The Voice of a Mom…Part I

I love nature.  There is such a peace I feel when I’m out in the woods, on the beach, or just sitting on my deck surrounded by the tall trees that are behind my house.  If there is water involved, like a babbling brook or ocean waves that is an extra bonus (smile).

10177861_10203423196682319_2655426038570311619_nThis tree is in my back yard.  I know it is hard to tell by the picture, but it is indeed one tree.  And yes that is both white and pink flowers that you see gracing it’s branches.  I LOVE this tree.  It is so unique. It was here when we moved into our house 18 years ago so I’m not sure how it came into existence, but I am so happy that it ended up in my backyard.  In many ways, this tree reminds me of the journey I’ve been on the past several years.

On the one hand, it reminds me of my faith.  The branches on the tree that have the white flowers grow up towards the sky.  The branches that have the pink flowers grow outward and spread out as if they are reaching for something.  The white version of the tree is my connection to God while the pink version is my desire to reach out to others to share His love.  To me it’s also a symbol of my once rigid belief system entangled with my quest to let God out of the box.

When I look at this tree, I also see the struggle of my son.  He tried to stay on a path that he thought was required of him. In doing so, he had to deny who he really was inside.  He tried desperately to stay on that path while on the inside he felt his true self reaching out trying to break off of the path that was never meant for him.  I see the part of the tree that grows upward and has the white flowers as the path, while the pink side is him reaching out to be himself.

I also can’t help but think of the transgender people I’ve met when I look at my tree.  Born as one gender while truly another. My tree is two trees intertwined into one.

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know that things have gotten very heated towards transgender individuals.  The bill that was passed in NC and the whole Target bathroom announcement has caused some pretty ugly banter on social media.  What really surprises me is that some of these people who have the loudest voices don’t even know a transgender person.  Sadly this recent activity has caused suicide hotline calls to increase with the incidence of calls from transgender individuals doubling.

As I’ve shared my personal journey, I’ve tried to share the journey of others that I have met along the way.  I try to speak on their behalf and not speak for them, but that is really difficult.  As I’ve tried to relay what I’ve learned, it’s been in my voice.  It is so much better to hear it from the person who has experienced it themselves.  So I think this is the perfect time to hear from some other voices.  Voices that know first hand what it’s like to have a transgender child.  I have three amazing moms who have agreed to be a guest on my blog and share a part of their journey.  I know all of these moms personally.  I have witnessed some of their struggles first hand.  I’ve seen the pain of their children through their eyes.

I will be posting one story a week beginning next week and I will use the picture of my tree as the series picture since it is my symbol of this journey.  I’m excited for you to meet these moms through their written words.  It gives you a chance to step into their shoes.  To me, being willing to learn about another person’s story is an act of love.

And love matters…

 

The face of courage…

In the weeks following speaking at church, people have been telling me that I am brave…that it took a lot of courage to do what I did.  I appreciate their kind words.  It would have been much harder to get up there if I didn’t have so many people praying for me.  I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true.  I really felt like Jesus was sitting on that stage with me.  It gave me the strength to share what I did.  The harder part for me has been the aftermath.  I knew it would be difficult…living in the tension of wondering what people are thinking of me.  The tension of worrying about people being upset and possibly leaving my church…just for having the conversation.  I know that discussions are taking place, but I don’t know the content of those discussions.  I knew all of this going into that Sunday morning, but courage doesn’t mean things will be easy.

Courage looks different depending on the circumstances:

The little girl who is afraid of water, but trusts her dad and leaps into the pool into his arms…has courage.

The little boy who rides his bike without the training wheels for the first time…has courage.

The child who raises their hand in class to answer a question…has courage.

The parent who teaches their child how to drive…has courage…can I get an AMEN (smile).

The recovering addict who swings their legs over the edge of their bed in the morning and faces the day sober…has courage.

The soldier who defends our country…has courage.

The family who waits for their soldier to come home…has courage.

There are many courageous things that people do every day.

I didn’t want to write about this topic.  I felt there had already been a plethora of discussion about it already.  You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard all the verbiage about Caitlyn Jenner recently. Especially when she received the Arthur Ashe award for courage.  Many were up in arms about her receiving such an award.  I like the saying…’Comparison is the thief of joy,’ but I think comparison is the thief of a lot of things.  I don’t think anyone has the right to tell someone they aren’t courageous just because their courage looks different then someone else’s. My guess is that the people who had a problem with her getting the award have never known a transgender person…or the parent of a transgender person. They’ve never buried a transgender child or held vigils at a hospital bed because someone tried to murder them. How would they know what any of them have gone through? How can they judge their courage?

I felt prompted to write about this when I first saw the courage comparisons that were being posted.  I ignored it.  Like I said…so many people had already written about it.  Unfortunately, I still see the jokes on FB about Caitlyn Jenner.  And I guess the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back…was my birthday.  On July 23rd, a transgender woman was murdered…the eleventh this year.  She was 66 years old and was stabbed to death…left for dead in the street.  So you see, the meme’s that you post on FB about Caitlyn Jenner and others make a difference…in a bad way.  They contribute to the misunderstanding of other human lives.  They portray that person themselves as a joke…and I think that is dangerous.

