I’m writing a blog on a Sunday which is supposed to be my day off. I’m here at my keyboard because I’m home alone and bored but, more importantly, because something came across my Facebook feed that made me sick. And I feel a deep need to respond.
Michelle Duggar, the head spawner and matriarch of 19 Kids and Counting on TLC, is campaigning in Arkansas against an anti-discrimination bill that would safeguard housing, employment, and other public accommodations (meaning bathrooms and locker rooms among other public places). Duggar has spewed misinformation that transgendered people are pedophiles, looking to prey on children in public restrooms.
Here is a link to a story on Huffington Post:
In an open letter response to Michelle Duggar, mom Mary J Moss attempts to set Duggar straight. Moss is the parent to a transgender son. She is active in the transgender community, and knows many children who have made the transition into their true identities.
Here’s the link:
As a mom, I don’t understand how you could slander children who are in pain. Because, from what I’ve learned and read, transgender children and adults, as well, go through a gut wrenching process to accept their true gender, come out to their families, friends, and communities, and make the permanent transition. Six-year-old Ryland Whittington’s parents made a bold move when they made a video explaining why and how they let Ryland transition from a girl to a boy at a young age.
This video moved me. It made me cry. I aspire to be like these parents. They accepted that their very small child had a very big problem. They did their research and bravely moved forward with the solution. After some thought and consideration whether he was old enough, I showed the video to Mini-me. I told him it was important and I wanted him to pay attention. He asked a few questions along the way. In one part of the video, there was a statistic about suicide. The suicide rate among transgendered individuals is 40%. In the general population it’s 3%. Mini-me didn’t know what suicide was. I explained that it was when someone was so sad they decided to kill themselves. That made my sweet little man sad and he needed a Mom hug. But he made no comment whatsoever about the fact that a little girl would want to be a little boy. It just was what it was. It makes me feel really good that my sensitive little guy cares about people enough to feel badly that anyone would want to die. He really is a beautiful gift in this savage world.
I explained that he might meet people in school who would be like Ryland. And that he would meet people who wanted to have boyfriends or wanted girlfriends and that none of it mattered. What mattered, I told him, is whether they were good friends and good people. He said, “I know” and scampered off.
As a parent, one of my most important goals is to teach Mini-me empathy. I want him to be a compassionate person to all people. Mini-me, while wonderful, isn’t your average kid. Diagnosed by the school as having high-functioning autism and ADHD, I think his diagnosis is closer to depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Plus he’s extremely bright. I know every parent says that about their kid but this one is actually true. He’s reading at least at a fifth grade level. We don’t know the real level because the test maxed out at fifth grade. And he has already absorbed multiplication up to the 12 tables.
But it’s more than school-based learning. His mind works in a way that amazes me. It makes me wonder if my parents felt that way about me. I am actually a tested and certified genius although I don’t count it for much because I still can’t balance my checkbook. Mini-me looks at the world in a way that is logical and orderly. He thrives on structure and when it changes, it disturbs him. I try to involve him in art as much as possible. I’m trying to show him that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to make messes, it’s okay to be creative and random.
He doesn’t do well with other kids. After observing him for a few years in his karate lessons, I noticed that he just doesn’t seem to understand the behavior of other kids. They don’t make sense to him and, because of that, it causes him anxiety. He doesn’t seem to understand why they don’t follow the rules or why they need to get in his personal space. He’s brilliant with adults. He’s able to carry on fairly sophisticated conversations comfortably. He also plays with the older kids at recess or by himself.
It doesn’t really matter to what Mini-me identifies as. Whether he’s got anxiety or he’s a genius or both is immaterial. If he’s gay, straight, or transgendered doesn’t matter. I’ve frequently joke that I don’t care if he’s a cross dresser just so long as he’s well dressed. There will be no gaudy cross dressers at my kitchen table, thank you very much. It does matter to me that he is kind, which he is. The biggest priority for me is that he’s comfortable talking to me about whatever he is feeling. It breaks my heart every time I see a news story about a preteen or teenager who has succeeded in suicide because they couldn’t come out to their families or were bullied at school.
I’ve written in this blog about my suicide attempt. I know first hand the bleak, desperate feelings with go along with gathering the necessary materials and making that last final choice. I was lucky enough to be saved. So many aren’t. And my heart just aches for each and every one of them. When Mini-me was about five, he told me that he wished his father would run over him with the car so he could die. It was the first time he expressed suicidal thoughts but not the last. When i asked him why, he told me that life was just too hard. My kindergartner. My baby. I was rendered breathless. Since then, he’s gotten a lot of attention including therapists, counselors at school, and a psychiatrist. He now takes a small dose of an anti-depressant. It’s made an amazing difference. He is less anxious and less prone to anxiety-induced meltdowns. He doesn’t talk about suicide anymore.
I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure that Mini-me is not one of those desperate, bleak-hearted children. In our house, when we talk about couples we always say “when you have a girlfriend or boyfriend”. Recently a friend of mine and her wife were blessed with a baby girl. Eli loves babies so I showed him the pictures and made sure to point out that the new little one has two mommies. I hope that I am creating an atmosphere of inclusion. I can’t control what happens at his father’s house, but I can teach him that Mom is a safe-haven so that if he ever needs one he knows where to go.
No matter who he is or what he becomes, his Mom loves him desperately. He is my miracle baby and my gift to the world.