Hop against Homophobia and Transphobia

So, today is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/ and to mark the day lots of people around the web are taking part in the (blog) Hop against Homophobia and Transphobia.

hop

I was amused in a slightly sad and bitter way to find that the instructions that came with participation in this event refer to it as the Hop against Homophobia, and in the ‘what to include’ section offers the advice to ‘give your message on homophobia’ and ‘do whatever else you feel like: link to sites you’re familiar with that focus on fighting homophobia’. Look at that URL again if you don’t believe me.

I’m all for blogging against homophobia, but it’s a sad reflection of society’s priorities that even the ‘how to’ section of the ‘hop against homophobia and transphobia’ forgets to mention the possibility that you might want to blog about transphobia instead.

As the mother of a transgender child, I’m very aware of how the world is stacked against him. It was OK when he was pre-puberty and everyone assumed he was a boy anyway, but puberty heralded bullying and withdrawal and endlessly having to think up reasons why he couldn’t go swimming without a wetsuit, why he couldn’t do PE at school (where he would be forced to use the girls’ changing rooms,) why he couldn’t go into toilets when he was outside the house, leading to him giving up drinking altogether, etc.

They’re all little things, I know. Little things attended with massive existential anxiety. Little things attended with society’s constant incomprehension that there’s even a problem – its attempts to push the blame on him for being difficult. I’m not even mentioning the statistics on self-harm and suicide among transgendered children, although as a mother I live in fear for him. And I’m not even mentioning my continuing fear that he will be targeted for transphobic violence or even murdered, as happens to so many transgender people.

But I am thinking, damn, it’s hard when the very movement that’s apparently set up to raise awareness of this decides he doesn’t exist, or that his problems are not worth talking about.

So, rather than get all angry, I’ll use this opportunity to big up the Tavistock and Portland Clinic, who are doing something constructive:

http://www.tavistockandportman.nhs.uk/GIDSresearch

and the NHS which has so far been more understanding and more helpful – and more willing to believe him – than I had ever been led to believe.

~

In accordance with the blog-hop instructions I’ll be offering a book to a random commenter, so check back in a few days to see if your name came up and if you need to tell me where to send it.

Also, since this is a sensitive subject that can easily devolve into arguments in which real-life people get hurt, I will be strictly monitoring and controlling the comments. In contrast to my usual behaviour on my blog, I’m not interested in an intellectual debate about this. I have done the debate already and I’ve come down on the side of believing my son.

~


Comments (49)

SuzeMay 17th, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Your comments about your son’s struggles with PE etc really bringhome how many daily obstacles are in the way of transgendered people. Glad to hear the NHS are supporting you both.

laurie gMay 17th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

thank you so much for the wonderful post. and i am sure your son is so happy to have you on his side. my mom use to baby sit a boy who was gay and he was very effeminate and had a hard time growing up. he is now a happy relationship but my heart always breaks at what he had to go thru.

parisfan_ca@yahoo.com

KimberlyFDRMay 17th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Thank you for taking part in the hop!

kimberlyFDR@yahoo.com

HJMay 17th, 2013 at 4:09 pm

I’m delighted and relieved to hear that the NHS has been understanding and helpful. The study being carried out by the Tavistock and Portland Clinic looks very interesting – both because of the acceptance that a young person just approaching puberty can know what gender they really are, and because I’ve wondered before whether it wouldn’t be better for transgender people to be able to avoid having to take hormones in their twenties.

Surely it would be better psychologically not to have one’s body change into something even more alien to one’s gender identity? I’m delighted that someone is studying it carefully; it could revolutionise the way in which transgender people are treated (in all senses of the word).

Alex BeecroftMay 17th, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Thanks, Suze. Yes, I think they can sound like unimportant things, but it’s only if you don’t think of them as daily roadblocks thrown up in the way of your very self. And yes, when lack of unisex loos makes your child decide that the best thing to do is not to pee at all, and the way to achieve that is scarcely to drink at all, it stops looking like such a minor thing.

But yes, the school nurse and the NHS doctor we went to have both been wonderful, which has made a big difference.

Alex BeecroftMay 17th, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Hi Laurie! Thanks for commenting :) I’m glad to say that I think my son took it for granted that his family were on his side. I am sure it must have made it easier for him that his dad, sister and I have all been very outspoken against homophobia and transphobia in the past, so he knew we would be sympathetic from the outset. I don’t honestly understand how anyone could not choose their child first.

Alex BeecroftMay 17th, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Thank you Kimberly! I’m sorry I seem to have used it as an opportunity to complain, but the disparity between the name of the campaign on the badge and the instructions as to how to participate was striking.

