|Sometimes I paint things.|
I finished this painting on September 1st, 2013.
I remember because it was my birthday, and I made sure my
It's a symbolic family tree. I was trying to be all artsy. Each one of us is represented by a different colour. I immediately began jokingly referring to it as "The Pride Tree" because of how colourful it is. At the time, LGBT issues were far more peripheral for us than they are now.
That's what is known as "cosmic foreshadowing," kids.
Today is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). It's a day to memorialize trans men and women whose lives have been lost due to hate crimes and prejudice. I can't find statistics for Canada right now, but I know that, in the U.S, 1 in 12 trans women are murdered. And if you're a trans woman of colour, that already frightening statistic jumps to 1 in 8.
Then we need to consider physical assault, rape and harassment. We need to figure in the nearly 50% attempted suicide rate, and the abysmal statistics surrounding unemployment, poverty, addiction and homelessness.
Last year, I had no idea this day even existed. In fact, I knew next to nothing about the nuts and bolts of transgender issues, only that I supported individuals in their rights to be, well, individuals. Do your outsides not match your insides? I'm sure that feels awful. Go ahead and change them; I've got your back. Always.
I'm glad I've always felt that way and shared it openly with my kids. When I did so, I figured it would help them become more openminded. But I had no idea it would apply directly to one of them.
This time last year, I didn't know what I know now. I wasn't a mother faced with a lot of scary statistics. I feel like I was handed an enormous responsibility, and I don't always feel equipped to deal with it.
I could choose to be terrified. And admittedly, for a little while, I was terrified. Who wouldn't be, when faced with the prospect of losing your child simply because they're trying to be who they really are?
But I've mostly moved beyond that - at least for now. I'm choosing to be empowered by these stats rather than scared by them. I'm going to do my absolute best to make sure my daughter doesn't become a statistic; that she's surrounded by accepting, caring and educated people who will protect her from those who aren't.
I'm going to instil as much confidence, assertiveness, street smarts (and some self-defence classes!) into that kid as I can before I have to let her go out into the big, scary world.
And then I'll freak out a little. For sure.
Today, on our first TDOR, instead of being afraid, I sat in silence for a few minutes and honoured all the people who came before Gutsy and fought so bravely for their rights and hers.
I thought of all the laws that have been passed and the laws that still need to pass.
I thought about the astounding support we've received, and the ignorance that's still very much alive and waiting in the wings.
I thought about the strength it takes to be yourself in a world that tries its best to make us all conform.
I thought about the many transgender people who've reached out to tell me they wish their parents had been as supportive as we are, and how much of a difference that would have made for them.
I thought about how sad it is that we live in a world in which I'm considered a "good parent" because I accept my child for who she is. Shouldn't that be always be the case? We're only doing what unconditional love tells us we should do. It's not rocket science.
I've thought about those I've spoken with in the trans community who are fed up, suicidal, and feeling unbelievably alone.
And then I thought of her.
And how she's having a sleepover tonight with her best friend, who is also trans.
And how they're laughing in my basement right now and watching YouTube videos and just being silly, wonderful kids.
And I just want to wrap them up in a little bubble and keep them safe forever.
But I can't. That's why you're reading this post. It's why I hope you'll share it, or another like it, so that people in your life can read, learn, and help make the world a safer place.
I don't ever want to have to remember my child.