Life Lessons, Parenting, Politics, Raising a Trans Child, Ranting, Uncategorized

Listening Harder

Over the last few years, I’ve really tried to focus on learning about the realities of marginalized communities.

I’ve chosen my books wisely, follow people on social media with intent- people of color, black activists, authors, LGBTQ folks. I’m thirsty for knowledge on experiences that I haven’t lived, trying my best to learn how to make things better, using my privilege the best I know how.

I’ve listened harder.
I absorb more information everyday. I volunteer when I can, I donate what I can, I attend rallies when I’m able.

I try not to be one-issue focused, but of course I’m partial to advocating for trans rights because this is my son’s reality. This is his life.

It took our lived experiences to truly wake me up. (And I say “our” because my son is young and I’ve had to do a lot of advocating on his behalf.)

Of course I’ve known discrimination, racism, and bigotry have existed. But my privilege tended to always allow me to look at society through rose colored glasses. So much so that when then Black Lives Matter movement began, I was one of the ignorant white people who just didn’t get it.

I had to listen harder. I had to read stories and recounts, look at statistics, absorb. Quietly, without the “but not all white people” interjection.

I was called out on Twitter once by the amazing Bishop Swan for appropriating the BLM movement by saying women should “take a knee” in protest to Kavanaugh last year. It was a humbling experience.

I listened. I learned. I didn’t respond in defense, but with humility and willingness to do better.

I do my best to teach Dylan about real history, the history that schools refuse to teach. I do my best to not recreate the ignorance I lived in for so long.

No ally is perfect. I’m far from it. But if we are going to change society, it’s the allies that need to do the work.

As a public advocate, it can be even more tricky because I’m always concerned with stepping on toes or somehow powering over voices who matter more.

Ally-ship is a verb and it’s a constant evolution.

And what I’m receiving on this end of advocacy in response to many of my posts are messages such as “Protect ALL kids, not JUST trans kids”, or, “Oh, SO MANY kids are bullied. It’s just part of growing up”, or, “Medical care can’t be that difficult to find”, or, “You’re being dramatic”.

Similar to what folks in marginalized communities hear, and have for decades.

Here’s some wisdom to those sit in that camp, who make negating statements:

You’re not listening hard enough.
And you’re not an ally if you’re making these statements.

You’re dismissing every trial and tribulation of marginalized people.

When you tell me, “Protect ALL kids”, you’re not hearing me. You’re not listening to trans people. You’re not doing the work.

You’re not hearing that I had to sit through 3 hours of a school board meeting where I was called a child abuser, where my child was compared to a mass shooter, where my child was called a pedophile, where people spewed their hatred, all endured just so my child could have equal access to bathrooms, so his correct name and pronouns would be used in school.

You’re not hearing that we have to drive over an hour to find a doctor who is trained in caring for trans kids, and when I say trained, I mean willing to use his name and pronouns so they can treat my kid for a cold or a sinus infection or a sprained wrist.

You’re not hearing that every move I make as a parent, whether it’s traveling for the weekend, planning a move to another city, choosing a school for my child, etc., has to be decided and executed based on the fact that my child is trans.

You’re not hearing the stats on bullying, that approximately 90% of LGBTQ kids have been assaulted or harassed in school.

You’re not hearing that my child cannot serve in our United States military for no good reason at all.

You’re not hearing that homeless trans people are now forbidden to utilize pubic shelter, and that 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ.

You’re not hearing that most medical care for trans teens isn’t covered by insurance, even though it literally saves their lives.

You’re not hearing that the majority of states in our country do not have anti discrimination laws for LGBTQ people, so the likelihood of Dylan being fired or denied housing because he’s trans is real.

You’re not hearing that 51% of trans teen boys have attempted or thought about suicide…because society treats them like shit.

You’re not understanding that your cisgender (non trans) child, does not need protection from any of these things.

You’re not listening.

And just because society is talking more about equality and trans rights, “better” does not translate into “equal”. At all.
And “better” doesn’t translate into safety or acceptance, either.

There will always be work to do as an ally. There never space for complacency or sitting idle. And there’s certainly never space for dismissive statements such as “All Lives Matter” or “Protect ALL Kids”.

Are you really listening? Are you listening as hard as you can?

Listen until you’re uncomfortable. Until you’re pushed to rethink everything you every believed. Listen to the anger, to the impatience, to the rawness, to the the exhaustion of marginalized communities.

They don’t owe you patience or kindness or an explanation of their existence or validation of their experiences.

