You’ve probably heard the saying, “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives.” These words are so very true.
What other choices do we have in life? Well, depending on where you live, you can choose to practice your religion. You can choose whom to vote for, what to wear, whether to be in a relationship, what to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner, where to go on vacation, whom to call when you’re down, lonely, want to party or just want to hang, ….and so on. Ideally, you can choose to get married (or not), decide to have a family, what kind of car to drive, where to go to school and whether to pursue a hobby, new career path or travel the world.
Did you know that we DON’T choose our gender or sexual orientation? We cannot make someone gay anymore than we can make them straight. Transgender individuals are born already hard-wired. All we know at birth is what we can physically see. The doctor pronounces “it’s a girl (or boy)” based on whether the baby has a vagina or a penis, nothing more. Guess what? It’s really the brain that lets us know whether we are male or female. Most of the time, the brain is on the same page as the physical sex characteristics. However, for a trans individual, whether MTF or FTM, the brain and the body are in two different places (figuratively speaking, of course).
It really is not something we are used to. That doesn’t mean that we can’t accept what is. Believe me, NO ONE would choose to be transgender.
Do you have any idea what trans girls and trans guys go through? Do you have any inkling what it’s like to feel so much like a boy and then look in the mirror and see girl body parts? Can you imagine that? I sure can’t. Do you comprehend the self-hatred that a trans woman experiences when she just wants to feel pretty and feminine and sees a man’s body; a body with a pronounced adam’s apple, a beard, male genitalia and a flat, hairy chest? Me, neither.
Body dysphoria leads to serious depression and ongoing mental health issues. Who would choose this? Keep in mind that this is very different than not liking the way you look in a bathing suit, ladies.
As a parent, I want my son to experience emotional stability. I want him to look in the mirror and see a light at the end of the tunnel. I want him to know that I understand that this is not a choice.
We CAN choose to be accepting. As parents we can choose to find the right resources for our children. There are parents out there who believe that being transgender is a sickness akin to mental illness. They believe that being transgender is against the bible. Some even believe that being anything but heterosexual is as bad as being a sexual predator or pedophile. REALLY?
Showing compassion is a choice.
We are some of the lucky ones. Recently I’ve read numerous stories about trans individuals who have lost their families, friends, jobs, and social circle because they came out. REALLY? I am grateful beyond words that we have been met with acceptance and understanding and compassion and love.
Being transgender is no more a choice than one’s race or ethnicity. My son can choose how he presents himself. Together, we can choose the path for our journey.
AS always I read your posts and sit here nodding my head in agreement.
Thanks, Kat. Our world is complicated.
The concept of gender essentialism, that if you are born a certain way (in this case born as a “man” or “woman”) you inherit certain qualities, is completely false. We proved it wrong with ethnicity and race, and to some extent with the battle of the sexes. And now if only people realize that with gender it’s false, too.
You are so wise, Charlie.
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