Shopping for dresses on Sunday, Fab picked up her first “real” purse…because all fabulous girls must have one. This is the exact purse she has, except for the letter on front, which matches the first initial of her real name. The purse is covered in sequins, and being bright pink…she had to have it, and being a doting father I couldn’t say no to this “first.”
Because I share…here is a link where the purse can be picked up. Holiday season is upon us, and I know there are other little girls out there that I’m sure would love it as much as Fab loves her. For now she is content using it as a carrier for a special stuffed animal and her wallet.
Now…On to our regularly scheduled program!
However, the more we’re out in public, and with the shocker of Trump coming into the White House it does give me pause to think about our privacy, and especially that of my daughter. We fostered both Fab and her brother before adopting them, and so we have played the careful game in the past when it comes to sharing information. As time goes by you stop worrying so much, and yet with recent events new concerns have emerged which have forced me to rethink Facebook, with Fab in mind.
I think this is a hot topic right now for many parents of transgender kids. Who do we trust?
Can we trust family? This is a hard one, because we’d all like to say yes, but I doubt all extended family will be on board for everyone. I have real concerns about mine. On one side of the family, we don’t talk to anyone anymore. After my grandmother died there was a split, and it’s probably not a bad thing as that is the most bigoted part of my entire family (mother’s or father’s side). This also means I don’t need to worry about them on Facebook, or anywhere for that matter. Aside from the cousins from one aunt, all my cousins are very supportive of Fab being herself. My aunts and uncles who have been told are also completely supportive of Fab, and wish her nothing but the best. I do have one uncle that concerns me at times. An outspoken Trump supporter, he doesn’t mind trolling family on Facebook, but I also think there is enough decency there that he would never make Fab feel bad for who she is. It’s a judgement call that I hope I don’t screw up, but as his wife supports Fab fully, and as I know my cousins will…I think it will be enough to keep him decent.
Family is that rough question, because it is also the hurtful one if responses and reactions are not what you hope they will be. I feel as if that information needs to be shared verbally or in person when it comes to those closest to your nuclear family, but rarely do people say negative things in person. However, if nervous usually Facebook can give a snapshot into a person’s leanings or beliefs. If your gut tells you something, you are probably going to be right, and while you may tell your family, it doesn’t mean you need to maintain negative Facebook friendships or any with family who cannot accept your child for who he or she is.
Can we trust friends? This becomes a harder question, unless we break it up and make it easier to deal with. I don’t live near my oldest friends. We moved to a new state in our twenties, and so my friendships with my “lifelong” friends has been maintained over Facebook in many cases. These are the people I knew back when. People I always saw eye to eye with, and I have shared with some, but not all, about Fab’s transition. Those I have shared with I reached out to, and others I haven’t shared with yet. For some it is due to laziness (they may never meet Fab, so no rush.), and others out of trepidation of how they might react, and the hurt I know I would feel as a result. All of that said, most of these friends will accept with open arms. After all, they were my face to face friends, my peeps. They got me back then, and they still get me today. So if my face to face friends are good, then what about my Facebook friends?
Facebook friends are the tricky ones, and I’m coming to the realization that I’m going to have to cut some of them out of my life, for my sanity and for Fab’s sake. Typically, I have never been one to drop people, but if I wish to continue to use Facebook it may become necessary, especially as my advocacy grows, as do my friendships with other parents of transgender youth. Eventually, I will out myself, or be required to have conversations with some people I’d rather not. I think if you read my blog, or if you know me from any FB groups, you know I’m not afraid to talk, but it also isn’t my place to out Fab…that is her call, and at seven it really isn’t a call she is fully equipped to make in all situations.
So…Facebook Friend List? I think most of us can break up our friend list along the following lines on Facebook:
- Family – actual family members who you have found, or have found you on Facebook. For me these tend to be the safest people when it comes to Fab.
- Face to Face Friends – People that you are currently or in the past that you met outside of Facebook and became really good friends in person. Most of these people I feel like I can trust, because we cultivated real world friendships where common interests and beliefs are important. Still provides a need for care, as some people can change over time, and you need to know who those people are.
