All the trans news that fits! (and some that never will)
Over and over, in one conversation after another, most of you who transitioned or are transitioning later in life voice your lament for not having come out and transitioned earlier. I know. I do, too.
Zay Crawford is free to be herself and learn to understand herself, and it all comes from the love emanating from her parents. At first, I wanted to say her parents are amazing, but really all they do is quite simple: They love their child. One thing that helped Zay’s parents, which they describe in the television interview, is a TedTalk. I have shown this to almost all of my classes. You should watch it.
It all sounds so promising, and if we’re not careful, we could be lulled into the slumbering thought that we can just cruise toward equality in auto pilot. We need to keep in mind what’s at stake, and that Zay and the Crawfords are just one example, one family, and that they live practically within walking distance of where Leelah Alcorn lived before taking her own life just three months ago.
The fact is, the attempted suicide rate for young transgender and intersex children continues to be unacceptably high, and it’s also true that trans and intersex children are routinely bullied in elementary schools. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In a sense, videos like this can be instructional. Maybe if we can turn the discussions inspired by videos like this from being just about the child, but also about the parents of transgender and intersex children, real changes inside families can begin to take place.
Parents concerned about the welfare of transgender and intersex children in their community’s schools would be providing a great service if they went to a school board meeting and suggested this video or others like it. Videos like this can serve as a guide for administrators, teachers, school bus drivers and teacher’s aides. It can remind them that how they conduct themselves and what they say in the hallways, and how they respond to bullying and harassment really do matter. It could help them appreciate the value of their transgender and intersex students more than they already do.
Local PTAs and PTOs and other similar clubs could be convinced to discuss issues regarding transgender and intersex students, as well. For those parents whose school age children are not transgender or intersex students, a video like this can open their eyes and their hearts by showing them that these children are real people, with real feelings, and not something to be afraid of or demonized. Children raised in families that respect human life in all its diverse forms tend to do the same, and do not bully or tease their classmates.
The path forward for transgender and intersex equality isn’t just love or just awareness or just laws, but a combination of all three. Each one feeds the others.
In the meantime, for those of you who feel you started your transition too late, I am right there with you. I did, too. But I am learning that we come to know ourselves the best we can in the context that is our lives. While part of me cries when I watch this video because I wish Zay Crawford’s life had been mine, another part of me is overcome by the beauty of what is happening. Trans and intersex children are becoming visible and it feels like walking into a hidden valley and watching the flowers bloom for the first time in the rising sun. The air is fresh, crisp, and alive. Did we ever think of this? Any of us?
A lot of us waited, and while we may not have a life like Zay Crawford’s, we do have the life we have now. For me, that life includes three incredible children and three granddaughters and a daughter-in-law. I’m luckier than most. Sometimes it’s really hard. We’ve all lost a lot along the way, and we still have a long way to go. We don’t have federal protections for our civil rights, and only a few states include us in theirs. But, school districts all across this country are finally realizing they can no longer ignore and mistreat students like Zay Crawford. Love can bring about the confidence children need to be themselves, and it can mean being visible, which will only increase awareness and the demand for good policies that we can all live with.
So, here’s to you, Zay, and your parents. Here’s to you, my trans and intersex friends, no matter what age you were when you came out, and here’s to me.
Here’s to all of us! We have a lot of work to do, and school board meetings to attend, so let’s get to it . . . right after we stop and smell the flowers for just a moment – maybe two.