I’m the proud mother of an amazing transgender daughter. Since she came out, I’ve had many adults come up to me and say wildly inaccurate and insulting things about her chosen gender identity. In light of the current political situation in the United States, in which the entire trans community is in danger of having their identities erased, I wanted to correct some common and dangerous misconceptions.
“It’s your fault your kids are transgender.”
There’s this dangerous misconception that parents somehow make their kids trans. It’s an odd thought to me because my daughter barely listens when I try to make her do chores. How can I make her someone she isn’t? To the contrary, my daughter has always been quite aware of who she was. I did nothing to bring that about—she is, and has always been, a trans girl.
“People should be defined by their genitals! It’s biology!”
People love to think in binary. If a child has a penis, they’re a boy. If a child has a vagina, they’re a girl. They insist this is just biology. The problem with that way of thinking is that one in every 1,500 babies is born intersex, science has shown that gender is a spectrum and is more mental than physical, and the idea that someone’s genitals define them is ridiculous. Anyway, why on earth are grown adults so obsessed with children’s genitals? A little creepy, isn’t it? Maybe we should focus on that instead of spreading inaccurate versions of science.
“What about your other (cis) children? What will you tell them?”
Believe it or not, children tend to be much more accepting than most adults. My two other kids are cisgender and when I told them about my daughter’s identity, they asked a couple of curious questions and moved on. My cis kids call my trans kid by her chosen name and preferred pronouns without batting an eye. They never had any trouble accepting her for who she is. Their world hasn’t been shattered. If anything, they’ve learned more about acceptance and respect—lessons we should all be teaching our children.
“Your kid is too young to know for sure; it’s just a phase.”
I won’t lie, I fell into this trap too. When my daughter was younger, she was always more interested in clothing and toys marketed towards girls. I told myself she couldn’t possibly know for sure what her gender identity was at that age. But the truth is, she obviously did know. Kids know—they always know. It’s when they’re repeatedly told that they cannot be who they are that they start to question it.
“I don’t understand this whole ‘trans’ thing.”
Here’s the problem with this seemingly innocent phrase. It often means that someone doesn’t understand the trans community and therefore doesn’t have to. It’s another way of saying, “This is my excuse for not interacting with your child.” Of course, if you say this to me and mean well, I’ll be happy to educate you about the trans community, or even ask my daughter to chime in! But remember, she’s my daughter—interact with her as you would any daughter of another parent.
“You’re mutilating your child’s body and filling them with hormones!”
The medical procedures that take place are private and not the same for every trans individual. At this current phase, my daughter’s doctor has discussed the possibility of talk therapy and puberty blockers, and we’ve yet to actually begin any of these because they have to be done carefully and in a healthy and safe manner. As for hormone therapy and gender confirmation surgery, those are mere possibilities at the moment. We’ll likely discuss and think of them when my daughter is a young adult, but every transition is unique and different. Not every trans person goes through these procedures, and when they do, it’s safe and done or supervised by medical professionals.
“Are you sure they aren’t just gay?”
Gender identity and sexual orientation aren’t the same thing. You can be a woman and love women, men, or both. You can be a man and love women, men, or both. It’s really not that complex! Trans women are women, and trans men are men,” so they can be straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual… the list goes on and on. Being trans doesn’t stop someone from loving who they love naturally. Gender identity does not determine sexual orientation!
“Your child is going to hell.”
I’ve had adults shove the Bible in my face and preach about how my daughter is sinning and she will be going to hell. Guess what? The Bible says loads of things. It says you can’t eat pork or seafood. It says you can’t mix fabrics. It says women who are raped in a city and do not scream loud enough to be saved should be stoned to death. Are you going to follow those rules too? If you can accept that parts of religious texts have to be discarded and ignored as the times progress, why can’t you apply that to the trans community? God is loving and cares for all His children. Anyway, it is no human being’s place to judge others on His behalf.
“Being transgender is a mental illness.”
To imply that someone’s gender identity is an illness is wrong. It’s dismissive of an entire community of people and it’s extremely oppressive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with mental illnesses, and I have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder myself, but being trans isn’t one of these illnesses. If you’re referring to gender dysphoria, then yes, that remains classed as a mental illness. But do you know what the current agreed-upon treatment model is? To guide those with gender dysphoria into transitioning to their preferred gender.
“Stop forcing your liberal agenda on everyone else.”
I’ve never really understood what this means, but I’ll bite. I’m being liberal because I want my daughter to be who she is. But shouldn’t all parents want that for their children? If a “liberal agenda” is accepting and respecting others while providing equality for all, then sign me right on up. If a “liberal agenda” is fighting for the happiness and health of my daughter, who wouldn’t have one?
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