After a full day of work, I come home to pick up my older two children to take them to soccer practice. My daughter is patiently waiting for me by the door. Typically, this is not a good sign. “Mommy,” she said, “we need to talk. School was not good. I’m coming to ride in the car with you.”
As we drive in silence, she takes out her computer and starts putting her words to paper. When we arrive at soccer practice, she tells me that it is too hard to talk and that she needs me to read her book. I am thankful because her school recently gave her access to book writing software and it is a great tool to help her get her feelings on paper. She is just like her mother in that regard.
In her story, she describes PE class that day. The children engage in playing capture the flag when suddenly there are whispers and commentary. Someone has directed that they should “go easy on the girls” and my daughter becomes visibly upset. In the story, her best friend is off to the side participating in the chatter. This is the moment where I hold my breath. Authentic friendships are really important in life, aren’t they?
Lesson Number One: Children are so powerful.
My daughter is incredibly astute when it comes to gender stereotyping and sexist remarks. In her 10 years on this planet, she has grown into a force fighting sexism and gender roles and stereotypes. Yes, you read that correctly. She is merely 10 years old.
Lesson number two: We need to STOP categorizing people by gender.
My daughter recognizes that when we’re taking it easy on the girls or playing like a boy, we do not leave room for people who identify outside of the binary. She has friends who identify as non-binary and she embraces their truth just as she does her own. My daughter is not alone. In their study of gender stereotypes in socially-transitioned transgender children, Olson and Enright found that “transgender children and siblings of transgender children show less gender stereotyping and greater tolerance of gender nonconformity than other children.”
Lesson number three: Although she is brave, my daughter feels these microaggressions deeply, and so do her peers.
My daughter is extremely upset about what happened. She laments about how hard it is to be transgender. People innocently throw gender stereotypes in her face all of the time. She explains to me that these kids do not understand how hard her life is. She is constantly reminded of her “otherness” when people impose rules, regulations, laws, and norms on her and her trans and non-binary friends. Even when these rules are simply enforced in a capture the flag game. In their presentation titled Transgender Youth: Needs, Risks, Outcomes and the Role of the System, Dr. Johanna Olson discusses the impact of systems, sexism, and heteronormative behavior on transgender people and the harms and adverse outcomes such societal structures inflict.
Friends, it amazes me what a simple capture the flag game has taught me. What it can teach a group of 10-year-olds. In short, my daughter gives me hope for the future. As I witness her and her friends navigate the ins and outs of something as simple as capture the flag, I realize that her school friends are always listening and watching. Above all, they love her and want the best for her. Though her path is not easy she will-Be The Change.
Love is possible. Change is possible. Now go grab that flag like the badass human being that you are.
Note: Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and open my email messages. The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was created in 2004 to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.
The date of May 17th is specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
On this day, I remember the 23 known transgender people who have been murdered in 2021 already. According to Everytown for Gun Safety 72% of recorded trans murders have happened with guns and 78% of those murdered were black. With 44 known murders, the year 2020 is the deadliest on record for transgender. The year 2021 poises itself to break that record. My reader, by becoming educated and articulate about what it means to be transgender or non-binary, you are making a difference. When you come back each week to read my quick blog post reflecting on my life, on my privileged life, your veil is lifted. The plight of transgender women, particularly those of color, cannot be underestimated.
Today, I am asking you to donate $5.00 to The Human Rights Campaign. HRC has been at the forefront of combatting the caustic legislation that is further marginalizing our transgender children, sisters, brothers, aunties, and uncles. Above all, we thank you for your support.