As a parent of a transgender child, there are surprising truths that I learn every day.
My life is full of quiet, yet unrelenting fear. As a white, cis, heterosexual, woman, I never realized the challenges that face the trans community. Since the moment my daughter shared her truth with us, we have feared for her safety. There is anxiety about the way people will perceive her. We worry about what her opportunities in life will be. This, my friends, is the reality for all marginalized people.
Not all people within marginalized communities accept us. The LGB of the LGBTQIA+ acronym does not always mean acceptance. This is a huge realization for me. When I started on this journey, I figured my cis, queer friends would welcome our family with open arms. This is a mistake. While many people in the LGB part of the rainbow do, in fact, embrace my daughter and her peers, there are many who do not. If you listen to Chase Strangio’s podcast about LGBTQ rights you will see how the LGB left the T in the dust when it was time to fight for marriage equality.
People who say they are allies may not always be true allies. Even though PIXAR claims to be an ally, they do not advocate for the trans community. In their casting call for a youth voice-over role for Jess, who is a 14-year-old transgender girl, PIXAR is looking for an actress aged 12-17 who… get this…doesn’t have to be trans. I’m sorry, are white people still putting on black face? Can I dress up like a Native American? Does PIXAR think that so few trans girls between 12-17 would be interested in such a role? Shame on them. Again, they cast us onto the sidelines. We can’t play the game, just watch. They consider us other.
Schools may say that you have parental rights, but that is not always the case. Sure, they hand you a Title IX document across a wooden table in an IEP meeting at school. However, your rights are out the window unless you are willing to fight for them. The Office for Civil Rights guidance states, “On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that discrimination on the basis of an individual’s status as gay or transgender constitutes sex discrimination within the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” I have learned that a school is only as good as the administrators who run it, the teachers who lead, and the staff who support it. When my kid showed up, we were told to use the nurses’ bathroom and she was lined up in the boy’s line during gym (Why do we line children up according to boys and girls? This is a post for another time). The adults in the room were the problem for my then 6-year-old. Not the children. The adults.
This brings me to my last lesson, for today. We do not choose this path lightly. The brave transgender humans (hero’s I should say) and their steadfast parents are not doing this on a whim or for some tactical advantage. Being trans is hard. Being the parent of a trans kid is also really hard. Fighting for basic access, kindness, and equality at all times is not easy. Being fearful of being harmed or traumatized when visiting the doctor, dentist or hospital is awful. Your rights to pee in a toilet or run on a track are debated on Fox News and CNN. This is harmful. The cumulative toll of anxiety and stress on transgender individuals and the parents of these children is immense and it is not okay.
So my one request, if you do nothing else, is to please remember that the people whose rights are being debated are human beings with feelings, families, and lives. If you come across social media posts or debates among friends or family, please just take a moment and remember we are not debating theory or things. We are deciding the fate of people who have jobs and aspirations just like you and your children. All are welcome.