I want to acknowledge the loneliness of being the parent of a gender-diverse kid. Before you advocates get your lightsabers out, please listen. I am as fierce as they come. I am out there trying to slay every day to make this world a better place for my extraordinary children. But I need to pause for a moment and take stock of another reality. Loneliness.
Tonight, I was waiting for my son’s soccer practice to end, it is a Friday night, and I don’t particularly want to be here. The football team just finished a scrimmage and people are pouring out of the stands. Being a regular, I park myself front and center to wait dutifully for my son. From behind the ticket booth, they emerge. You know them, the very dear friends who just walked away. Here starts the loneliness of being the parent of a gender-diverse child.
If you are the proud parent of a transgender or gender-diverse kiddo, I know you know who I am talking about. The people who were at every birthday party, Superbowl and you got together to decorate Christmas ornaments that perhaps still hang on your tree. They were there for the birth of all your children and in my case through cancer. But when the time came to accept our daughter, they simply vanished into thin air. Here‘s the thing, while she wasn’t my bestie, he was my husband’s.
As much as I want to dismantle the patriarchy and tear apart the binary, I do need to acknowledge that my partner in life is in a lonely place. It is lonely being the parent of a gender-diverse child. His friends have walked away. He had the guts to call my passerby earlier this year and ask why he disappeared. The response is what we expected, because of her. Let me just make this perfectly clear. They walked away from the little person they had visited days after her birth, celebrated, and cuddled. They walked away from the person who ran through the sprinklers and swam in their uncle’s backyard pool at a birthday party. The little person who placed their dripping wet, painted hand on a foam cutout of a Christmas tree, yes, they walked away because of that person.
I am sure they would tell you that they walked away not from her, but from us and our parenting. Perhaps we do not fall in line with their values or don’t want us influencing their own children. I guess that is why they all fell away and the landscape of our lives is so dramatically different. Be they friends or even family, we have lost many. My husband has lost the most.
To those of you who have continued to support your children, grandchildren, or even the kids in your classroom through opposition, my hat is off to you. When all of your friends have quietly exited the room, I see you. If you have had to grapple with the difficult decision of going all-in with your kid or losing your parents, I cannot fathom the depth of your despair, it is real and it really sucks.
I want each of you to know you are the kind of brave written in movies. To place your child’s best interest above the opinions of others is not an easy choice. Again, there is loneliness in being the parent of a gender-diverse child. The easy choice is to blow it off as a phase. To closet your child or cast aside their identity. The real work is in recognizing the beauty in believing people when they tell you and show you who they are. In seeing them not through labels but as human beings. While my stomach ties in knots as they pass in front of my car and tears flow, I know that I can be grateful that I can truly see who they are. They have shown me, and I believe them.