Why Parents Of Transgender Kids Are A Special Kind Of Tired
Yes. All parents walking the earth are tired.
We are all absolutely in solidarity with that fact.
We could all use about a week on a deserted island without any children, technology, or responsibilities of any kind.
But I feel the need to tell you about the special kind of tired that parents of transgender kids are experiencing.
It’s different than most versions of tired.
This isn’t to “one-up,” and this certainly isn’t meant to take away from an LGBTQIA child themselves, their own struggles and hardships. This isn’t to take away from or distract from… anyone.
This isn’t a competition.
This is simply to explain and shed light on how we’re feeling, since it’s of my belief that we, the parents of trans youth, are living in our own marginalized community.
Unless we happen to live in some uber progressive area, we are acutely aware of the discrimination that the trans community faces. We see it every day, especially on social media. We hear it on the news, we see how the current administration is rolling back Obama-era LGBTQIA protections.
Or maybe we aren’t as aware as I hope we are. Maybe that’s utopian of me. Because discrimination doesn’t matter to most people until it becomes personal–until it hits you in your heart. Until it’s someone you love.
Although the conversation about trans folks is seemingly becoming more expansive, even a bit more accepted amongst the general public, (especially with advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics recent policy statement advising that the best way to care for trans youth is to affirm them), we still have a long way to go.
And who is leading the fight for trans youth?
Parents. (But not ever to slight or dishonor our trans teens advocating for themselves or our elder trans adult warriors.)
And it is indeed a fight.
The pioneer parents in this fight have been visible on the scene for less than a decade. True publicity and awareness for trans youth has really only been a thing for the last 3-5 years. And amazing strides have been made in many ways.
I, myself, just joined the fight within the last 9 months.
From the short amount of time I’ve been on a mama bear warrior path, yes, I’m a special kind of tired.
Because we are the advocates, the fierce allies, the public speakers, the meeting schedulers, the school board meeting attendees, the researchers, the therapist seekers, the medical professional seekers.
We are the ones out in front of our kids with swords and shields, fighting like hell for equality and basic human rights.
We are fighting for our kids to be heard. To be seen. To be viewed the same as every other child.
We are fighting for policy changes, locally and globally.
We are fighting for bullying protections, for bathroom spaces, for name changes, for gender marker revisions, for medical care.
We are thinking about our children nonstop while they’re at school, wondering if others are being kind, if the correct name and pronouns are being used, if teachers are abiding by our requests, if our kids are being bullied, assaulted, chastised, outcasted.
We are wiping our kids’ tears for far different reasons than those of other parents, fielding emotional meltdowns, especially when dysphoria hits our kids, when they loathe their bodies, when they’re frustrated.
We navigate emotional issues when their peers reject them, when they can’t find jobs, when they can’t participate in sports with the rest of their cisgender peers, when others refuse to use their chosen name or intentionally misgender them, when adults harass them, when people tell them God hates them and they’re going to hell. When their classmates tell them they should kill themselves.
We are running to doctors to treat urinary tract infections because they held their pee all day so they didn’t have to use the bathroom in which they felt unsafe.
We are sometimes not even the biological parents fighting this fight. We are the amazingly unselfish, loving adoptive parents, accepting and affirming someone else’s child who was rejected by their own family, by their own blood. Just for living their truth.
All the while, we are simultaneously defending ourselves from hate.
We are falsely accused of pushing agendas, of having some sort of “liberal” brainwashing scheme that we are somehow instilling in our children and poisoning every other child within a 100 mile radius.
We are falsely accused of administering hormones and “mutilating” our children at the young ages of 7, 8, 9, and 10.
We are falsely accused of being crazy, of making our children mentally ill, of abusing our children, of allowing them to be transgender.
We are told we are wrong.
We are told our children are confused, sick, misguided.
We are fighting false claims coming from anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups, Christian extremists, politicians, none of whom base their claims on facts or research. We fight the ignorance and dismissiveness of the general public.
We are the educators, the question-fielders, the soundboards.
We are losing friends and families, fighting battles that our children might know nothing about.
We are fighting online trolls, personal attacks, worrying about safety for our families, especially since trans women are being murdered at alarming rates.
We are also having to pack away the child we thought we birthed, the assigned gender of our child, the hopes and dreams we had tied up in that little human. Some of us are grieving a loss of sorts that’s very difficult for others to understand. We are grappling, struggling to understand what’s happening, how our child is feeling, how best to help them.
We are putting old pictures away that are hurtful to our kids, literally packing away our memories, careful not to use their birth name, vigilant about using correct pronouns even though it might feel profoundly unnatural to us.
We are doing an unbelievable amount of emotional work.
And we are tired.
Because none of this is for us. This isn’t about us.
Because when we have children, nothing is about us, our needs, our wants.
Because this is about loving fiercely, loving unconditionally, and loving unapologetically.
Because this is about paving the very best path for our children that we possibly can, leading with love and acceptance, working with what we’ve been given in our hate-filled society.
Because that’s what makes our tired a different kind of tired: our tired involves fighting hate, discrimination, prejudice, erasure, and bigotry.
Unfounded, unacceptable, misaligned hate is pervasive in our lives. Just because our kids are trying to live their lives as who they really are, without hurting anyone or interfering with anyone else’s life.
They just want to live. And we just want them to live.
This isn’t an attention grab. This isn’t a post for accolades. This isn’t for praise.
This is for the sake of knowledge.
This is for awareness.
Because we are tired.
And we just want our kids to be able to have the same rights, the same opportunities, as every other human.
And we won’t rest until that’s real.
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