Alex BeecroftMay 17th, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Hi HJ :) Yes, I’ve been very impressed by our local NHS so far, if only because I’d heard horror stories from other people and had been expecting to have to fight them all the way. We’ve been to the Tavistock clinic a couple of times now and are getting underway on the whole process of transitioning. They’re cautious and slow, but they don’t seem intransigent, and they’ve put us in touch with some other transgender children and their parents, which makes the whole process seem less lonely. It’s encouraging to hear from people who are further along the line than us and to find that their children are generally much happier.

Sophia RoseMay 17th, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Hi Alex!

I won’t pretend to understand what it has been like for your son and others in his shoes and the families who support them, but I’d like to think I’m a compassionate and understanding sort. I’m glad for your reminder.

sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

TrixMay 18th, 2013 at 12:13 am

It seems that trans* concerns so often get pushed under the rug…great post!

vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

E.E. OttomanMay 18th, 2013 at 1:01 am

thank you for writing transphobia! I’ve noticed very few other people in the hop have been talking about it. I’m so glad your son has the support of his family during his ongoing transition.

Charley DescoteauxMay 18th, 2013 at 3:20 am

Hi Alex!

A few years ago I was talking with a nice young guy at Pride (can’t remember what org he was with), and he asked if it was okay to hug me–and then he thanked me for loving my daughter and sticking by her. Right now I know exactly how he felt. My daughter is trans and I never considered NOT sticking by her, so at the time I accepted the hug but didn’t quite understand what he must’ve been feeling during our conversation.

Thanks for your post. It means a lot to hear from another mom who gets it. *hug*

Have a wonderful weekend!
Charley

IssaMay 18th, 2013 at 4:09 am

How lucky your son is to have such a supportive mom!

cojazzchick AT yahoo DOT com

Alex BeecroftMay 18th, 2013 at 5:08 pm

@Sophia Rose Thank you! Goodwill is the most important thing, I think.

Alex BeecroftMay 18th, 2013 at 5:12 pm

@Trix Thanks for the comment, and yes, unfortunately you’re right. Still, things have improved a great deal since I was young, when as far as I know transitioning was still considered impossible, or at least was never spoken about at all. I’m glad my children have better opportunities than I had.

Alex BeecroftMay 18th, 2013 at 5:14 pm

@E.E. Ottoman Thank you! I’m glad to say that he didn’t appear to ever doubt that he would have our support – and rightly so because there was no need to doubt. I just wish the same was true for all children in the same situation.

Alex BeecroftMay 18th, 2013 at 5:24 pm

@Charley Descoteaux
My daughter is trans and I never considered NOT sticking by her, Well, that’s it exactly isn’t it? You’re a mother, that’s what you do. You accept your children for who they are and help them grow up into the person they want to be. It doesn’t seem like any kind of moral choice, it’s just impossible to understand what could cause someone not to do it.

*Hugs back*. Since posting this I think you’re the third mum of a transgender child I’ve talked to. (The others on the mirror of this blog on my livejournal so there are more of us around than I had thought :)

Alex BeecroftMay 18th, 2013 at 5:26 pm

@Issa Thank you :) Though as I was saying to Charley, it seems less like luck and more like part of the job description of motherhood to me.

XakaraMay 19th, 2013 at 1:55 am

I’m so sorry for what your son has gone through and continues to go through. As a genderfluid child, it was difficult trying to figure out why I was different and why there wasn’t a place for me. I’m lucky, in that I’m at peace with being female-bodied and I don’t feel it takes from being male as well, but it was a hard earned path. Wherever your son’s journey takes him, I hope that peace comes sooner than later and he realizes that he has a place, no matter what anyone else might think.

{{{Peace & Self-Acceptance Vibes}}} to him, and {{{screw off vibes}}} to anyone that can’t see his beauty.

~Xakara
My HAHAT Contribution Writing From the Middle: BiErasure & BiVisibility

Sophia MartinMay 19th, 2013 at 5:05 am

FWIW I’ve seen several HAHAT blogs specifically addressing transphobia and the challenges trans people face. :) So while the organizers may have a blindspot, many participants don’t. It must be very hard to watch your child deal with insensitivity and worse. I send you both virtual hugs, wishing I could do more.

JenreMay 19th, 2013 at 9:05 am

Hi Alex

Thank you for sharing your fears and worries for your son. I blogged about a couple in my church whose son, now daughter, came out as trans* last year and the way they have supported her. Your experiences mirror theirs as they help their daughter as best as they can whilst worrying about her at the same time. My hope is that by raising issues through days like this for trans* people, then that will promote greater acceptance and help relieve the fears of parents everywhere for their trans* children. It may be a pipe dream at this stage but greater awareness may bring change.

