I mentioned yesterday on Twitter and Facebook that our 16-year-old has come out to us as transgender.
We were very proud for her in having the strength to talk to us for starters. She has done so much research and soul searching on this, that it was time. Her shock came in how we embraced her words and offered to help. I suppose any child is afraid to tell their folks for fear of rejection. Imagine the surprise when not only did we accept that they want to look at becoming a trans male and choosing a new masculine name, but offering to help find the connections they need to move forward on this.
Those of you regularly reading my work would know we are not the most traditional of situations, to begin with, but our children don’t quite fathom this. Our two teenagers are aware to a limited degree, and in this case, 16 is the younger of the two teens.
The pronouns and name will take some getting used to after 16 years of calling her and by a female name, but it would be completely hypocritical of what my wife and I are not to support and guide in this. Even writing this is difficult as I keep wanting to refer to my daughter, but knowing it is not how he would want that. I shall soldier on. I already had to go back in that first paragraph just to edit the pronouns.
Thus yesterday we took them and their younger sister down to The 519. The 519 is one of Toronto’s best-known community centres for the LGBTQ+ community at 519 Church Street, just north of Church and Wellesley.
For anyone walking in, the place looks like any other community centre would look like with the reception desk, sitting area, and office listings. At first, we did a cursory search for literature laid out for any groups or meetings that we could be part of. Next, the receptionist was very helpful in giving us a listing exactly of what we wanted and also two councilor names involved with youth and/or trans issues. A volunteer overheard us and came out for a quick discussion that gave us more references.
The volunteer also introduced us to the group PFLAG. PFLAG is Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays which I will be talking further about in a future post.
All fantastic helps, as we thank them for this.
At one point the volunteer stopped, pointed at me and asked, “Are you the father?”
I said yes and the shock on the volunteer’s face was hard to miss. Another gentleman who had come out with the volunteer said he was in awe of the fact I was there.
At first, the pride of knowing I had done right for my child swelled, but then disappointment kicked in.
No one at The 519 did anything wrong, absolutely to the contrary. We will be using their help going forward.
The disappointment came in realizing that these people rarely see the fathers bringing their children in and supporting them in this transition.
One could write some of this off to the child, afraid to tell the folks at first, coming in on their own. I’m hoping this is the majority of the reason that my appearance in this scenario was so rare. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem realistic.
The other is that many of these people show up looking for help without the support of their fathers.
Here we were with these three strangers all willing to give my child a helping hand with no questions asked. The thought of anyone walking in their alone without the support of either of their parent’s (or both) devastated me.
This is where I take a deep breath before starting to yell at these men.
SHAME ON YOU, YOU BASTARDS!!!
Sorry, I failed there.
The disgust that, even once, any father or mother would refuse to support their child in this is a disaster. There is so much talk of mental issues requiring heavy therapy in the LGBTQ+ community and with parents that won’t support their children in these transitions, is there any wonder why?
Obviously, archaic traditional religious thinking has much control over these reactions. Another problem is the theory that the offspring’s actions and choices reflect on the parents. Am I the only one that thinks this is literally backward thinking? The antecedent to rebellious children would often be the actions and choices made by said child’s parents.
Step backward here in that gay, lesbian, and trans is not a choice. The choice is whether or not to ignore the impulses one’s nature might have, and I’m a firm believer that ignoring what one actually is could be the most unhealthy of choices.
Our child may, or may not move forward with medically altering from female to a trans male. My wife and I will get this child all the help we can. They will make an informed choice with our support regardless of what that choice turns out to be. The choice, however, will not alter how we view this youth in our lives.
This life is the child’s, and not ours. Our life is to guide them to where they need to be and where they need to go for them. To quote that Genesis tune I opened with:
“It’s not about us anymore…”
Good as those strangers in the reception at The 519 are, imagine how your child would be with your support behind them as well.
Well, even that is not entirely true. We, as parents, are in a better place when we support our children. Getting them the help they need is what will reflect well on us in the long run.
More importantly, it will help our next generation feel free to choose what life they need to live. That is something worth exploring.