MY KIDS NEED YOUR KIDS TO KNOW ABOUT THE QUEERS…HERE’S WHY
My name is Nick. I’m that big scary transgender person you’ve been told to fear.
I know people do indeed find me scary — because of the number of times I have had security called to remove me from a bathroom, and the birthday parties my kids don’t get invited to, and how the American government believes I’m a threat to their armed forces (even though an esitmated 15K + Transgender individuals are currently serving in the US), or even the fact that 17 Transwomen were murdered in America last year alone.
My wife Katherine is one of those crazy pansexuals who can’t make up her mind.
Together we have these 5 amazing, smart, hilarious, kind, delicate children.
And if you met me, I bet you wouldn’t think I was scary at all.
I’m just like every other Dad, telling bad jokes, going a little bit bald, worried about the decline of my once present, now fading 6 pack, my retirement savings and wondering if there’s a chance my wife might have relations with me tonight if I play my cards right.
The truth is, we are more alike than we are different.
I transitioned at the age of 31. Telling our babies about my transition from female to male is quite possibly the most terrifying thing I will ever do in this life of mine. I spent many sleepless nights thinking of all the ways my choice to live true to myself could break their hearts, make their lives insufferable , and probably lead to a life of doom and gloom. They would obviously have no choice but to drop out of elementary school and pick up the bottle, because I’M NOT DRAMATIC AT ALL. Next thing I know they’ll be voting republican.
It was impossible, I finally decided. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I would put my head in the sand instead, and just live as a woman forever to save them from myself. Yep.
And after about 7 terrible hours of that not working, I booked so many extra sessions with my therapist.
The thing is, I’m transgender. Living as a woman was excruciating and it was a lie. I wanted my kids to know me for who I truly am, not some imitation of someone else.
So we bought every children’s book addressing gender and queerness we could get our hands on, and we made a plan. We wrote a script. We planned a make-your-own-pizza family night where we would all gather around the kitchen island and use our hands to create our own pizzas while my love used the words I couldn’t . She explained, “ Here’s the thing, guys. Mom has never really felt like a girl…”
They listened, they sprinkled cheese, they placed little medallions of pepperoni on their hunks of dough with all their hearts. And then one of them said, “I have a question… why’d you wait so long?” and then the next kid asked, “But will you grow a long beard you can stroke when you’re thinking about something?” and then the next asked, “But can I eat this pepperoni?” and that was it.
I went into the conversation as their Mom, and I left as their Papa, their Father (usually said in a Darth Vader voice), and quickly I just became their Dad.
I had spent months panicking about this exact conversation. And then it was over, just like that.
The truth is that kids, they don’t have stories in their heads about the big scary trans person. Those stories are taught to them.
And kids are constantly absorbing the information around them. They are watching the way those around them move through the world, taking their hints.
The stories we tell our kids have a lot of power.
Which is why I’m writing now, to ask you to talk to your kids about people like me and my family. Because we really aren’t scary at all.
Your family might not know someone like me.
Actually you probably do, you just don’t know it. Many of us float under the radar, living stealth, or never actually transitioning. People of trans experience (who are out and openly identify as such ) only make up about 1% of the population here in North America.
But at some point in your lives, your children will come across someone like me . And if you haven’t talked to them about people like me, and about LGBTQ folks in general , then the only stories they will have, the only information they will know , is the subliminal (and not so subliminal) messaging that the world gives them about us. That we are weird, that there’s something wrong with us, that we’re a disadvantaged group of people, that we are lying or trying to trick people, that we are pretending to be girls or boys so we can get into bathrooms and be all-around creepy people.
If you don’t step in and tell your kids differently, then the world will educate them on what is normal and what is weird. The world will teach them to fear me.
The world will tell them that my family is not normal — that it’s less than somehow.
(And let’s not forget, it’s totally possible that your kids are queer too, and the world will try to teach them that they are somehow less than. You don’t wanna do that. Hint, it goes terribly.)
I’m tough though, I can handle the world not thinking I’m quite right, that I have a design flaw . But my beautiful babies, they don’t deserve that. They don’t deserve that feeling they get when their friend who sits next to them at school asks why they have so many dads and then responds to their answer with “That’s weird.” Or when the kid across from them says “Ewwww gays are gross.” They don’t need to be the ones who answer questions about my genitals. They don’t need to be the one who answers any one’s questions. That is not their job.