- Face to Face Acquaintances – These could run the table from former classmates, students, work colleagues, sports enthusiasts, hobby enthusiasts, etc. These are people you have met in person, and may have a point of interest in common. Maybe you played on sports team together, or maybe you shared a cubicle row. You never really hung out with them, and you probably never will. There may be a few here that you might share with, but these are also people that, while they may like playing basketball with you, they may be ardent Trump supporters or against your child’s right to exist as his or her authentic self. The good thing is their Facebook feed will probably give you and idea. I think these people might make up the majority of our Facebook friendships, and are also the second easiest group to cut people from if need be.
- Facebook Only Friends – These are people I’ve never met in person. They found me through common interests, or through a friend of a friend in most cases. These people I know only from their Facebook persona, which means to say I do not know these people at all. These are the easiest to cut from your friendship roster because most are just there to pad friends’ stats, and we rarely interact if at all.
How do I go about cutting people?
For me, and I would think for any of us the question could also be phrased, “who could be a source of negativity when it comes to my child?” From there I will start going through my friend’s list.
- Facebook Friends – If I don’t know you, and I haven’t communicated with you in the past year, then…YOU’RE GONE!!! Our lives change as we get older, and the people we need in our lives also change. I don’t need 500, hell, I don’t need 300 Facebook friends to feel important. I have a wife and two little ones who do all of that just fine. Sure, we feel a need to be like and accepted but there are plenty of people like that out there, so go find them and make new friends.
- Face to Face Acquaintances – Same goes for these people. I may not drop everyone, but I may look at some of their feeds with two questions in mind:
- Are they a cause of potential strife or stress for me?
- Are their beliefs so out of line with my own that I know they would never accept my child?
- If you answer to any of the above questions with a yes, then I think you need to seriously consider cutting those friends, and that statement is as much for me as it is for anyone else who might be reading this. There’s no real point for being friends other than to share things that could be potentially damaging to you in some manner, and it is stress you and your child do not need.
- Face to Face Friends – Harder to drop, because they are more like family, but as I’ve said, some people do actually change. They find religion, become more conservative, become more bigoted, etc. In other words they are no longer the person you used to tear up the town with. Memories of the past are the only reason you two are friends on Facebook, and while you may be the same in spirit, this is not always the case. Some people get “old.” Old of body isn’t a bad thing, but for me old of spirit…doesn’t work, and never will. For these friends I take more of a family like approach.
- I may not call them, but I will probably feel them out with a text or Facebook message. Their response will often be all I need to know. A lack of response can also be telling.
- They may drop you on their own, but if not, I will follow up a lack of response once with a message like, “Did you see the message I sent about Fab?” Now, they have to respond, and if they don’t, then cut them because they don’t care about being friends and/or they disapprove of your kid, which means you shouldn’t want to be friends with them.
- You might also call to share with them, or get together for a coffee, lunch, etc. Like I said, most of my friends are long distance, so it informs my approach. I can say for those neighbors who are also Facebook friends, I shared in person, and to date that has gone well.
While we hope that all our friends we share with will be accepting, our hope is probably not a realistic one, because people are human beings. Know when there is a chance to educate, and when you should just cut your losses…you’ll save yourself grief and sadness if you can do this. Yes, you may still be sad to cut people, but cutting people with wasting energy on the impossible ones is still a better option than burning yourself out trying to changes minds that cannot be changed.
Finally, make new friends! There are other parents out there who get you, will accept your child unconditionally, and who are happy to listen, let you vent, and seeking advice from your own personal experiences. Let’s face it, our children are unique, and have unique issues facing them that most cannot relate to. This is where Facebook can shine for us. In the past what were the chances of finding others to share with? Now you can easily find hundreds of parents who are willing to support others just like themselves.
Yes, Facebook book and I have what I call a “Hate/Tolerate” relationship, but that tolerate is improving due to new doors it has opened up to me regarding my little girl. This weekend will be interesting as I begin to cut the chaff from my Friend’s List, but the election results only confirm what I already know. My normal has shifted this year, and with it so to my friends will shift. I’ve already begun to add some wonderful folks, and now I just have to begin the cutting. It’s time.