Alex BeecroftMay 19th, 2013 at 5:08 pm

@Xakara Thanks for commenting :) My experience with gender has personally been very much like yours, by the sound of things. Which I suppose was a good education in how to accept my son’s troubles with gender with some degree of understanding. His path is not quite the same as mine but there’s enough overlap for his problems to not be completely opaque to me, as they might have been if I’d been completely cis-gender myself.

Thank you! And thank you for your post too :)

Alex BeecroftMay 19th, 2013 at 5:10 pm

@Sophia Martin Thank you! Yes, I’ve seen quite a few trans* related posts as a result of this, and met two other ladies who are mothers of trans* children, so it’s been a great thing for me. I shouldn’t be such a grouch!

Thank you for the hugs! Sending some back your way :)

Alex BeecroftMay 19th, 2013 at 5:26 pm

@Jenre Thank you for your post :) I think there’s no question that things are better now for trans* people than they were when I was my son’s age. The fact that we can receive treatment to help him transition on the NHS is a marvelous thing. But it seems to be something which can scare and challenge people to the core and unfortunately there’s still a long way to go. Hopefully by the time he’s my age, things will be even more exponentially better ;) And your post has definitely helped in that. Thank you.

StormyMondayMay 19th, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Thank you for sharing your and your son’s personal experiences and for including the link. This sounds like a very worthy study. Hopefully it will help your son and other teenagers! It’s good to see people addressing transphobia and trans-related issues. There is not enough helpful information about it in the general news. I actually thought it was a big step forward from last year to include transphobia in the title. Maybe the instructions were last year’s?
I understand that you fear for your son’s well-being, it’s so sad that trans people still face so much opposition, even from within the GLBTQ community. Hopefully sharing your story will raise people’s awareness! All the best to you and your family!

BethMay 20th, 2013 at 2:12 am

That was a wonderful post. It was very enlightening. I can only hop that more events like this can spread awareness.

Alex BeecroftMay 20th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

@StormyMonday You’re right – it’s a step up for them to include transphobia at all this year. I hadn’t realized that they hadn’t included it last year. I think if I had I’d have been more inclined to praise their progress and let the instructions slip – or at least been a bit kinder about how I put it. Shame on me!

We’ve been to the Tavistock clinic now a couple of times in the process of getting put on the waiting list for hormone therapy and they seem to me like a great bunch. I’m very grateful to them. In my day I’m not aware that help was there at all. So bad as it is, it’s still a lot better than it used to be.

Thank you!

Alex BeecroftMay 20th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Thanks Beth! Yes, they say that realizing that you know someone who is LGBTQ is one of the big steps on the road to acceptance, so hopefully it helps for all of us to speak up and make it known that we’re here.

UrbanistaMay 21st, 2013 at 3:36 am

Your support of your son is a story that needs to be heard! Thanks for sharing, and for broadening our understanding of transphobia–a topic which receives so little attention.
Urbanista
brendurbanist @gmail. com

CarolynMay 21st, 2013 at 7:49 am

I don’t know about every mom (or parent) who exists in the world, but I know that since becoming one (almost 17 years ago), I look at the world through a new lens. I think of all the children growing up today as if they were my son or daughter and what I’d want for them. It is the same thing I want for my son and daughter: joy and love. Whatever that means means for them, I want them to have it. Every story, every single one, where I hear of a child harmed, in body or soul, because of someone’s hatred and ignorance gets to me. It’s almost too much some days to think of what’s happening to the world’s children because of hatred and ignorance. And yet, every bright spot, every tale of the human kindness I so strongly believe in makes me smile through the tears. Reading your story and seeing others’ stories makes the smile grow. Thank you so much, Alex, for adding your powerful voice to this very important conversation. May we have a society one day where this conversation won’t even need to be had, except to say there was a dark time, for too long, where people couldn’t be who they were without fear, and how wonderful it is that the time is over.

Alex BeecroftMay 21st, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Thanks Ubanista. I hear that actually meeting or hearing from LGBT people (and their allies) is what changes people’s minds better than any argument, so I figure that it’s a good idea to talk about this stuff.

Alex BeecroftMay 21st, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I’m with you, Carolyn. I don’t understand how people can see that a belief causes misery and pain and death in the world and still choose that belief over the lives of real children. Still, I remember that in my day there wasn’t even this much of a debate – nobody was putting the other side at all. So things are better nowadays than they have ever been for trans* children. It’s not great, but it is getting better, and huge strides have been made with hormone therapy and surgery, and with public awareness. I’m hoping that by the time my son is my age, it will have improved as much again, because there has been huge progress, thank God.

