So my good friend from high school is having a baby in a few short months. Children bring up a lot of feelings for me these days. My first and foremost thought was that I will never be able to have a biological child. And that’s sad. I never wanted kids before. I never wanted to be a father. But I do want to be a mother some day, and if that means adoption, that’s fine, too. I guess the future will decide what happens there.
But it also got me thinking about how hard it must be to raise a child in this generation, specifically in regards to what else, gender issues. As my friend was making a big “gender reveal” plan, I was trying to figure out how I felt about that without crashing her party. My gut reaction was, “that kid has no idea what their gender is!” but then I thought about it a little more. How do you raise a child without a gender? You don’t. That’s it. You can’t do it and have that child turn out okay in the world we live in.
But why? Well, what else do you celebrate about an unborn baby? I can’t speak for my friend, or anyone else, but it seems like it’s just a reason to get excited that you can label. It’s a huge, exciting, nerve wracking thing, so why not celebrate? And there’s nothing wrong with that. So yeah, okay. A gender reveal. What are the chances that kid is going to be trans, anyway?
But how do you raise a child, of whom you assigned a gender to, to be open to themselves possibly being trans, or more likely, to be accepting of other trans people? Language and attitude is important. Someone who I trusted insinuated I was a “faggot” for wearing a bracelet on my ankle when I was probably around 11. An adult. And that stuck with me. He probably doesn’t remember, but I do.
Little things like that are big for a kid. Teaching that being gay or trans is a bad thing, even when you don’t come right out and say it. Even things as minuscule as colors are important. Teaching the idea that girls can wear blue, but boys can’t wear pink. When I was crocheting a blanket for my friend, I specifically picked a yarn that had pink and blue in it. Was that choice a little self-serving? Yeah, it was. The last thing I want to do is to tell my supportive, good-hearted friend how to raise her baby. I don’t want to push my “agenda” onto her parenting. But I felt like if I contributed to the cultural norm and made her a pink blanket, even though I love pink, I wouldn’t have been being true to myself.
More importantly, though, just talk to your kids. Let them know that being gay is normal. That being trans is normal. Let them explore and cross gender lines when they’re young. I hear the phrase “that’s not for boys,” or “you need to act like a lady,” regularly at my night job, and it makes me so mad. Let your kids be kids. Don’t force them to obey your stupid arbitrary gender norms. Don’t bully you kid. There are enough people that will try regardless. Your job is to let them know that they can be who they are.
So help me fight like a grrrl so the next generation doesn’t have to.
Update: the next few posts are going to share some themes such as slurs, politically correct language, and privilege. They can be read individually as a whole, but they do play on each other.
We’re going on two and a half weeks without an answer, now. Whenever I ask for an update, all I get is “HR is still deciding, you’ll get an answer when we do.” At this point I have to assume I’m the first trans person that’s been here, and either they’re researching a legal way to say no, or creating policy. I guess we’ll see.