The Tweens, They Are A-Changing
I found an amazingly sweet article today about the father of a pair of identical twins, one of whom is transgender. According to this background piece, Sylvia (names changed in the original article) knew that she was a girl at the age of 4, when she asked “When do I get to be a girl?” Fortunately, her family was willing to get support, work through the challenges, and help her instead of shaming her or forcing her to “be a boy.”
While the background piece describes some of Sylvia’s experiences and offers a lot of excellent information about transgender youth, I’m especially impressed by her father’s story. He opens up his heart and describes both the difficulties he faced and the joys that his daughter inspired:
My 12 year old transgender daughter is my mentor. It’s tough to put into words what a profound impact this small person has had in changing my core values, but since the young age of five, she has unknowingly encouraged me to open my eyes and heart to new ideas. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve watched her experience severe emotional pain and physical frustration, but thanks to support and guidance, I’ve watched as she’s become a confident, happy and healthy child. And as she changed, I changed too.
I learned real change means acceptance\’not tolerance\’and an acceptance that includes equal rights and freedoms for my daughter as I’d want for her friends. With time my wife would also begin to forgive me for the time when I denied the truth to try to protect my fragile dream. As I changed, I learned a lot from others too. People who were not on board with the needs of our transgender child taught me that changing people’s perception of “normal was essential, not just for my daughter’s safety, but for the safety of all children that are perceived as different.
As a dad who struggled early on in accepting my daughter, I would like to help other dads. If you attend any transgender meetings or conferences, you will see very few men. You will listen to mothers talk about the difficulties, lack of support and frustration with their husbands. Sometimes they will talk about the loss of a husband and father. Why do men struggle with this? Is it because of the way we are raised?
I’ve included some pretty long quotes from his story because I wanted to do him justice, but there’s much more here.
When I first came out at 19, I met gays and lesbians who were amazed because they hadn’t felt safe or had the opportunity to come out until they were in their late 20’s, 30’s or older. And I was amazed when teens and tweens started coming out because I couldn’t really imagine what that might have been like.
One of the things that is making a difference is that more parents are learning to change their attitudes and support their LGBT kids. And the more they speak out, the more they will model it for other parents. And that is amazing. So yes, the tweens, they are a-changing, and they’re pulling their parents along with them.