Precariously poised on the precipice of puberty, she awaits. She has known her authenticity since she was born. Thankfully, she is brave enough, or most importantly free enough, to share it with us, her parents. Five years and many months since that day, I no longer remember the boy I birthed. I adore this beautiful baby girl who is filled with gentle kindness, fierce determination, and steadfast assurance. In most cases, my girl runs headfirst through life with very little inhibition.
However, there is always this paralyzing panic of the perception of what is to come. It is painful to watch her fear a body that might betray her overnight. To change without notice. That her body will morph into manhood and she will be trapped in a body that is no longer hers. To clarify, she is petrified that one day she will wake up as something other than she. As a result, sleep does not come easily. She does not understand the timeline and that changes occur gradually. And with this fear comes the inevitable anxiety that typically accompanies worry that is all but permanently tattooed on our brain.
I ask myself if she is really any different than my cis children or the children in my medical practice? Are her struggles and roadblocks that different? Some children manifest depression or paralyzing anxiety for other reasons, yet each is still valid. In this, they are the same. As parents, we want nothing more than children who grow up to be happy, healthy, human beings that contribute something positive to the world. In this, we are the same. Some parents are faced with the difficult decision of medicating for ADD or ADHD, others pursue IEPs for behavioral problems or ABAs for children on the spectrum. We all fight for the good of our children. Again, we are the same.
The difference is that we don’t have public debates about the right to medicate your child. We don’t argue in front of legislators about the interventions that your child has the right to access. Those struggles may occur behind closed doors, but they are not on display for the world to see, or more importantly, weigh in on. This is where things are so very different. In fact, even though medical professionals, the American Academy of Pediatricians says these state bills will harm transgender youth, despite the experts warning against harm, the legislators claim to know better.
Why does the world think that they have any right to discuss my daughter’s hormones at a committee meeting, or even worse, in the company of people who are poised to pass dangerous laws and regulations about her? This is where things are just so unfairly different. This is something that we watch my daughter struggle with and it is infuriating to me that people think they should get to have a say in it. I will never discount anyone’s struggles. Anxiety and depression among children are real and dangerous. But can’t we all agree that my family and every other family in the transgender community have the right to address these struggles with privacy and dignity?
How can you help? I encourage you to visit the Human Rights Campaign: Parents for Transgender Equality National Council for information and resources. If you have a trans child in your life I invite you to visit the organization I co-founded, Narwhal Magic Kindness, and request an affirmation package. The best gift you can give a trans youth is the gift of love and affirmation.