So whether you agree with the person or not…think about what you post.  Think about who may see that post.  The suicide rate among transgender teens is staggering.  Please don’t contribute to their pain.  Think of what it might be like to walk in their shoes…

 

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Love each other because love matters…but how we love matters even more.

 

That’s good enough…

Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do?  It’s happened to me…more times than I can count. From about the time I was five, until I was ten, I was best friends with my mom’s best friend’s daughter (did you get that…it’s a little confusing).  In the beginning of our friendship, things were good.  But as we got older, things began to change.  It became somewhat of a competition, but not one that I initiated.  As my friend and I hit school age, there were some differences becoming apparent with us.  I was skinny as a rail, and she struggled with her weight.  I got good grades in school and she did not.  I was popular…she not so much.  Jealousy began to rear its ugly head. There were many times that she and her brother would get into mischief and when things were discovered they always blamed it on me. There mad womanwere many days when my friend’s mom would get right in my face and yell at me…telling me that I was going to be responsible paying for the latest thing that her kids had broken.

Now that I have kids, I can appreciate how difficult and awkward this must have been for my mom since our mom’s were best friends.  My mom did the best she could to defuse the situations.  She even switched me from public to private school without telling her friend (there were other reasons for this switch as well, but she thought this might be a good break) only to have her daughter switched to the same school.  My friend became very possessive of me and would be really mean to me for having other friends. Things came to a head when I was in the fifth grade.  I had borrowed a book from the library at school.  I don’t remember what book it was, but I do remember it was a big book.  The kind that has several books published in one source.  When it came time to return the book, I couldn’t find it.  I knew for sure I had left it in my desk, but it was gone.  My parents and I searched my house to no avail and I eventually had to pay for it.  I remember it being a lot of money and I was banned from borrowing any more books from the school library for the rest of the year.

One day my mom and I were visiting with my friend and her mom.  I forget how it happened, but we discovered the book hidden in their house.  My friend had stolen it from my desk to get me in trouble.  My mom realized that this was getting serious and drastic measures were taken.  And when I say drastic, I mean drastic. Since we were neighbors, there was no real way to get me away from this girl…not to mention our mom’s being best friends part.  So, my parents put our house up for sale.  Yep…they sold our house.  AND, I changed schools.  But this time, we did it in secret.  It was so hard for me.  I knew at the end of the school year that I was leaving, but I wasn’t allowed to tell any of my friends.  The school actually called the following year to see why I wasn’t at school on the first day. Luckily my friend didn’t follow me this time.  I think they got the hint.  I’m not sure how much contact my mom had with her best friend after that happened, but I’m pretty sure all ties were cut.  It just wasn’t worth it and I think she realized at that point that I wasn’t exaggerating about how I was being treated there.

So, why am I talking about being accused of something I didn’t do?  There was some talk in the media this past week about some states dealing with bathroom laws concerning transgender individuals.  Now, I will admit I don’t know a lot about being transgender.  I have met some mom’s who have transgender children over the past year, but I certainly don’t have first hand experience.  I also don’t mean to imply that what I describe from my childhood above compares in any way to how transgender people feel when reactions to this bill come up.  It is just a small glimpse on my part into how they must feel being accused of something that they have no intention of doing.  I have noticed, and the media confirmed it this week, that every time this issue comes up (transgender individuals being able to use restrooms that they identify with) the topic of child predators comes up.  Comments that people make imply that transgender people have an agenda of molesting children in restrooms.  They may not mean to imply this, but it rings loudly to me so I’m sure it does to the transgender community as well.  Just so you know…transgender people aren’t lurking in the shadows…waiting for each state to pass a law allowing them to use restrooms of the opposite sex so they can molest children.  I mean really??  I’m pretty sure actual child predators aren’t biding time until such laws happen as well.

The definition of transgender is this:

Transgender is the state of one’s gender identity or gender expression not matching one’s assigned sex. Transgender is independent of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc; some may consider conventional sexual orientation labels inadequate or inapplicable to them.

Now I understand wanting to protect children.  As a matter of fact, I never let my children go into public restrooms alone when they were little.  Period.  Problem solved.  A transgender individual who is going to use a restroom will use the restroom they are most comfortable using.  So, a transgender male to female will use the women’s restroom, and a transgender female to male will use the men’s restroom.  Chances are they will look like that gender when they use the restroom.  So a young girl will probably not see a man come in the girls restroom.  I can’t imagine how it feels to be labeled as a child molester when all you want to do is use the rest room.  As a matter of fact, transgender people are much more likely to be violated and have been attacked when out in public.

This only scratches the surface of this issue.  It is a complicated one.  But trust me when I say that transgender individuals go through a lot of turmoil in their life just trying to be who they feel God created them to be.  I don’t know enough about the bills trying to be passed to say that they are the best way to handle this situation.  I do feel, however, that everyone should have rights.  At the very least, let’s change the way we talk about issues like this so that we don’t abuse the people who are in these situations.

I don’t have personal experience with a transgender child, but Debi Jackson does and she does a great job of explaining it here:

I just had to say something about this…even though I don’t have personal experience.  My heart breaks for individuals who have to go through this because it’s been described as being trapped in the wrong body.  Instead of being judged by people who have no real knowledge about what they go through, they deserve our love and understanding…because love matters…to everyone…no matter what.

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