I am the oldest granddaughter on my mom’s side of the family. This was a bonus for my aunts and uncles as they had a built-in babysitter right in the family. AND we all lived in the same neighborhood so they didn’t even have to come and get me…I could walk to their houses. One aunt in particular really had it made because there were times I would spend the night and get up with my cousins the next morning and fix them breakfast. It wasn’t until I became a parent that I realized that they had struck gold with me (smile).
One of the funny things about kids is how they think about time and growing up. My sister would always tell me what she would do when she was the older sister and I was the younger one. When my younger cousins would misbehave and I would take a toy away from them or reprimand them in some way, they would remind me that one day when they were big and I was little that they would do the same to me. Their little minds didn’t understand that the roles would not be reversed. They just thought that since I was bigger and they were little…one day they would be the bigger one…that’s only fair…right?
Kids definitely process information differently than we do. So if your child comes to you and says, “Mommy, when will I be a girl?” and they are a boy…what do you do? Yesterday was Transgender Day of Visibility and there was a lot of buzz on social media about it. Some good and some not so good. Now I am not an expert on this topic, but I do know some transgender people now, and I know several moms of transgender children. It is not an easy road to put it mildly. How do you know if it’s a phase that your child is going through…or just one of those crazy ideas that kids get like when they think that one day you will be the child and they will be the parent?
The simple answer to that question is that they don’t give up. They keep insisting that they are supposed to be the opposite sex of what their bodies represent. It’s more than a phase. Children from families of faith report to their parents that they ask God every night to make them the opposite sex. They are so disappointed when they wake up the next day and nothing has changed. I’ve even come across stories of children that wanted to cut off parts of their bodies that cause them distress. It can be dangerous. So since there was such a flurry of social media activity yesterday, I thought I would share some common questions/comments that I hear:
*Shouldn’t parents just leave well enough alone? Maybe their child will grow out of it. – I haven’t met one transgender person or parent who went into this lightly. You are talking about the symbolic death of one child and the rebirth of another. It’s not easy. There is A LOT of counseling that takes place, medical doctor visits, etc. before any kind of transition takes place.
*Shouldn’t you wait until the child is an adult to decide anything? – Again, lots of medical advice goes into any decisions that are made. Sometimes these changes are a matter of life and death as the child doesn’t want to live in the wrong body any longer. 41% of trans people have attempted suicide.
*What’s the big deal about the bathroom situation any way? Can’t they just use the one they were born to use?
If you are a male, what would you think if these ladies walked into the men’s room?
It would be humiliating to them if they had to use the restroom that the law in many states says that they have to use. They don’t look like the sex that is listed on their birth certificates. And I think the people in the restrooms might be a little uncomfortable as well. It can also be very dangerous for the transgender women. I believe this is one of the dangers of the bills that are being passed that discriminate against LGBT individuals. When people begin to think it’s ok that they don’t have rights, they tend to think of them as less than human beings and violence becomes common.
*Aren’t they just doing this for attention? – I have a hard time not responding, “Are you kidding me?” to this question. I can’t even begin to describe how much they go through and how much their families go through. No one would do this lightly. No one would make it up. And for many it’s very dangerous. Do you know that the life expectancy for African-American transgender women is 35 years old. 35! Why? Because they are murdered at an alarming rate…so no…no one is doing this for attention.
And the most common question/comment:
*Aren’t these people saying that God made a mistake when He made them by trying to change themselves? – I have an auto immune disease…did God make a mistake when He made me? Some people are born with an extra chromosome…did God make a mistake when He made them? Nick Vujicic was born without arms and legs…did God make a mistake when He made him? Can we just agree that sometimes people are born with things that we don’t understand? I don’t see any of these people as a mistake and neither does God.
I’m glad people are asking questions. I don’t have all the answers…I’m just trying to shed a little bit of light on a difficult topic. I went to a conference this week on how to help people through trauma. They talked about how to help the person who experienced the trauma, and how to help yourself after helping the person (self-care). A common thread through the day was love. Loving others and loving yourself…and how damaging it can be if people don’t receive love. So, don’t fear what you don’t understand. Educate yourself so that you can be loving to ALL people.
Because love matters…