On Saturday night my sister and hosted Middle and I and a group of her friends from all across the Queer spectrum for a little nail painting/pizza and cake-eating/dance party. I thought that Middle needed to be exposed to a broader spectrum of people than are in are mostly white/Asian/middle-upper class/mostly straight circle. We tell Middle that there are other people like she is: “girls with a pen!ses”, “boys with vulv@s”, “boys who wear dresses”, “girls with short hair”, “people who don’t want to be called a boy or a girl”, “girls who want to marry girls”, “boys who want to marry boys”, and “some people who want to marry both”. We tell her over and over again that people can be whoever they want to be, love whoever they want to love, and change their minds too. But she doesn’t see it. I would give anything in the world for another little trans girl to move in down the street; I can only imagine how awesome that would be for Middle. We left the house as dusk was falling. Middle felt like such a big girl off to a party at a grown-up’s house after dark. Not quite so big though – she very sweetly fell asleep on the 45 minute drive there. She woke up as we parked and bounded out of the car. I don’t know if it was the pleasure of being the center of attention or a recognition that on some level these people were a little bit more like her than your average adult but Middle had such a good time. She got each of her nails painted a different color and topped with sparkly glitter. She drew pictures of mermaids. She showed off some really good dance moves. (Watching her it got me thinking that I she shouldn’t be taking ballet, she should be taking hip-hop). At home and the next day she chatted to me about the boys “who were kind of like girls, but not girls, still boys”, she wanted to more about the woman who looked to her to be androgynous, and she told me how nice it was to me other gay girls “like me”.
At the party, as Middle colored across the room, I was having some side conversations with my sister’s friends. One thing that struck me was how difficult all of their adolescence, early adulthood, and especially coming out had been. I have to remind myself that while I don’t control the universe, what I am doing does matter. One of the other guests told me that in almost all of the cases of sad stories she has seen, the person’s parents had not accepted them. She talked of a woman she knew who had come out as gay to her parents and was then summarily kicked out of the house, taken off of the family health insurance plan, and disowned to the point that her parents refer to her brother as “their only child”. I can’t fathom how anyone could do that to their child. It is absolutely sick and wrong and my heart breaks for all the little kids out there with parents who won’t love them for who they are. We’ve always accepted Middle for who she is or whoever she might become. It hit me this weekend, that she will never have to “come out” to us. We know she’s somewhere on the Queer spectrum. We’ve known for a long time. She may change how she identifies her gender or sexual orientation over the years, but we will NEVER stuff her in a closet that she has to come out of.
Going to the party, seeing Middle so happy, was also good for me to. It’s good for me too, as a mother, to see a group of thriving young Queer people. Anyone who does any research at all into the experience of being transgender or gay quickly comes across some horrific suicide statistics: 50% of transgender youth will have attempted suicide by age 20, 30% of LGBTQ youth report at least one suicide attempt in the last year. Those numbers scare me so much I can barely talk about them. I am doing everything I can to make sure that Middle never feels that she is better off out of this world than in it. It is a balm for my soul to get a glimpse of what life might look like for Middle when she grows up: a house full of friends, people to go out dancing with, someone special who adores her and she adores back.