As the mother of a transgender son, I have contemplated tackling this topic in a blog for quite some time. As I continue to see social media posts that are either judgmental, or even making fun of trans folks, I finally decided it is time to write. At this point in time, most of us know and love someone who is part of the LBGTQ community. I happen to love several; they are incredible people. I think our society has come a long way in accepting gay people, but I also think we still have a long way to go. When it comes to the trans community, we have miles and miles to go.
Let’s begin with some facts from The Trevor Projects 2020 National Survey on LBGTQ Youth Mental Health:
- 40% of LGBTQ respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered suicide
- 68% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the past two weeks, including more than 3 in 4 transgender and nonbinary youth
- 48% of LGBTQ youth reported engaging in self-harm in the past twelve months, including over 60% of transgender and nonbinary youth
- 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their LGBTQ identity
- 86% of LGBTQ youth said that recent politics have negatively impacted their well-being
As a parent and teacher, these statistics are terrifying. I love all of my children fiercely and without judgment. Has our journey been simple? Of course not. As a parent who gave birth to three girls, and then have one come out as transgender was not easy. Did I love him any less? Of course not. I continued to love and learn. I still mix up the pronouns. After saying “she” for over 20 years, it’s just habit. Sometimes when I am talking about Andy as a child, I say “she” because that was correct at that time. I did try to get him to keep the name Addison because it was originally a male name, but he wanted a fresh start. Even though it was a bit sad because I loved his name, I accepted his choice and moved on.
I believe that many people cannot accept something they don’t understand, so rather than try to learn more, they choose to criticize and make jokes. It’s not funny; it’s infuriating. It is also hurtful, not only to Andy and other trans individuals, but to their family and friends. It breaks my heart when I see derogatory posts about the LBGTQ community.
Andy told us, as well as all of his friends, to please ask questions. Fortunately, my children and my husband are open with each other, and we have asked questions. I have also read a lot, and will continue to read. I will not pretend to understand everything, but I know that I cannot imagine feeling like I am in the wrong body. I can imagine feeling like I don’t fit in with other women because I don’t feel like a woman. I cannot imagine being afraid to live my life because of others’ ignorance and bigotry.
I have seen posts that say that God doesn’t make mistakes. If that were the case, how does one explain a child born with a defect? Should the doctors not operate on that child because God doesn’t make mistakes? Sometimes nature does make mistakes and there is no explanation. To expect a person to live his or her entire life in the wrong body because we are uncomfortable with gender identity changing is absurd. We are all so much more than our gender. We should all be better than that. For those who cannot accept others because of their “religion”, I am not sure which God they believe in. I have a very strong faith, and my God teaches love above all else. I believe the overall message of the Bible is to love without judgment and let God sort it all out in the end.
Our family has learned and grown the last three years. Andy had top surgery in December, and the confidence he gained is incredible. This summer he can actually swim and be active outside and feel comfortable. We are proud of his willingness to live his life as he sees fit, and not how society expects him to live. He is intelligent, kind, creative, and driven. He works hard; he would do anything for anyone; and he loves without judgment. I am incredibly proud of the young man he has become.
If you have questions about gender identity, there is a lot of literature out there. Learn more. Be an advocate. Care about your fellow humans. Be part of the solution rather than the problem. Don’t let another kid die because he didn’t feel his life was worth living. And if you really want to do something, support the Trevor Project, which works to help youth in the LBGTQ community.
The Trevor Project. 2020. National Survey on LBGTQ Youth Mental Health 2020. The Trevor Project National Survey