He is 18 years old, he just graduated high school and he is due to start college very soon. Graduating was a bit of a complicated road and he navigated it like a champ. He kicked that last Calculus class' a.....butt. (SEE! I'm TRYING!) I am so, SO very proud of this kid. Yes, he's a lot younger than me, but we met in the ED partial program and he's a part of my close support group. I love having him over to visit, but I think my kids love it even more. As soon as we pick him up at the train station my daughter starts talking and doesn't stop until I leave to drop him off. She literally said to me last night, "It's not fair! Why do you get to spend so much time with him? He's my friend too!"
Did I mention he is transgender?
No? Huh. Must have slipped my mind. Probably because it DOESN'T MATTER WHATSOEVER to me. That's how I believe it should be. And that is how my husband and I are raising our kids.
This is the part where anybody who doesn't agree with what I just said should stop reading. Stop reading this post and stop reading my blog.
Because what I say may anger some people. And that makes me so incredibly sad. My children have always been raised never to be quick to judge anybody. Good lord, if they were then I'd be in a WHOLE LOT OF TROUBLE.....seriously. My daughter has 8 grandparents - 5 grandmothers and 3 grandfathers, all of whom she is completely over the moon about. My son has 4 grandparents - 3 grandmothers and 1 grandfather whom he adores. I struggle with depression and other mental health issues along with my ED, which my daughter is old enough to at least begin to understand the concept of. (There's also the part where my husband and I both work in the psychiatric field, so she has been exposed to that since birth.) My daughter moved a lot when she was younger, and she became friends with people of all races and cultures. I am happy to say that the school she is in now has children from so many backgrounds and the staff really does what they can to teach the students about each different culture in a special, exciting way to help them be accepting and loving towards one another. Seeing some of the school projects she brings home that are focused on this really make my heart swell. It makes me feel like the world is changing. Maybe not as quickly as I would like it to, but perhaps it will be a less angry place for my children when they grow up.
Back to my 18 year-old friend.
It breaks my heart to see what he has to go through on a daily basis. There are so many things that I would never think about that he struggles with every. single. day. As much as I have wallowed in my own self-pity on my worst days, I am pretty sure nobody has every truly wanted me not to exist. Simply for being something that I can't even help being. God......I can't even IMAGINE the strength it must take to not only wake up and deal with that every day, but to FIGHT AGAINST IT. He is 18 and he stands up to that ignorance! He wants to help others to stop them from hurting.
How do you have enough left in you to help others when you are feeling defeated yourself?
When you know what it is like to be broken, to feel lost and disconnected and like you are floating around untethered to anybody or anything that truly understands you body, mind, and soul....I guess you just can't stand to think of anybody else feeling so much pain? I try to help others because I know what it is like to be at rock bottom when my depression hits, so I liken it to that. But that is just my brain attacking me, not a large percentage of the world spewing hateful, disgusting, callow words at people like me every single day. He has to see it on TV, hear about it on the radio....read about it on his social media accounts. He has people say it to his face when he walks down the street.
But HE CAN'T CHANGE THE PERSON HE IS.
I want to scream and throw things at all of the mean human beings that hurt my best friend. I cannot throw things, but I can use my words to try to educate them. I will break it down as simple as possible. This is how I explained it to my daughter this morning (she had a hard time fully understanding the concept of transgender until I said it like this, and hopefully this helps others who have the same issue...):
A transgender person is a person of one gender trapped in the body of the opposite gender.
Our friend is a boy trapped in a girl body.
His soul (*making hand motions of a soul up in the air*) came down and got confused and accidentally jumped (*making jumping motion!*) into a baby girl body, so he was born a baby girl instead of a baby boy! So, all of his life, he had to look like a girl. He looked in the mirror and would get upset, because what he saw didn't look like what he felt inside. So he was very, very sad. That is why we need to be SO extra supportive and loving of him while he goes through this transition to become a boy, because it is going to be very hard, and a lot of people aren't going to understand, but in the end he is going to be SO HAPPY! He will finally be able to look in the mirror and see his soul. Just like you have always been able to see yourself when you look in the mirror!
And then she understood.
She is 10. I hope everybody reading this can understand that explanation as well.
Don't judge. It's a nasty thing to do.