LGBTQA – The New Alphabet

Not that long ago I felt like I had a mouth full of marbles just trying to get four letters to roll off the tongue — LGBT; I kind of knew what each letter of the acronym stood for but didn’t totally feel comfortable with any of them. To clarify, I wasn’t uncomfortable with the diversity of sexual preference or the fact that as people we all have the right to love whomever we choose. It was more about truly understanding what the letters represented, deep down, to those who identified with one or more of them.

For those who are unsure, I offer a primer:

L = lesbian; G = gay; B = bisexual; T = transgender; Q = questioning or queer (depending on who you are speaking to); A = ally

I will get to the “Q” another time. For now, it’s the “T” that is so significant. A transgender individual is one who identifies as a gender other than the one he/she is born with. So, FTM, is someone who was born with female genitalia but affirms as male. MTF is an individual born with male genitalia and identifes as female. We are so programmed to categorize humans as one of two genders. In trans people, the brain and the body are going in different directions. We are learning that not all of us are fit the two gender world we’ve been brought up in.

OK — enough of the wiki for now.

I have to say, I wasn’t shocked when Hunter came out to me. There were little signs all along that seemed to go beyond the “she’s just a tomboy” phase. What does shock me is when parents confess that they were completely “shocked, blown away, had no idea” when their son/daughter affirmed the opposite gender. How, as parents, can we be so out of touch with our children?

Of course, from the moment they are born, we begin formulating our dreams for their future. Who will they be? Will they find professional success? Fall in love? Give me grandchildren? I need to remind myself constantly that these are MY dreams for the life of another. THE MOST IMPORTANT for me — and I remind myself daily — is that I want my children to grow up to be happy, healthy, productive human beings. We need to look at the whole child emotionally, physically, psychologically — they are more than our dreams, more than a GPA and so much more than we often give them credit.  If the path to get there is a little crooked and marred by hurdles and detours, then so be it.


What Do You Say?

The distance between making it “better” and finding “acceptance” is short. The ability to find one’s way on this road less travelled often is a journey akin to climbing earth’s highest peaks.

A year ago, I wanted to make it “better.” I am not sure I knew how nor even where to begin. The task ahead of us hadn’t yet been mapped. The footprints of those before us left a faint trail delivering dead ends and hope interchangeably.

What do you say when your beautiful daughter tells you that she wants to be a boy? In fact, that she is a boy. That even though “I have boobs and a vagina, I am male.” What do you say when your long-haired, hazel-eyed barely 14 year old teen holds a steady gaze and says, “I want to get ‘T’ – I’ve done the research and I need therapy first. So, how soon can we start?” For those uninitiated, “T” is testosterone — a necessary hormone for FTM transition. (FTM=female to male) Did you know that the suicide rate is above 40% for transgender individuals? That’s about 34% above the general population. Did you know that trans teens are at greater risk for self-harm, getting involved with drugs and ending up on the street?

The path to acceptance becomes clearer. We are navigating tumultuous, uncharted territory with the help of some incredibly smart, compassionate pioneers who had the foresight to embrace differences; the insight to understand that we are not all the same. Lucky for us, for our son, for those yet to be born, great strides on this journey are being made.

Whomever coined the phrase, “love conquers all” had it right. What do you say when your child opens up to you and is brave enough to come out and reveal who he authentically is? You say, “I love you.”