It’s Good To Be A Kid
I’ve been doing some personal reflection today. About two weeks ago I found out a member of my family was pregnant and as I took in this shocking revelation I found myself thinking about a story I was told late last year and what it is like looking through the eyes of a child.
I was at a conference and during a break-out session the facilitator of the group told a story. She talked about her daughter. Off the top of my head I cannot remember her name, maybe it will come to me after some more reflection, so we’ll call her Cindy. Now, Cindy didn’t always express herself as a little girl. She was born biologically male, but at a very early age she and her family realized that she was not supposed to be a boy. I don’t have any experience with children who are transitioning but a family who may not have any experience AT ALL with any member of the community whether G, L, B or T and their child identifies as transgender must have been on quite the learning curve.
This loving mother spoke at length about Cindy and how well she is doing now that she has begun transitioning. But, the part of the story that stuck with me was when she spoke about her daughter’s early elementary school experience.
Cindy was enrolled at a Catholic school. To the best of my knowledge she was in 2nd grade. When she finished out that school year she and her family decided that it was in her best interest to return to school the following year expressing her true gender identity.
Audience participation time: Imagine yourself as a kid. I can remember how I used to be. Rambunctious, mischievous…practically a little terror. Full of energy, imagination, and creativity. I could make a game out of anything. One minute I was Indiana Jones, and the next I was in Star Wars (the re-release came out in 1997 so I’m not that old). The point is even though I identified as a male I was constantly doing everything I could to express that identity. Imagine trying to suppress that. Imagine trying to stifle that. Imagine if I had only been allowed to play with “boys” toys inside the house so no one could see. Imagine if I was only allowed to wear “boys” clothes at home, and it was a treat when I got home from school because I could be who I really was. Imagine trying to hide all that you are as a person at that young and very active age.
So, when Cindy and her family chose to go public with her true gender identity, it caused a stir with the school administration. I really don’t understand why people are homophobic or transphobic. I mean, a kid is a kid is a kid, right? Kids are not THAT scary. Diapers…yes, but kids? I’ll get off my soapbox by saying I’m not proposing that religious schools be made to go against their beliefs (even if they are discriminatory), but don’t tell me that when you look at an 8 year old who you’ve known most of their life and the only thing different about the child that you see are the clothes they’re wearing and that somehow makes them evil. Give me a break. In the end she did have to change schools, but she was able to openly express who she was.
Recall I said it was the administration that had a problem. When adults debate what it is to be GLBT, whether pro- or anti-, they come to the conversation with an idea in their mind that kids don’t know about.
And on a side note, don’t even get me started on why it is that we have to debate my rights to anything, whether it’s marriage, adoption, social security, whatever…since when did straight couples have to prove to somebody, then wait for a vote on their right to get married? Like I said, don’t get me started.
Adults come to the conversation with sex on the brain. Especially anti-gay people and homophobes. I’m arachnophobic…I can honestly say I do not sit around and think about spiders. [shudder] For people who hate gays, homophobes sure do love to think and talk about sex and gay people having sex…it’s true…look it up (Tony Perkins, Scott Lively, Pat Robertson, etc). Kids are not loaded down with that baggage. They don’t think about one another in terms of who has slept with whom. Only adults do that.
So, when Cindy introduced herself to her girl friends and said, “I’m Tommy and I’m dressed like a boy, but when I’m at home I’m a girl like you,” they didn’t question it. They embraced her as a person. And, when she had to leave that school and those friends she left would come visit, their parents all had the same remarks. They would say, “Now I understand what little Susie was talking about. She told me that Cindy had to be a boy at school but when she got home she could be a girl.” It makes sense to kids that age because they don’t bring YOUR baggage into THEIR lives.
Preconceived notions can be harmful. Imagine yourself like the kid you were.