Migration is a concept Americans typically attribute to those outside of the United States. Politicians argue about immigrants entering the United States because of our incredible resources. People all over the world are refugees from oppressive governments or war. Climate migration is something the World Health Organization grapples with. But what happens when oppression comes from within our borders and forces our citizens to relocate? What about the forced migration of families of transgender children?
A Recent Getaway
“Wow, the alpha generation is a utopia” are the words uttered as we sat on a picnic bench at the base of Killington, Vermont. I was drawn to them because of the inclusive pride flag and their incredible biking shirts with the words “ride gay.” As I approached, I explained that I am the mother of an incredible transgender child who, at the age of 5, came to me to share her identity. She is now eleven. I wanted to pick their brains.
After flying into Manchester Airport we rent a car and drive into Vermont. Weeks earlier I had researched LGBTQ+ friendly destinations and overlayed the best retirement spots. That was our map. We started north and made our winding way south. Starting in Eden, Burlington, Montpelier, and then meandering down through Stowe, Woodstock, and Killington. My new friends encouraged me to visit Brattleboro and Plainville. Sitting at the bench we spoke of schools and politics, TERFS (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists), and quality of life. They loved the places we fell in love with, in fact, two recently purchased homes in that area. We could do this, we could move, but should we have to?
My dear friends in Florida visited the day before I left for Vermont. They are being forced to relocate or face the fact that they will not be able to provide medical care to their transgender daughter. Our girls are best friends. We might not see each other every day but when they come back together it is a breath of fresh air, not having skipped a beat from the last visit. That day our trans family also sat at a picnic bench, but our conversation was in stark contrast to mine in Vermont.
The forced migration of families of transgender children is horrific and make no mistake, is happening to our community. Florida, Texas, Ohio, and 17 other states give families of transgender children no choice but to flee or discontinue treatment. Relocation means they are walking away from their community, one that they have worked so hard to build. They remove their children from their schools and friends. Migration means finding new jobs and a home during a crazy housing market. And they are the lucky ones, resettlement is an option for their family. What about those without resources?
A friend mentioned in passing, “you have a choice.” Those words fall easily off the tongue of a person without skin in the game. We are the parents who were blind to the beauty in gender diversity prior to our young children opening our eyes. The steadfast parents who make medical decisions with specialists and agonize about the path that we walk. We are the ones our children turn to in moments of dysphoria and transphobia, even as we face hate ourselves. We stand by our children and understand that living authentically is not a choice, it is unconditional love. So, yes I guess we choose. We can choose the forced migration of families of transgender children. These sideline quarterbacks are correct, we do have a choice, and we are choosing life for our children.