate a community who recognizes what I’m doing for my son. If I can change the course of someone else’s life because of the way I am parenting, then I will have done my job. Truthfully, I have never been more fulfilled.

This past week has fed my soul in a way that is, in some ways, indescribable. Women from all over the country (and some men), including a few from Canada and Europe, have raised their hands in support of transgender kids who are looking to find their way. Sadly, often it takes a tragedy to set the wheels in motion. The world lost a beautiful young woman, Leelah Alcorn, all because her parents did not love her enough.

They did not love her enough to get past their own fear and insecurities and religious upbringings. They did everything in their power to alienate, isolate and invalidate their daughter’s life. They forgot that when you bring a new life into the world, it is a parent’s job to nurture and guide and encourage and instill a feeling of self worth and independence. To do otherwise is abuse. To read another’s opinion on this, check out this article by Jessica Valenti.

OK…I will stop the rant now.

Over the last several days I’ve had the privilege of reading stories from other “transgender” families; really great stories. The concept and message is just so simple. If you love your child unconditionally amazing things will happen. All it takes is one loving, understanding adult to change the way a child feels about his or her place in the world. Ally Moms, dads, siblings, teachers, religious leaders — we are all able to make a difference, one child at a time.

I am reminded of the We are the World song release in support of the AIDS epidemic in the mid 80s. Listen to the lyrics. The message is so powerful and timeless.

Please share this. Hug your children. Practice tolerance. Open your arms and your hearts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.