But here’s the thing. There’s nothing wrong with those kids’ questions. (The number of adults who ask me what’s in my pants, or how do we “even have sex” is more alarming.) These kids are just curious. Just like the adults. There is nothing wrong with being curious. Curiosity is how we evolve as people.
Asking the right questions to the right people at the right time makes all the differenc
I’d love to tell you the number one way that I believe you can be an ally to not only the Transgender Community, but the entire LGBTQ2S+ community is just to TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT LGBTQ2S+ people, issues, and life.
Not only does this help your beautiful humans stop accidentally hurting my (and people like my) beautiful humans, it also helps your kids know that if it turns out that they are a part of the LGBTQ2S+ community that they are loved, accepted, and encouraged to be who they are. It gives them the freedom that comes with unconditional love to be exactly unapologetically them.
Now I know this seems intimidating.
Hell, I’m queer and I don’t know all the answers. But they are kids, they don’t need all the answers. (And right now they don’t care how I have sex. I promise.) It doesn’t have to be a big intense conversation; you can try these 5, very simple ways to open up dialogue with your kids.
5 WAYS TO TALK ABOUT ‘THE QUEERS’ WITH YOUR KIDS
Reading your favourite fairy tale or bedtime story to your kiddos? Great. Swap out that princess for a prince in shining armour; princes might like a little rescuing from time to time too. And if your kiddo says, “That’s silly, he has to rescue a princess not a prince!” let them know that lots of different people love lots of different people.
2. REPRESENTATION MATTERS
Find books about LGBTQ people. There are so many great ones. Look for TV shows. Movies. Make an effort to make friends who are different than you.
From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea
Red: A Crayon’s Story
Pink Is For Boys
The Boy & The Bindi
Mommy, Mama, and Me
I AM JAZZ
Square Zair Pair (Free Kindle Download)
King & King.
3.DON’T ASSUME YOUR KIDS ARE STRAIGHT
We have five kids. Gallup states that between 1-in-5 and 1-in-4 Americans are gay.
The math states that chances are one of them shall sport a rainbow flag at some point. We want them to feel free to be attracted to whoever they damn well please. So as our kids are getting older we don’t say things like, “Do you have a crush on a boy at school ?” to our older girls, instead we say things like, “is there anyone at school these days you think is extra cute?” Or when talking about their friends we ask , “Ohhhh , does Jessica have a crush on any girl or boys in your class?”
I also take the liberties to correct others when they ask my kids heteronormative questions. I yell from the other room, “OR GIRLFRIEND!”
This absolutely annoys our kids. I hear things like, “I know Dad, we can love whoever we want, ” or “I GET IT DAD, but I don’t have a crush on anyone,” I’d rather annoy them like this than have them secretly hating themselves or afraid to tell me their deepest, darkest, gayest secrets.
4. GO TO PRIDE
I get it, you’re straight, rounding up queer friends so you can feel inclusive is weird. But showing your kids that there is a different way of living that is vibrant and loyal and loving is important. Show up as an ally at Pride events, go to your local trans youth awareness week events. Watch your kids’ hearts grow in size, as they learn that everyone is worthy of love, and that no one should be told who to love and how to love. Show up for your kids, and all the kids at the parade who don’t have a parent of their own anymore due to who they are.
5. TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT HOW EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT
The way you talk to your kids will be different based on your home, your kids’ ages, your kids’ personalities, and your own personality and comfort level. We talk about current events at the dinner table. We watch Parenthood with our kids and pause A LOT to talk about what’s happening. How Drew is masturbating all the time and how that might happen to them one day. How Max is different and how the way people treat him says so much about who they are . How not everyone has parents who are able to take care of them. How they can call us in the middle of them night to come and get them after doing things they know they aren’t allowed to do, with total amnesty, because we care more that they are safe than that they broke the rules. This show opens up a lot of dialogue for us. A show like The Fosters for older kids might be a great place to have these conversations about the Queer community for you .
One final bonus thing you can do: Ask me ! It’s funny, because I never wanted to be an advocate. I wanted to glide under the radar. Just be a normal guy. But I have these babies to take care of, in a town of 30K people where I can’t quite blend in. So although educator and advocate isn’t where I thought I’d find myself, here I am.
If you or your tiny humans need someone to ask questions of, feel free to set them loose on me, rather than on the 8 year old at the lunch table with your son who has two moms, or a genderqueer sibling.
I’ve got you covered so they don’t have to.