Dear precious child,
We see you. And we love you.
We understand how hard you have to fight to be supported. We know our country doesn’t make it easy for you to exist with a name, pronouns and gender identity that are different from what was assigned to you at birth.
We worry if it’s hard for you to be who you really are at school. Do they make you use a separate-but-not-equal bathroom? We worry about the sports you want to play. Does your coach let you join the team that matches your gender identity, or do you choose not to play sports because you’re afraid of being outed or bullied? You deserve better than that.
We worry if your church is making it hard for you, too. Do you have a minister who has forgotten that Jesus loves all children? You are just as miraculous today as you were on the day of your birth. We hope your congregation stands up for you and for other gender-expansive people. And if they don’t, we hope you’ll find a church that will. There are several in Denton, including the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and Trinity Presbyterian.
We hope you didn’t read the religion column that the Denton Record-Chronicle published last week, where a minister forgot the calling of love. He thinks using your pronouns is “too PC,” so he’s not going to try. Like bullies often do, he tries to pass off his cruelty as humor. We hope the adults in your life don’t laugh alongside him because you are not something to be made fun of.
We worry if you are one of the 41 percent of transgender youth who have attempted suicide because you are feeling unsupported and unloved by the people around you. We worry about that a lot, actually, and we hope you know how much we love you. You are too wonderful to be lost forever.
We wonder if the messages you’re hearing in the news — bathroom bills, transgender military bans, memos about erasing transgender identities — make you worry about your future. We sure hope not because there is so much good news too, so much positive change, and so many supportive people out there. Sometimes it is just hard for those people to express their love.
You see, we’re the parents of a transgender child. And while we’ve always loved him, we didn’t always know the best way to show that. When our child was telling us he was a boy, and not a girl like we thought, we didn’t know what to do. We struggled for many years wanting him to know that we’d love him no matter what, but also fearing what society would do to him if we gave him the space to transition. What we realized, though, is that dozens of professional and medical organizations have stated definitively that supporting transgender and nonbinary youth like you actually has the potential to save your life, and that when you are affirmed in your name, pronouns and the way you dress, you’re just as well off as your cisgender (that is, not transgender) peers.
With this information, we knew that it wasn’t our child who needed to change — it was us. It wasn’t an overnight process, and we wonder if your parents are struggling with this too.
We have so much hope for your future. We hope your school district adopts a policy that helps you feel safe and supported when you transition. We hope your elected officials spend more time focusing on funding your school and less time on the bathrooms inside them. We hope the adults in your life choose candidates who stand up for equality, knowing that your future is in their hands. We hope your city council will pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance so that when you apply for your first job or apartment, you’re not turned away at the door just for being you. We hope the news media elevate the conversation and lift you up instead of giving people a platform to tear you down. We hope your parents and grandparents and your friends and teachers read this letter and share it with you if they’re having a hard time finding the words to say “I love you.”
We are hopeful for a world where you can live your truth out loud without the struggle and worry. That day is coming, we can feel it.
With all our love,
Amber and Adam
This essay was originally published in the Denton Record-Chronicle