Tag Archives: gay

To be a better parent, see yourself as a child.

The most common question I’m asked after appearing as a guest speaker for parents dealing with gender non-conforming youth, is “what one piece of advice could I give to parents that would help them begin to accept their child.”

child

Each time I’m asked this question, it’s like I’m being asked which end of the bull I would like to do battle with. I stare blankly back at the ask-er, and all coherent thought eludes me.

The truth is, I find this question quite troublesome. What kind of parent doesn’t accept their child as-is? And unfortunately, that immediate thought blocks out all others. (I excel in self-distractibility.) The trouble with being forthright with honesty is that I tend to offend. I’m the kind of gal that others refer to as… prickly. Not everyone can handle the truth.  And while I am learning how to make-nice and think of people’s feelings before I speak my truth (I still don’t think that should be my problem, however, I don’t make up these rules of engagement) in the end, I babble some feel-good jibber-jabber to confuse and distract, and then quickly move on to the next question.  

But everywhere I go—there it is. Like a dead albatross that I must wear for my crime of automatic acceptance. I have spent many a car-ride home contemplating a better response to this question.  One that is true, but also considerate. A philosophical conundrum for the passionately honest folk like myself. <ahem.>

After serious soul-searching, the only answer I’ve decided I can (or should) give is that which is true for me. Given my bedside manner (there’s a reason I’m not a therapist or social worker) I need to choose my advice wisely. 

My one piece of advice is actually two-fold. Appreciate life, and remember to see yourself as a child.  Most people don’t appreciate life the way that they should. It usually takes monumental adversity to scare-up the kind of appreciation for each moment of the day that you have available to love—and be loved.  Epiphanies can’t be taught.  Each person must find it for themselves.  And it must be practiced daily.  This kind of appreciation helps settle you. It directs your battles. It reduces fear, anger and frustration. If you are struggling with acceptance of who your child is, I encourage you to have an epiphany.  There are worse evils in the world that can be delivered to your doorstep.

Also remember that you are but a child yourself. As adults, we have wrapped ourselves in the glory of our own families and have forgotten the once upon a time of our youth.  The way in which you love your own children is the way that you are loved.  Denying it or not feeling your parents love does not constitute or guarantee its absence.  I may have grown up and become an adult and a parent, but I did not leave my youth behind as I might have thought.  It has been here, in me and around me, the entire time. The absolute truth of what I know is that your life is not a linear succession of milestones, but a vast circumference of love and memories.  I did not leave home and embark on my own life—home came with me.  Always and undeniably, I am but a child of my parents. 

baby hand

I have been lucky enough to have had several life-changing epiphanies.  Perhaps I didn’t get it the first few times—but you can read the one that stuck here.  With this understanding, I see parenting through the eyes of the mother AND the child.  Children look to their parents for comfort, nurture, safety, and acceptance. And if you love your children… you will swim the ocean, you will climb the mountain and you will go toe-to-toe with the boogeyman.

My advice is, go put your big boots on.

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Filed under non-fiction, parenting, transgender

Love is ALL you need?

Imagine a world where “gay” was “straight” and “straight” was “gay”, how would we live if we couldn’t love each other?

This incredible award-winning short film by WingSpan Pictures offers to promote social change by challenging current conceptions in popular culture. By paralleling the persecution of others with different sexual orientations or gender identities, the hope is to inspire societal reflection.  While the theme may be fictional, the events are tragically real. Only understanding can stop the cycle of abuse.

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Filed under Awesome, transgender, world news

the mother of all things—acceptance

Last night I was lucky enough to be able to speak to a large group of students studying Social Sciences at McMaster University.  I’ve done many public speaking gigs before, so the size of the audience wasn’t intimidating, it was the nature of the lecture that I found paralyzing. I stood before them not as a business woman—but as a mother.

As with everything that is to be taught and learned in our lives, I behooved these students to be as objective as they could be, while listening to a subjective story-teller whose passion was animated enough to convince them the sky was green.  I was speaking from personal experience and the subject matter was the single most important thing in my life. My children; one of whom is a transgender girl.

I stood before them explaining that throughout time, nature has given us two kinds of mothers. There are those mothers who will stop at nothing to protect their young, or the young of others. And then there are those who will abandon or eat their own young.  I reduced this battle of altruistic versus egoistic behaviour to it’s simplest—without getting into a philosophical debate with regard to perspectives of the beneficiary—as the basis for my introduction.  Although, in person… I’m not quite as refined. I can never remember, is it always cuss in front of the students or never cuss in front of the students?

the mother

So what kind of mother am I?  I’m a T. Rex.  Top of the food chain, baby.

I explained that in no way was I faulting the mothers who abandon their young.  They are the opposite side of the maternal coin in a tricky balance of nature. In earlier periods, this behaviour was self-preservation from the world they lived in; where predators of all sizes loomed above them.  With mortal danger imminent, they would sacrifice their young to save themselves.  And, although the nature of those dangers have long since disappeared for us humans—the evolution of this continued fear of “being eaten alive” by predators has perpetuated the fight or flight mothering divide.  Abandon your young to save yourself.

Humans could not have survived in nature without the charity and reciprocity of a group or individual. For the young that have been kicked out of the nest, that’s where these students will come in. One day they will be part of the necessary support system that will show these individuals that altruistic behaviour does exist.  They will help these people understand that they are loved, accepted and necessary—regardless of the reasons they were abandoned by their mothers.  The mother’s choice to abandon is ALWAYS about the mother.

acceptance

Part of the adaptation into a happy and “normal” lifestyle for all those condemned as different will be based on how they are treated.  How we react to the needs of our youth—right here and now today—will set precedents for future generations.  Do NOT segregate people into boxes of conformity. Do NOT place labels of identification on our young that will later be used for discriminatory injustices against them—and Do NOT fix what isn’t broken. (Can I get a hells yeah?)

This is the opportunity to re-define “normal” and trip the natural balance to praise the uniqueness of ALL people, instead of pointing fingers at the differences. Let “normal” become the outcast.  Burst forth into your lives with passion and focus your educated eyes of therapy on those who need it—the mother who abandoned her young and the judgmental predators who stalk her.

abandon

Many thanks to Will Rowe of The Well, who invited me to speak to the students and also for all that he does in his work in social services and support of youth.  The force is strong my friend, the future is ours.

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Filed under non-fiction, parenting, transgender, world news