But as a fellow human being, they’re owed equality, equal access, and safety.

Stop negating. Those rose colored glasses are lying to you everyday. And you’re believing the lies…because you can.

Listen harder.

Protect Trans Kids. I didn’t stutter.

Politics, Raising a Trans Child, Ranting, Uncategorized

In This Climate of Attempted Erasure: Parenting a Trans Child

I’ve had such a difficult time finding my words within this past week. But I need to do some processing here.

Last Monday, I woke up to the news of the Trump administration’s attempt to erase trans people out of existence. 

Like many parents of trans kids, I felt as though I was living in an alternate universe when the news went viral. This couldn’t possibly be real. This couldn’t possibly be something that could materialize. These are our kids, our flesh and blood, that we are already fighting like hell to be seen and acknowledged and affirmed.

This made it heavier.

I’ve sat through the past 18 months with my mouth agape, unable to truly accept what this administration has managed to rollback not only for the trans community but across the political, lawful board. Nothing ceases to amaze me these days.

Yet, I had to work pretty hard to wrap my mind around the reality that yes, this might certainly happen. That my child’s whole life might have just become a hell of a lot more challenging.

As if the trans community needed this on their shoulders. As if their life isn’t already a warrior march.

This redefining of gender, as they aim to do which would be based on genitalia only, would limit my son’s entire life, no exaggeration. It would require him to live his life as female, as assigned at birth, completely undermining the scientific advancements, the medical bodies affirming this community, the insurmountable research that’s been collected in support of this community, and then most obvious – that trans people simply know who they are.

Several policy rollbacks for the trans community had already been implemented since Trump has been president.  But this move is bold. And it’s inhumane. And its void of any compassion, to say the least.

And its frightening.

There are an estimated 2 million transgender Americans. And they are being told they aren’t real, that their lived experiences aren’t viable.

And here I sit looking at my child, talking with him, living with him, raising him to the best of my ability, seeing him through so many challenges already…he couldn’t be any more real, tangible, worthy, and valid.

Yet, here we are. It’s surreal.
I’m not sure what happened to empathetic, rational beings. Do they even exist in this climate?

And in the same week that this federal news floated down, our local school board did something amazing and finally set forth guidelines to support our trans kiddos. A battle that been fought for well over a year in our district.

This was a big win.

The backlash has been overwhelming. An entire community of parents are largely digging their heels in, protesting and fighting to rescind the new guidelines. Because BATHROOMS. And because of the constant irrational, illogical vilification of trans people.

And because I’m a public advocate (that’s me in that news link above), I’ve fielded an unfathomable amount of hate.

I’ve been told by local people that:
My child is mentally ill.
My child would be better off if I were dead.
Trans kids should be completely segregated.
“Normal kids” shouldn’t be around or exposed to my child.

Amongst other vile things.

The response has been far more terrible than that of anything community advocates have ever seen. Citizens are more concerned about this than issues that are far more problematic such as school shootings, forced testing, budget woes, or anything else related to our public schools. Even though our trans kids do not pose any threat whatsoever, that they are the ones at risk. And that’s based on facts that are being widely ignored.

Yet, here we are. It’s surreal.

It’s exhausting. It’s defeating. It’s lonely. It’s scary. It’s isolating.
And that fight-or-flight response in the depths of my being is palpable.

I’ve considered Canada. I’ve considered Costa Rica. Both countries protect and affirm my child far more than this “Land of the Free”.

But then I take a breath and I look around.
I look at so many amazing trans friends that we’ve made. I look at all of these beautiful lives. These beautiful faces. These souls that simply cannot be erased. These souls that need our advocacy, need our activism, need our voices, need allies standing next to them on the front lines.

Parenting a transgender child in this climate of attempted erasure feels like we are on the brink of an all out mutiny. It feels like the dog whistle for social justice warriors, for additional allies, is loud and permeable, leaking into the universe for the most giant call to action.

It feels like equality is never found riding in the center of neutrality.
And we must march far off course to rally and assert the need for justice.

It feels like resistance rising.

This is my child. This is my whole world whose life is being threatened.
This feels like the fight of my life.

And I will remain in this fight not only for my son, but for those who have lost their lives to suicide because they weren’t accepted, for those who struggle everyday to been heard, to be seen, for those who are in the closet, for those living loud, for those who can’t fight, for those who are afraid, for those with no other support, and for those who aren’t even born yet.

This administration has completely underestimated the resilience of this entire community.

