I know about comfortable and uncomfortable spaces. I know how to make shirts comfortable (sometimes they need to be turned inside out because the tag is itchy). I know how to curate a comfortable space (fuzzy blankets, things to chew on, couch rather than a chair, make sure it’s not too loud or too crowded). I know how to make lots of things comfortable: restaurants, school, playdates, you name it. I know because I have an autistic child and things for him need to be comfortable or all of our lives’ are very uncomfortable.
I also know how to make my tween’s life comfortable (make sure there’s Hamilton music available and art supplies), my 6 year old (don’t ever forget Deedee), my 4 year old (smile a lot) and my 2 year old life’s comfortable (don’t get in her way). One thing I have a really hard time making comfortable, though, is my transgender child’s life: his every day going out, his thoughts about himself, his thoughts about what others might think about him, all of it. I know a lot about being transgender. I’ve read almost every book on the subject. But, as I learned at Gender Odyssey, I know absolutely, literally, nothing of being transgender. And sometimes that makes me feel helpless. Being transgender is a huge part of my child’s life. I want to give him what he needs.
Last weekend we went to a conference put on by Gender Diversity and I think maybe we found a comfortable space. A space where there was no need for Luke to explain himself or defend himself or a space where I need to be careful who I talk about and how (my transgender son makes some people uncomfortable). We found a place full of so many different people who accept diversity and celebrate it. People who don’t care if you believe in god or if you don’t. People who only care that you are an accepting person who doesn’t judge based on appearances or lifestyles.
I’ve had an incredibly hard time with the way the Catholic Church looks at the fact of being transgender. Or, as the Church might put it, the choice of being transgender*. I’ve had people tell me it’s basically child abuse to allow my eight year old to be his true self. “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is bullshit. But I get a lot of that. I’m now used to it so I just dance around this huge part of our life so I don’t make people uncomfortable or so I don’t get my feelings hurt.
I wish I had the words then to explain. To question.
I’d ask, “Does your 8 year old know he’s a boy? Does she know she’s a girl? Did you at all question it?”
When someone says, “He’s way too young to know or make that choice!” I wish I had the words to say, “I’m so sorry you’re so uncomfortable with my child knowing his gender. That must suck. But it’s okay if you go feel uncomfortable somewhere else because I know that behind that statement is really this question: “How is it possible? It’s hard to understand.” And to that, I might be able to see your point.
More than anything, I just wish so much that people would take the time to look at the scientific parts of this; the parts that have evidence and proof, the parts that explain that 8 year olds don’t suddenly choose to be a boy instead of a girl because they want attention or because it’s cool or x, y, or z. My heart cries because the people I love so much, my friends, they’ve decided that now we’re crazy and now we just want attention or we are misguided or lost.
I want to let everyone know that we aren’t. That after this weekend, I see that there are so many families who feel the same way we do. I know we have a community, a comfortable space. I know that we are in the right place. I know that behind harsh words and judgement is just a lack of understanding, fear, and lack of knowledge and experience.
Do you want to learn a little bit or expose your children or students to different families and people and lifestyles? Check out these books:
- Worm Loves Worm (Oh, this is the sweetest book about two worms who get married)
- Tango Makes Three (Once, a family member took one look at this book and declared it would never be seen in her home. And I knew it was a good one.)
- I am Jazz
- No One Can Ever Steal Your Rainbow
* There are many, many, members of the Catholic Church who are incredibly accepting and loving and don’t question our parenting or our choices. I know lots of them. I just speak about the Catholic Church as a whole.