I’ve noticed that Caitlyn Jenner has dropped almost completely off of my social media feeds. One of those reasons might be due to the fact that I blocked 80 “friends” on Facebook last week. Or maybe just like all hot topics of the moment, she’s no longer the most interesting person trending right now.
Regardless of the “why”, I’m glad that she was filling my feed for awhile. Let me clarify- so many of the articles, comments, jokes, memes, whatever were positive but there were those not so nice ones as well and it was those that I paid close attention to, more accurately who was posting them. I read about many parents in my online groups experiencing the same thing and how we were all handling it. Some were very clear and concise- one negative word and with the click of a button, that person was deleted. Others sat quietly watching the feeds and doing their best to ignore them. For their own reasons, it was best for them to let those bad things slide by unacknowledged. And then there were the warriors who pulled out their swords, donned their always handy armor and battles ensued, words were slung and at the end of the day, those parents were victorious or at the very least down a few friends/family.
I think that all of us parents/loved ones of a transgender person had a collective “oh crap” moment upon hearing about Jenner. We knew this was gonna get ugly- people being people and all. We knew that if we were on social media, we would have to do something.
You might be wondering which stance I took. As is my nature, I sat back and observed before doing or not doing anything. I let a few slide, finding them to be silly and not worth wasting my time. I thought I was going to take the “don’t give them the satisfaction of reacting” when two people posted. The first one I let slide because I was so shocked by the second.
It was a meme about why Jenner does not deserve the Arthur Ashe Award. (Between you and me, I have yet to meet a person who actually know what the award is or how it is awarded!! I had to look it up.) My problem was not with the person’s opinion on whether or not Caitlyn Jenner deserved the award. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I didn’t really care that much about the topic. What bothered me was the article attached to it. The article objected to Caitlyn receiving the award, not due to a lack of qualifications but because she was not a woman; that she was pretending and playing dress up. (Mind you, the article obviously did not use proper pronouns or even the right name, if I’m remembering correctly.)
Kris is also Facebook friends with this family member- let’s call her Nicole- and when he saw the post, he commented. “Wow” to it. It was at that point that I knew I needed to do something. Nicole is someone I’ve considered to be supportive of Kris. Her kids are supportive of Kris. I did not expect this from her. I suspected it was a case of her posting without reading.
I created a post for my Facebook wall- It was something along the lines of- “My feelings on this topic are non-negotiable. LOVE is unconditional. REAL family and friends are there no matter how hard it gets. I pretty much know who will like or comment and who will scroll past it, say they didn’t see it or tell me PRIVATELY that they didn’t think it applied to them because of course I knew they support Kris…” along with a link to an article about how to talk about the transgender thing…. and so on.
Well, if you read my post It’s a Sign, this is part of the “alleged” slander at its finest.
One of the people to like the post was Nicole, the person who shared the offensive article. At the same time, Kris received a private message from her stating that of course, Kris knew that this had nothing to do with him and that she loves him very much and always has. Hmph.
Kris wrote a carefully (and respectfully) worded response explaining why that article was offensive. Nicole’s response was that she didn’t mean to offend him, that she had loved him since the day he was born and always would.
I know that Nicole loves Kris. I don’t doubt it. Kris doesn’t doubt it.
But then I got a text from Nicole asking me to call her. (Don’t you love when people do that?) We played phone tag and I could have just done nothing and let her make another move but I was doing this for Kris so I tried to reach Nicole again and we finally did talk.
She wanted to know if I knew what was going on, which I assured her I did. She said that Kris had not responded to her last message and she felt like he was being rude. She also wanted to make sure that she and I are okay.
And finally nearly 900 words later, I’ve come to my point. I explained to Nicole what the real issue was.
It was NOT questioning Nicole’s love, support and acceptance for Kris. We know that she does. What we also know is that Nicole would love Kris NO MATTER WHAT- boy, girl, elephant, race car… whatever- Nicole will love Kris- because he’s Kris.
By posting that article, Kris had to wonder- Did Nicole think he was not a real guy? Did she think he was just playing dress up? Pretending? And for me, maybe even more than my next point, this is the sticking point. Why do you think so many transgender kids are at risk for suicide? For starters, loving and accepting Kris because he’s Kris is okay but at some point (and for me it better come pretty darn fast) you need to ACCEPT Kris as who he is not BECAUSE of who he was.
And then we can move onto the even bigger issue- that being accepting of ALL trans people. Not just the one you held as a baby.
I explained all of this to Nicole. I addressed Kris not answering her- said I would mention it to him because it’s what you do. (And I did- although to be honest I relayed my entire conversation with Nicole to him and ended with- Respond to her. Say whatever you want, even if it’s just ‘my mom said she talked to you.’)
This incident made me think on a larger scale. It made me think of all the incredible people I’ve met here- transgender people, loved ones of transgender people, lots of other cool people. It drove home the importance of being an ally. There’s so much more than just supporting your loved one. If the people in your loved one’s life support him only because he’s someone they knew, you need to educate them on the importance of SEEING, ACCEPTING and SUPPORTING him. Or her. And then it needs to grow beyond that. The more people that understand that transgender people need to be seen, accepted and supported, the closer we are to living in a world where all transgender people can BE and the biggest hurdles they will face in life will be the same ones we do. They won’t have to FIGHT just to BE.
And maybe I’m not your typical warrior. I’m not out blazing trails and taking out the bad guys with a swoop of my sword, but I will step up each and every time I see the need and I won’t stop fighting.