Recently, I’ve become far more active on Twitter, mostly because Facebook is becoming a place where people go to smash their face against walls. That’s not to say that there isn’t a significant amount of political discourse or disagreements on Twitter, but 140 characters also limits a lot of bullshit slinging…to a point.
However, this article isn’t about the merits of Twitter, rather it is about some of the people I have started to get to know and become friends with on Twitter. Most living in the cis-world never come into contact with trans people, or if we do it is in brief passing. Now, I am the parent of trans daughter, but I don’t think of her that way, day to day, nor does she see herself that way. She’s seven, why would she? She knows she is, but transgender issues aren’t really in her wheelhouse yet. She knows there are people who don’t think she should be a girl, and she knows there are people who will be mean because she is. Other than that, we as parents love, support, and shield her from the serious stuff right now.
Now, I have gotten a great handle on the issues facing our children, medical interventions, and all those things that as parents we will need in our bag of tricks. We’ve handled the legal issues (name change, birth certificate name, passport, etc) that really seem to matter, but what about the future? How will she most likely see it, and is there anyone who’s been there and done that who would look out for her as she gets older?
From random postings on Twitter I started to get to know several trans women, and through some common interests, I slowly got to a point where there are several I keep in contact with on a regular basis. What I have found in them is the same fierceness in my daughter, and I have also found some new friends. We began by bonding over my daughter, and their real appreciation for parents who are raising their kids with the freedom to express who they truly are. What for me is a given in how to treat my child, sadly is not a given for many. I already knew this, and many parents do, but to hear some stories, or to be told about fathers who couldn’t or wouldn’t accept their daughters, from daughters themselves, truly breaks my heart.
I’ve gotten to know:
A young lady on the verge of transition, who is just starting to come out of her cocoon, and it is wonderful to see.
A woman who was once a sex worker, and is a happily married college graduate now working to better the lives of trans-children through athletics.
A woman who was forced to leave her family behind, but perhaps has one of the most gentle and loving souls. She is getting to see her children again, and I’m so happy for her.
A woman who transitioned a decade ago, and is around my age. She lives a quiet life, but always has time for her sisters. Her openness and willingness to help others amazes me.
I’ve also gotten to know more vocal advocates, writers, professionals, and I could go on. The point is the the ladies I’ve gotten to know are about love and respect. They are fighting not only for themselves, but also for future generations, for my kids and for any child who might feel different, or marginalized.
I have made friends that I hope to get to know better, and one day hope we can meet in person. I have made friends who would gladly take Fab under their wing, and help her in any way they could, if she should ever need it or if she has questions, we her parents cannot answer, or a doctor can’t explain.
My friends get what it is to be transgender, because they are. My friends get what it is to transition, which is more than just clothes and makeup, because they’ve gone through it, or are going through it. My friends get what dysphoria is all about, and that it is real, and that it can cripple.
Many parents know this, but they don’t get it. How can they? I’ve met parents who are super supportive of their children, but also see they don’t entirely “get it.” It is hard to understand why someone would want to be another gender, or not feel right in the body assigned to them at birth? And this is only talking parents of children who wish to transition. As for non-binary people, it can be even more confusing to understand, and that is also alright. It is enough to love your child and to support that child. You don’t have to “get it” entirely There are those willing to help us as parents. No, there are those just waiting for us to ask for their support.
In the trans-community questions arise as to who can belong, or as to who are allies, and thinking of my friends, most would agree that supportive and loving parents are not only allies, but when it comes to those of us with children, especially younger ones, we are also a part of the trans-community. Consider that we often face the same criticisms and judgments from haters and transphobes, because we are that first line of defense for our children, and because we also are the ones who get judged and ridiculed when it comes to our children. I should also clarify that we only face a tip of the iceberg of prejudice and hate that assaults trans-people daily. However, that is a different discussion entirely. With children unable to vote or advocate, it is parents who lead the charge on behalf of trans-youth, and I can tell you the community notices and applauds parental efforts.
I say the above, to also say if you worry how you would be received reaching out to meet trans-folk, don’t. Just do it. Get to know them, they’re just people with similar likes and dislikes as you or I. Above all, they just want to be happy to live their lives in peace, the same as we want for ourselves and our children. Make some trans friends, not just because it can help your kid, but because it can also make your life a better one. The positive spirit, love, and openness I have been shown is all the proof I need that my life has been enriched, and my hope is, by extension so will my daughter’s.