Posted on November 03 2019
My overriding objective in this rebuttal of sorts is to dispel the myth, and quash the accusation, that a parent who is transgender (including those transitioning such as me) impair upon their child’s wellbeing, simply by way of gender identity. In other words, that we detrimentally impact our kids overall development. Which is pure BS. Yes, obviously I have a bias. Nevertheless, I still think I’m well positioned to elucidate, or at least rant, on what is arguably mere sensationalism.
You may have heard of the award-winning series, "Transparent". The hit TV show, inspired by the experiences of creator Jill Soloway and her father's transition. Whilst the program is fictitious, it’s subject matter/themes depict real life. So perhaps worthwhile commencing by gauging audience reactions to it. ‘Brian’ writing, “Poor Transgender dad has spoiled crazy kids. Everything wrong with America…”. ‘LMV’ commenting, “It can be uncomfortable at times, but does motivate you to open your mind and become more understanding and informed. These people exist”. ‘DQW’ remarking, "Jeffrey Tambor looks ridiculous in the clothes and make up…like Herman Munster in drag”. With ‘Lori’ contributing, “If you can't write a show to portray what transgenders go through without the gratuitous sex and making everybody look like an absolute freak, you are doing a disservice to the cause and you may want to rethink your writers”.
Considering these critiques, perhaps excluding Brian’s, there seems a recurring narrative - trans parents ultimately do deserve respect. But looking closer, these perspectives are also infused with objectification; that whilst trans parents ‘belong’, we should be kept at arms distance. Obviously it’s difficult for most to entirely empathise with Jeffrey’s character of “Maura Pfefferman” - given they have no first-hand experience with gender dysphoria. Then again, a sweeping generalisation to assume nobody ‘gets us’, let alone consider this small fraction of commentary as typical audience reaction. Furthermore, this aforementioned ‘objectification’ fluctuates - even between these comments. Point being, quite simply, some are better at understanding others - no matter how different they seem. Whilst some surreptitiously leverage political correctness – for instance, ‘concern for the children’.
Moreover, some are entirely inept at conjuring any measure of empathy for those who are at least outwardly different. Yes, there’s those whose insularity precludes them from even fathoming that ‘different isn’t necessarily wrong’ - from my observation, tending to be those raised in monocultural environments. But even more significant, is the ultraconservative segments and fringes of society that seem to be encroaching upon general populations. Whether in the form of political rhetoric, propaganda, hate speech, the transgender community is literally under attack from these assemblages. And it’s not only churches throwing their weight around, but a growing number of right wing lobbyists who are out to save kids from us. And whilst it used to be a mere intimidation, or a punch to the head, it’s now more insidious – ie. using kids as political pawns. For example, Binary Australia’s attempts, bolstered by the Honourable Mark Latham, to distribute anti-LGBT information packs to schools – which, when considered alongside Binary Australia’s stated objective, ultimately insinuates youngsters are vulnerable when exposed to us adult transgender folk, as if we’re a plague.
Then there’s institutions, seemingly more centrist, seemingly more compassionate, who successfully harness even greater clout. For instance, Help 4 Families, directed by Denise Shick, author of “My Daddy’s Secret,” “When Daddy Leaves to be a Girl”, “When Hope Seems Lost,” and “Understanding Gender Confusion: A Faith Based Perspective”, whose sole purpose is to doom homosexual and transgender parents. And perhaps thereby justify their use of ‘conversion therapy’. Not to mention, explicit discrimination. Help 4 Families, not only intent on eradicating LGBT+ parents (it sounds ridiculous cos it is), but propagating we’re mentally ill. Or at least, morally deprived. Which is in turn derived from an underlying assumption that different is bad; dare I say, akin to racism. So let’s be frank, these loudmouths are nothing but. I mean, if I know one truth it’s this: kids don’t give a shit about the form of love they receive. Nor care about the appearance or behaviour of those who keep them safe, feed them, cleans up after them, ushers them to the toilet when they sleepwalk into the living room at 1am.
Considering established empirical research, consensus has it that what children need most? Our attention. Whether that attention translates into shared activities/traditions, dialogue, simply listening, our attentiveness is what fundamentally differentiates. Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and psychology instructor, advising five key components for successful parenting: validating kids' feelings, permitting a level of discomfort, mutual problem solving, nurturing kids emotional intelligence, and allowing them to stumble along the way - none of which mentions gender identity.
Written by Chris Carvill. Transitioning since 2016, Chris has become increasingly aware of the daily struggles, and unspoken injustices facing the trans community. As a writer, he's penned a book on meditation, composed several feature screenplays, and interviews music artists and comics for Weekend Notes. A primary school teacher by trade, Chris currently works for (Rainbow Tick Accredited) Peninsula Health.
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