Pride Festivals are wonderful things, especially when you want to see just how much support, how many allies we have. Of course, it’s not possible to know for sure who is and who isn’t a member of the LGBTQ+ community (at Pride or anywhere) but sometimes an ally is easy to spot. The moms who come to Pride with t-shirts that say “Free Mom Hugs”? Probably an ally (but again, impossible to know for certain that mom isn’t LGBTQ+). Same with those wearing “Free Dad/Free Sister Hugs” shirts, too.
I am…well, fascinated (jealous?) of moms like that. I think almost all of us have complicated relationships with our parents, but perhaps I am just projecting. I wasn’t the favorite child growing up and that dynamic has more or less lived on decades later. I think things are…thawing between my mom and I and for the most part we have a good, healthy relationship, as long as, you know, THIS side of me isn’t brought up. I’ve come out to her, both on purpose and, well, by accident and despite my efforts it’s been made pretty clear Hannah isn’t really someone my mom wants to know.
And that’s… okay. I have made peace with it. Not everyone is going to love you (or your femme self). I wish things were different but again, I’ve made peace with it, although I have to admit I’ve had a couple “Mom Hugs” at Pride.
But I digress.
Like most things I think about, this little post is about clothes. But this time it’s not about bodycon dresses or sky-high stilettos, it’s about a simple shirt. A shirt that reads “I Love My Trans Kid”. It’s not an uncommon shirt to see at Pride and I saw many moms (and dads) wearing it at last week’s Pride Festival. Usually the parent was with a kid who was, well, a kid. Think teenager or younger. The age isn’t a surprise. I’ve known and accepted this side of me at a young age. I absolutely knew I was transgender (although I didn’t know the word) by the time I was in second grade. Probably even earlier. It’s like knowing you’re right-handed. You just know. You just… are.
The world is a different place than it was when I was discovering who I am all those years ago. We didn’t have words in the common vernacular like “non-binary” or “gender fluid”. We had “transvestite” and “crossdresser”. Words that are a little outdated or not quite expansive enough (at least for me). We also had “sissy”. God, if I were to have come out when I was eight I would have been called a sissy or worse. And I probably would have been called that by my dad.
Damn, a lot of baggage here, lol.
Being who we are isn’t easy. I mean, it kind of is, it should be easier, but the world (for the most part) doesn’t make it very easy, does it? It’s disheartening sometimes to be comfortable and to embrace who we are when we see laws being passed against the LGBTQ+ community or hear a co-worker say something nasty about transpeople. But one thing I can’t experience is what it must be like to be a parent of a kid who is non-binary or gender non-conforming. I mean, in principal it might be easy if you just let your kid dress how they feel and let them wear what they want. Of course that’s probably easier said that done. Letting your son wear a dress is one thing, dealing with the toxicity from the rest of the family or the rest of the world is another.
Parents have to be advocates for their kids, no matter what they need. It might be for medical reasons, or getting your child a tutor, or being their biggest defender and ally for their trans kid. I don’t know if a parent can really prepare to, well, be a parent. I suppose you could read every parenting book in the world but when it comes to the real thing, well, it’s the difference between reading a book on how to drive compared to actually being behind the wheel. A parent should accept their kid and their identity. A parent probably can’t prepare for that conversation aside from resolving to accept and love their child if they do come out. You can’t love your kid conditionally, you can’t decide to love your kid on the condition that they are straight and/or cis.
And at Pride you see that unconditional love. It’s written on their face, it’s written on their clothes. “I Love My Trans Kid”. It doesn’t get more supportive than that.
Don’t get me wrong, my mom is a wonderful, kind, supportive person. But she grew up in a different era. Her kids grew up in a different era. I like to think that if I came out to her when I was younger in today’s world that she’d be wearing a shirt like that, too. I am also positive if any of her grandchildren came out she’d be the supportive grandma.
I don’t know if this website is read by any parents of trans kids but I want to thank you for being your child’s cheerleader, advocate, ally, and voice. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have come out to my own mother (at any age) and to have the support and love that I saw at Pride. I don’t think my (ugh) journey would have led me to a different place than I am today if I had come to my mom when I was in my teens. I love both of my gender identities today, and when I was growing up I didn’t hate or felt uncomfortable being a boy. I just wanted to be a girl sometimes. I didn’t grow out of who I was. I couldn’t. I don’t want to.
There’s no replacing a mom, no matter what you’re going through. I mean, who loves you more than your mom? No one. No one is “supposed to”. And yes, I know that not all of us have the support and love we need from our parents, regardless of one’s gender identity. I know I have my mom’s love and support and friendship. I don’t have any grudge against my mom because of her… uncomfortableness with Hannah. I know that coming out changes a relationship, it impacts the dynamic. You may be a fierce advocate of the LGBTQ+ community but, let’s face it, it’s a LITTLE different when your own child comes out. It’s not easy to accept sometimes, it’s not an easy conversation to have. Sometimes you just need to pretend you never came out. I mean, that’s kind of what my mom and I do. Again, don’t misunderstand me, I love my mom and I know as her son I have her love and support.
And that’s enough. It has to be.