Someone said something to me the other day that gave me pause. It was really an AHA moment for me.
As most of you know, I’ve been an outspoken ally and advocate for transgender individuals for the past couple of years. I somehow, suddenly, found myself in the midst of a community I didn’t know. Aside from my son, I didn’t know any trans* people (kids or adults) and didn’t really understand much about many of the struggles.
Along the way, I’ve been privileged to hear some of the stories. These are riveting, touch-me-to-the-core, fascinating tales of survival. When I step outside of my world to peer into the lives of various trans struggles, I am reminded of how our choices impact every twist and turn and bumpy path we traverse throughout our lives.
My friend said, “you decided to stand with trans inside the trans circle.” I had never thought about this before. How else would I support these amazing people? I don’t ever pretend to know or understand what their life is like or what it was prior to their coming out. How could I possibly nod my head in solidarity if I wasn’t one of them?
It never occurred to me that I might be viewed as an outsider. It would be easy to pass judgment on someone that was willing to walk away from their family in order to live authentically. How could they, one might ask? But, I never asked — nor would I. I can only imagine the pain and inner torture a human being must have endured to make the life altering decision to come out and walk out.
And, while I won’t ever know what it feels like to walk in the shoes of a transgender individual, I’ve learned great empathy for anyone identifying differently than what they were assigned at birth. To always feel different, to never feel as if one belongs, to be invisible to the world as your authentic self, brings shame and erodes self worth.
My son said it best. “Your support gave me confidence so I don’t feel ashamed of who I am.”
I am lucky to be allowed in to a club in which I don’t really belong. This inner circle has opened its arms to me for reasons I can only guess. I have met some incredible people who have not only overcome immeasurable obstacles, but have risen above the fray to be important, impactful, productive role models for others (my son, Hunter, included).
It’s a path we might not have chosen but here we are, right? 🙂 I can’t imagine being anywhere else myself.
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It’s so true. You never know where life will lead you.
It is always frustrating when I have the concepts I need to convey clearly but lack the words and phrases to clearly make my point. Can I get an ‘amen’?
I will do my best here.
I’m a transman who was disowned. I was on the street and in terrible living conditions for too long. I was found and brought in by friends who became family. (That’s about the shortest I’ve ever summed that up)
I was lead to believe that family meant they’d always be there, but sometimes it turns out that’s not true. When one is lacking a family or even a part of that basic unit, he or she finds life without guidance which includes the lack of support and confidence. I lacked this for long enough it took me a good few minutes to even write out the word “transman” above. I just don’t like myself or anything about myself. And while I do want to leave that true sentence I would like to be very fuckin clear here, I am jealous of those proud to be themselves. We should be. I should be. You should be. I’m just still workin on it.
The only way to be proud is to know you’ve done a good thing. These people (I guess I shouldn’t use their real names…right? I dunno) that took me in have been in my life consistently and through an amazing amount of shit with me for only about 6 months. Before them I could get away with anything and never had to go to the dentist (it’d been about a decade before my new mom just made me go last week). But so far, I’ve been praised and in trouble; I’ve seen their pride and disappointment; their joy and their sadness; I’ve been hugged, fist bumped and high-fived. And yeah, I have a room, a bed and more food than I’ll ever need. I’ll never be hungry again. But my point (which I’m getting to) is the actual “parenting” that I found I desperately needed.
I needed to be shown that I can mess up and they’ll still love me. I needed to fail and succeed so I could see that everything would be the same at the dinner table either way. I’m ready now to start living my life. I’m a little behind mentally, socially, but gimme a break. Figuring life out as a homeless, deaf, trans person…shit. I got freaked out and stuck. But I’m on track.
Thank you from my heart for being there for your son. He will always need you. And for those who also have lost their family, I’m sure thank you too. And this is why you’re in the “circle” in some people’s eyes. Though you may see it as obvious to love your son, there are plenty who ache for that love. I hope it’s ok with anyone else for me to speak for the group, but we all thank you.
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