Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, is one of the most talked about people of the year. Here you have a man who, late in his life, has decided he would come out to the world as a transgender personality. He has spent his entire life fathering children, married to women and assuming the roles of a traditional man. And yet he does not identify as a man and never has. He’s an Olympic gold medalist and a public speaker. He is everything that a role model should be, yet there are people who are now stating that he cannot be a role model because of the way he feels on the inside – like a woman. Everyone has an opinion. Some don’t get it. Some are relieved because they struggle with the same conflicted feelings and haven’t a role model. Some are confused, but not really affected by it. I think that Caitlyn is actually more attractive as a woman than a man, and I don’t care how she chooses to live her life so long as she’s not hurting anyone in the process.
But that could be because I’m not affected by her transition. She’s not a part of my family and I can say with honesty that if she were my child, I would very likely feel differently. I’m not in the situation of parenting a child who may identify as the opposite sex, so I just don’t know. What I do know is this; it’s all right to have an opinion and it’s all right to be terrified if you believe that your child might be transgender.
So many people want you to just accept things as they are because they have already accepted them, or because it’s considered open-minded to do so. I agree, but I also disagree to an extent. There is much to worry about with transgender children, and it’s all right for parents to feel confused, terrified and afraid. It’s all right. I’m here to tell you that it’s all right. I know I have no experience with this, but I know that I would be terrified if one of my four beautiful children approached me with the information that he or she identified as the opposite sex. I would be scared. I would be afraid because the world is already a cruel and hate-filled place. It doesn’t matter how much we teach our children to be kind, respectful and open-minded; there are always those who do not feel the same way and treat others with hate, meanness and ugliness – I cannot change that.
I’d be afraid for my child, and for my family. I’d be afraid that my child would become depressed when other people his or her own age did not accept his or her feelings. I’d be afraid my child would not be able to handle the pressure of being ‘non-traditional’ or the way that everyone treats him or her. I’d worry about his or her future, about her feelings and about his mindset. I’d worry. I’d worry about me. Am I being supportive enough? Does my child feel how much I love him or her?
At the end of the day, I love my kids more than life itself. I know I will always love my kids. I don’t care if they are gay, straight, transgender, purple, pink or (shudder) Democrats. I don’t care. They’re my kids and I love them, and I will support their decisions so long as their decisions are not hurtful to others or from a place of hate. I will support my kids, but I would worry that I didn’t come across as supportive enough because I am worried and scared.
There’s much to worry about in everyday life, and this is something that would worry me. But the good news is this; the world is changing. When my parents were growing up, race was an issue that was unresolved. Sure, it still is now, too, but it’s much better. When my parents were growing up, women typically stayed home with their kids and did not have lives of their own since they were more caregivers than anything else. The world has changed. When my parents were growing up, homosexuality was not something people discussed, and it was certainly something that those who were gay or lesbian hid. When my parents were growing up, transgender people did not talk about their lives.
Today, the world is different. People are more accepting of differences. Tradition is somewhat a thing of the past. Race is less an issue in many places. If a black woman married a white man when my parents were growing up, the world would gasp and gossip and hate on it. Today, it happens every single day and people just go to the wedding, have one too many drinks and dance the night away. Today, those who prefer to be in same-sex relationships have a much easier time being themselves, and fewer people actually care. Today, transgenders are opening up to discuss something that they’ve lived with much of their lives and they’ve done so with poise and grace.
If your child identifies as transgender, be afraid. Feel your fear and accept it. It’s never going to go away. But also accept your child, be there for him or her and be open. The rest of the world might not be so kind, and your child needs you now more than ever. If this is your child, it’s perfectly fine to feel fear and sadness, upset and even terror; but it’s not okay to take that out on your child. Be the parent you always wanted to be; after all, that’s what you signed up for when you decided it was time to start having babies. It’s all right to feel the fear you will experience, just remember that. Never forget that no matter how alone you feel, your child probably feels much more alone than you might imagine.
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