JulianaMay 22nd, 2013 at 3:43 am

Thanks for your story of support & for your post in this blog hop! Such an important subject.

OceanAkers @ aol.com

Emily W.May 23rd, 2013 at 7:40 am

Thanks for sharing Alex. You know, I didn’t even notice that at first when I skimmed the instructions, but they did include transphobia this year, which is a step up. I recently watched a video on youtube about a young boy who felt he was trapped in the wrong body and was supposed to be born a girl, and all the drama that resulted. The one thing that encouraged me though, was that her family supported her, which is most often not the case. What broke my heart though was that the family had to be restationed (military family) from Okinawa to back in the States, due to all the hate and death mail they received when they let their son be herself and go to school in a dress.

It’s a great video, and I highly recommend watching it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsVV_CEd7_Y

Thanks a bunch Alex for your awesome post, and thanks for participating!

tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com

Alex BeecroftMay 23rd, 2013 at 8:32 am

Thanks Juliana!

Alex BeecroftMay 23rd, 2013 at 8:41 am

Thank you, Emily! What an interesting and mostly encouraging video :) My son is planning on taking that step this September – trying to get everyone outside the family to acknowledge him as a boy. I suspect that is when things will start to get difficult, because you can’t guarantee that the rest of the world is going to be as accepting as you are. I wish you could!

Sophie BonasteMay 23rd, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Thank you so much for your post and participating in this amazing hop! It is so important to get the word about there about transphobia and homophobia. We need to end the hate and spread the love.

Shirley Ann SpeakmanMay 25th, 2013 at 10:49 pm

A Great post So sorry about all the problems that have been caused to your son I’m so glad you son has a family like yours.

ShirleyAnn@speakman40.freeserve.co.uk

Alex BeecroftMay 27th, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Thanks Sophie! I quite agree :)

Alex BeecroftMay 27th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Thanks Shirley! Sadly I can see things getting worse for him before they get better, but hopefully they will get better in the end.

Erica PikeMay 27th, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Hi Alex,

The hop this year includes transphobia as well. If it wasn’t in the instructions then it was my fault. I copy/pasted the instructional message from last year and I didn’t notice the error (there was also a date error, if you look closer). Thank you for pointing it out to me. Teaches me to leave thing alone when I’m in a hurry.

Jade CrystalMay 27th, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I am sorry to hear about your son’s struggles but happy that his family supports him fully. I know several gay people and have known someone who is bi, so I feel a bit more connected to the homophobia/biphobia side of things, I think. I don’t know any trans people personally. I do know of someone who is the spouse of a friend but don’t know her well even if I have been told of some of the things they are going through as a couple. But I do try to be aware and knowledgeable, I do support the trans community, and I try to be sensitive to those needs. Thanks for sharing your and your son’s story. There definitely needs to be more trans awareness.

PeggyMay 27th, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Thank you for the post.

peggy1984 at live dot com

Alex BeecroftMay 27th, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Hi Erica,

Thanks so much for contacting me about this, and I’m sorry that I made you feel bad about it. It’s great to know that it was just a rushed job with the copy and paste and not something that had managed to make it past several stages of being approved by various people. I’m sorry I reacted so strongly. It’s just hard, you know, when it’s your child. I get a little mama bear about it. And actually I guess I’m a little ashamed that I didn’t feel like this before I knew it affected my own family. I should have been more committed and aware out of principle not just because it’s my own flesh and blood.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is thank you ever so much for adding transphobia to the hop at all this year. I hadn’t realized when I posted this that that was a new thing this year. If I had, I would have been able to tell that they were just older instructions that hadn’t yet been updated, and I would have understood.

I’m sorry again. Thank you for all your efforts in running the hop, and I hope it goes even better next year,

Alex

Sherry S.May 28th, 2013 at 12:06 am

Great post! Thank you for taking part in the hop!
sstrode at scrtc dot com

PenumbraMay 28th, 2013 at 2:40 am

Thanks for sharing and participating in this great hop!

penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

Alex BeecroftMay 28th, 2013 at 8:30 am

Thanks to you too :)

Alex BeecroftMay 28th, 2013 at 8:30 am

Thanks Sherry :)

Alex BeecroftMay 28th, 2013 at 8:48 am

Thanks for commenting, Jade. Yes it’s a much less visible thing than homophobia, I guess, but once you start noticing it you notice that it’s everywhere. It’s just getting through that first barrier of invisibility which sometimes seems so hard.

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