Please note- This is the post formerly known as “Support”
noun: support; plural noun: supports
- 1.a thing that bears the weight of something or keeps it upright.
For some parents of transgender kids, finding out is like getting the rug yanked out from under you- literally. I know you’re thinking- but the rug was not literally pulled out. Well, I’m here to tell you that the feelin is pretty darn close. I remember losing my footing, stumbling, almost falling, my heart racing after that moment when I’m sure it had momentarily stopped. And I remember treading carefully after that. Afraid to take a step for fear that I would find nothing secure under my feet. It seemed that almost every relationship I had in my life was altered after that. Some disappeared of their own accord. Others stuck around.
The response we received upon telling our news varied from person to person. And the response was only the first part. Part two was what happened next. Sometimes it took a person time to sort out how they felt. People that appeared to be supportive and okay with all of it, sometimes weren’t. People that seemed to be wary at first came back to be great allies. We never knew what to expect.
I found that people generally fall into one of three groups upon hearing about our transgender child. There is no correlation between their relationship with me or Kris and their response. This was very surprising to me. Then I realized that it is not about Kris at all. It is about them. It is their issue to deal with, not ours.
Group 1- These folks cannot deal with the news. They shut down, retreat, head for the hills. They are outta here! They don’t understand. They don’t want to understand either out of fear of the unknown or ignorance. Or they fully understand and do not approve. And I have found the last subgroup to be the hardest to deal with because they are in denial about their disapproval. They try very hard to present themselves as being supportive while not being supportive in the least. If they talk to me, they are uneasy- hoping I don’t bring up Kris, hoping I don’t notice their awkward behavior. They are always relieved when the conversation is over and they never seek out me or Kris to talk. Any dialogue is forced, superficial, nothing. In some cases, I’m not surprised by members of this group. But then, I’m really sad at some people who have fallen into this category. I hope that someday they will be back.
Group 2- This is the largest group. People who fall into this group usually don’t quite grasp the idea of being transgender or maybe it makes them uneasy but they have stayed pretty consistent in most cases. Like the first group, there are some who prefer not to talk about or to Kris, but unlike that first group, these people still talk to us. They do their best to carry on as usual but depending on the person, Kris doesn’t exist anymore. Some struggle and make an attempt to ask about Kris or say hi to him if he’s there. I appreciate the effort. They are trying. A large number of them try to offer some form of support or at least don’t give us any grief.
And then there’s THE group- Group 3-. They are the most important group and the reason I left them for last is because for me there are 3 in this group. 🙂 They are the reason I’m able to get through those hard days. I wouldn’t have made it through the last 3 years without them. They support in a way that no one else can. They have been there every step of the way. I didn’t ask them. They were just there. I don’t think it occurred to them to not be there. I was falling and they caught me, held me up and didn’t let go.
Every experience is different. There is no cookie cutter parent of a transgender child model that everyone follows. There are families who are incredible and supportive and don’t miss a step upon hearing the news that their niece, girl cousin, granddaughter is now a nephew, boy cousin, or grandson. Some people are surrounded by loving friends and families.
I suspect that what my family and I have experienced is more true to real life. The world has come a long way in terms of acceptance of transgender people but for as far as it has come, there is still a long way to go. The bottom line is that people fear what they do not understand. It’s how they deal with that fear or ignorance that makes the difference.
Originally I was going to write one post about my 3 great friends- but as I think about each of them, they deserve their own. They know that I’m going to write about them and they have no choice. 🙂
Now, I’m sorry to end this post abruptly but I just heard my son and daughter-in-law get back from the doctor and I believe I’m about to find out what sex my grandchild is- not that it matters because as we know- you get what you get- and sometimes it’s not what you think. 😉