I can’t stop thinking about Leelah Alcorn. I’m having all sorts of thoughts and wishes and regrets, and wondering if any of it really matters now.
I keep coming back to a conversation I was having with someone awhile ago about being transgender.
More specifically, this person wanted to know how they should “explain” transpeople to their children.
This individual was coming from an exceptionally strong religious background, and felt like transpeople are some sort of threat to our society.
I found myself bristling at their assertion, sickened and in tears. Still, I wanted to give them some sort of response.
I’ve given this quite a bit of thought. A few months’ worth, actually. I wonder if the acquaintance even remembers our previous dialogue.
As much as I want to dismiss the whole “What about the kids??” schtick, I can’t.
As much as I want to borrow Louis CK’s retort re: gay marriage, I can’t.
As much as I believe that no person requires an explanation to justify their existence to another, I need to say something.
I don’t want to be perceived as hostile. I don’t want to shut down the discussion before it’s even begun.
I think about my friends; my family…and I feel like I owe it to them to come up with a calm, thoughtful reply.
So. After months of rolling this around in my brain like a stone in the current, here’s what I’ve got:
Tell Your Kids We are Made in God’s Image
Point out just how miraculous that is, considering how different human beings can be. Some of us are tall. Some short. Some have blue eyes, some green, some brown, some gray. Some have eyes as colorful as the sunset.
Some have curly hair. Some straight. Some have no hair at all.
So many differences, yet God encompasses them all.
Tell them that their Heavenly Father Makes no Mistakes
Now, this is especially important–I don’t mean “God doesn’t make mistakes, so a person who thinks (knows) they’re trans must be wrong”. Quite the opposite, actually.
There are all sorts of people, and a person’s existence can’t ever be “wrong”.
Rather, I believe it’s the limited view of our society–the gender binary that we adhere to and force people into before they’re even out of the womb–that is the mistake. There is nothing inherently “wrong” with a person who is transgender, even if they decide to change their physical body.
God doesn’t make mistakes, but people do, and it isn’t up to us to dictate how or what another individual’s body or life should be.
People do all sorts of things to alter their physical appearance; to make their outer appearance more aligned with how they feel inside. To make themselves happy. They wear makeup and high heels. They cut and dye and style their hair. They get LASIK surgery, or liposuction, or other types of procedures. Can you imagine shielding your childrens’ eyes and speaking in hushed tones about someone who decides they’d rather be a blonde than a brunette? Talking about “going against nature” when you put on a bit of mascara or red lipstick? No? Then why do the same when it comes to talking about transpeople?
“As I Have Loved You, Love One Another”
Remind your children that God commanded us to love one another, as He has loved us–unconditionally. No exceptions. No excuses.
The funny thing about kids is that they’re resilient, and curious by nature. You’re not required to give them some long explanation. Chances are that your kids couldn’t be less concerned with what’s under another person’s clothes.
If you’re really struggling to “explain” other people to your children, ask yourself if it’s because of your kids’ inability to understand, or if it’s your own discomfort getting in the way. I’m willing to bet it’s the latter.
Teach your children to be kind, and accepting, and non-judgmental. Tell them that they have your love and support, no matter what.
Please. Tell them.
Edit: If you are struggling, you are not alone.
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