Erasure is quite literally impossible.


Being Raised With Privilege. It’s Getting Obscene.


The Stanford Rapist.

I’m not done talking about this. I can’t not talk about this. So many emotions with this story. So many disjointed thoughts that I’m going to attempt to pull together.

I don’t need to rehash specifics. It’s been well publicized. A monster that raped an unconscious woman, with witnesses, was sentenced to only six months in jail. Six months. Six fucking months. I’m outraged and I’m not the only one but this is still the “justice” he was served. Because the judge said a larger sentence would have a “severe impact on him” and he “isn’t a danger to others”.

Not a danger to others, your “honor”? This woman he brutally raped and assaulted will live the remainder of her life with terror, no doubt. PTSD, stress, anxiety, most likely depression, will all be a part of her life because of his “20 minutes of action”, as his dad so eloquently described the brutal attack in a letter to the judge in his son’s defense. And a female friend of the rapists’, who also wrote a letter in his defense, decided to victim blame and say that he’s not to blame, drinking is to blame. As in, the victim’s decision to drink, as opposed to the rapists’ decision to rape. He doesn’t have to own that decision to rape. He holds little responsibility for his vulgar and disgusting actions. The justice system isn’t holding him accountable. As a matter of a fact, his mug shot even remained private until he had a nice suit and tie on, because, you know, privilege. Why wouldn’t he do this again? This was such an easy crime for him. And yes, I will even pull the “race card” here. If this Stanford Rapist was black, I’m going to go out on a limb and say his sentence would have substantial.

This situation is precisely why women don’t report rape or pursue justice when it comes to sexual assault: because justice doesn’t truly exist in this realm. Women are rarely ever perceived as honest when it comes to rape. Rapes that don’t have witnesses can hardly be prosecuted and even those that have witnesses, clearly, don’t hold weight. I could elaborate to no end on this end of the discussion…

But I also have to talk about this and how it relates to how we are raising our children.

I started writing a post last week about raising children in this day and age of privilege and this trending {disgusting} topic just gave me a much better platform to drive my point. I was in the midst of typing away about how I struggle with subscribing to modern day parenting, how everything today is forced into this “keeping up with the Joneses’ {or Kardashians}” mentality, how it’s truly harming our children. Easy is a way of life for so many kids, mine included, giving them this need for instant gratification, having no consequences for bad behavior, this owning no responsibility way of thinking. And then this piece of shit rapist comes along and basically becomes the poster child for privilege and all that is wrong with our society.

Privilege, specifically white privilege, is alive and well. And growing into a huge epidemic.

Humans are actually defending a convicted rapist and whether we, as a whole, want to admit this or not, our society is subscribing to this line of thinking We want everything to be easy. Easy for us as adults, easy for our children. Everything. Smart phones are an addiction of everyone I know, college degrees can be bought online with very little effort, very few know what it means to “pay dues”. Things are designed to be just so easy and accessible, especially to those with the money to buy the easy.

And, to touch on celebrating mediocrity. Although so many feel that it’s so innocent to give every child a medal at a flag football game or take away National Honor Society badges on high school graduation gowns because it will hurt others’ feelings if we didn’t do these things, it’s dangerous. We are teaching our kids that the can do the minimum for maximum results. Period. It’s not the right thing to do.

True story: I witnessed one of my seven year old daughter’s flag football teammates pushing others on the field, on his own team, bullying in it’s rarest form, and he got a medal at the end of the game, that specific game,…because it was his turn to receive a medal. Because everyone receives a medal. Why does everyone receive a medal these days?

What happened to responsibility? What happened to accountability? What happened to achievement? How is all of this easiness helping our kids and future generations? Where do we draw the line in the sand and say, “No, Brock Turner. You fucked up and you’re going to pay the consequence, no matter what your race or family financial status is”?

With all of this, the water is getting muddy and privilege is emerging like never before. I know I am drawing together some extremes here. I realize that not every privileged child will grow up to be a Stanford Rapist. But my fear is that we are raising more dangerous humans than not.

And I am right here in the thick of it all, raising my own privileged child, but trying like hell to teach her right from wrong with all of the confusing messages society is giving her. I can only hope that she will see true justice in her lifetime for heinous crimes such as rape. The outlook on that is quite bleak, though, and seems to be heading in the opposite direction. I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle, as I’m sure many others do, too.

Let’s rally to start raising responsible children to become responsible adults who own their actions. Let’s leave privilege to those who work for it and not to the Brock Turner’s of the world.