recently i’ve read many articles and blogs from folk who have a far less than favorable opinion about parents like myself with regard to our support of our transgender children. some of these articles even raise the spectre of conspiracy citing an industry that is using confused children and their even more confused parents as a means to become rich,i.e. the surgeons, purveyors of hormones etc.
where does one even begin to unravel such a twisted knot of irrational insinuations?
ostracism and misunderstanding are things well known to we parents who support and advocate for our transgender children. our families are ‘uncomfortable’ to the point of severing contact, or merely insisting still to use the wrong pronoun, seemingly going out of their way to do so. child protective services are sent out to investigate us for abuse. people roll their eyes, whisper behind the back…and that’s just the polite ones! sometimes complete strangers who are aware of the situation feel compelled to share (or air) their ‘views’, altho they wont stand still to hear the other side of the matter, instead they harumph and storm away content in their opinion that we are harming our children.
it isn’t possible to explain to such as these that it is small-minded adherence to the demands of paradigms embraced by their dominant culture that is harmful to our children. and not just to our children but to transgender people in general. and not just to transgender but also to lesbian, gay and bi-sexual folk, because it is that same paradigm which serves to justify discriminating, ostracising, oppressing or even out right assaulting creatures of another culture, for simply being who we are.
within every culture that has ever existed there have been ‘sub-groups’ with the culture. sometimes defined by nationality, sometimes by race, religious affiliation, career, language, differently-abledness or even hobbies. there also exist specific cultures based upon gender. most of these sub-cultures are tolerated by the dominant one. it is not considered a problem that the irish are proud to be irish, that the jews celebrate chanukah, that native americans have pow-wows. that catholics cross themselves, that cops hang with cops and doctors with doctors, and of course ‘boys will be boys’ is a good evidence of the absolute acceptance of gender sub-culture.
but in our society, the dominant cultural paradigm affords no quarter for a subculture of gender-variance. it is considered as an affront to god, unnatural, a mental illness. as if this binary system of gender were sacro-sanct. so someone, anyone who challenges this ‘rule’ is seen as a threat, possessed or simply confused.
our children are not possessed, they are not sick, they are not confused. we, their supportive parents, are likewise, not confused. we understand only too well what our kids will be up against as adults within this closed-system society. we also understand that it is important that they be allowed a ‘cultural’ reference, a place within their gender group among their peers. it isn’t necessarily true that boys will be boys, after all…and it is important that these ‘not boys‘ be allowed to ‘grow up’ among their peers; girls!
please read here for words from a woman who knows this.
i have mentioned before that i have more than a few friends that are transsexual. for all of these women, a common regret is that they’ve not ‘grown up’ as girls. they identify a certain sense of having missed out on many aspects of ‘female-gender specific culture’ that one usually grows into with one’s peers.
a long-time friend of mine, whom i have always considered my ‘sister’ and who seven years ago, in her mid-forties finally became the woman she always knew she was, often points out how this lack of a common history within ‘girl culture’ affects her.
she cites the various milestones that girls go through ‘together’ or at least around the same age: the pre-interest in boys ‘they have cooties’ phase, getting breasts body changes phase, becoming interested in boys phase, the multitude of nuanced behaviours including among them such negative ones as cattiness and gossip. she missed out on these. and as a woman in her mid-forties many of these peer-shared experiences wont be repeated for her benefit.
when i once mentioned that as a gender-variant person there was much of ‘girl culture’ that i wasn’t into, she said simply: ‘yes, but you were there.’
like so many other women who have for whatever reason, waited until they were much older to transition, it isn’t only the reality of the irreversible effects testosterone that frustrates her. it is the sense not having been part of, and party to the shared history of others within this ‘girl culture’.
as the parent of a transgender child, having done enough research to know that this ‘phase’ is not a phase; that whether or not i ‘support‘ her, she must eventually become who she is, in my humble opinion it is a part of my parental duties to ensure that she experience the same normal things that other girls her age will. even if i can’t ensure that she wont experience the negative things that NO girl her age will have have to suffer: the exclusion, discrimination, or even assault, i can at the very least be there for her and see to it that she gets to grow up as the girl she is.
culture is important. but culture that prevents a person from being who they are is evil.