Fight or Flight

I’ve been sort of restless since my last post, and the events leading up to it.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time in my bible between my discipleship group and, well…digging for answers. 

I found Hebrew and Greek words. I found root meanings. I found  Paul in Acts, demanding that the people who threw him in jail come to him and escort him out. He wasn’t satisfied to go quietly. Our discipleship group discussed this as well. Paul wasn’t just standing up for his rights; he was setting a precedent for those who came behind him. It didn’t look sterile and Christian in the terms that we’ve been taught to think of it in recent years; it looked a lot like rocking a boat that could have gone to shore with very little ripple.

But that precedent. That potential protection of others.

When we first became aware of E’s gender variance, I immediately attempted to run to Christian resources. I wanted hope and support for what I knew, no matter the outcome, would be a challenging road.

I was crestfallen to find that within the first paragraph of about every link I clicked, even with my very limited knowledge at the time, I found false information, false causation for the “why” of what my baby was experiencing.

A poor relationship with the same-sex parent. This one was immediately sort of comical. E has been hooked to my hip since birth, basically. We are buds, nearly inseparable until one of her favorite grandparents come along.

Non-traditional home life. Wrong again. We are the Southern Baptist Convention’s dream: parents married for almost 14 years and going strong, one brother and one sister for E. Branden is the breadwinner and I stay home with the babies. Next!

Liberal ideologies about gender and orientation pushed in the household. I guess the first thing you’d have to know is that you can’t make E do much of anything. The second would be that this is hardly the case. We have two VERY gender norm kids, nearly stereotypical. Bay has been described as “all boy” as many times as he’s been called by his name. Jolee was our fairy princess who often thanked Jesus for everything pink and everything fluffy. It wasn’t really something that occurred much to us, because it never had to. We weren’t doing or not doing anything; we were just living.

Aside from all of that, I don’t know one mother or father on the planet who doesn’t want a good, safe life for their child. No one would wish the struggle, the cruelness of others on their child. When you really think on that part, it’s too absurd to allow to stand.

Trauma of one sort or another during tween/teen years. E told us when she was just two years old who she was. The world hadn’t so much as touched this sweet, wild thing yet. She didn’t even know that what she was telling us was anything but normal because, as we’d learn, it had always just been her normal.

Mental disorder, often linked with other issues such as anxiety and depression. There’s just enough truth in this one: yes, some gender non-conforming kids are indeed anxious and depressed, but more modern, recent research is showing that those issues are often a symptom of a tense home life where the child isn’t embraced for who he or she is. 81% of these types of “comorbidities” disappear inside of a safe home environment.

These are the kinds of “research” we found over and over through Christian avenues. It was so disheartening- almost as disheartening as the “solutions” offered for a child like ours. It’s not happening in our house and in fact, it’s being banned all over the country. As it should.

So….what do you do? I read story after story of families who ended up walking away from traditional Christianity, and walking away from faith altogether.

But I can’t and I won’t, and I don’t think I have to.

One night I stayed up until the earliest hours of the morning, just praying for my baby. You  don’t know the worries we have, and unless you’ve been there, you don’t know the fierceness you feel when you realize how much protecting your child may actually need. I was bent over, my face in my mattress, pouring out prayers. For her protection, her well-being. For her living in a cruel world full of people who are so scared of anything different than what they know.

You can think I’m crazy, and that’s okay. If you’ve gotten this far in and you didn’t already, you may now. God spoke to me. Maybe not in an intercom-in-my-room way, but He spoke peace into me. He told me He saw her, He made her, and He was with her.

I believe Him.

I believe in her.

I say all of this to say, I’m choosing to stay. And educate. And fight when I need to. I’m not going quietly; I’m not going at all.

If ONE scared but believing parent looking for answers stumbles across us somehow, I want them to know that they aren’t alone, that they don’t have to choose, and that they don’t have to live afraid. Your baby isn’t broken, your baby was fearfully and wonderfully made and the God of the universe holds them in His hands. And you, too. He’s got us through this.

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7 thoughts on “Fight or Flight

  1. I admire your will to stay & fight. The attitudes of so many regarding this issue (and so much more) have always kept me at a distance from Christianity; often times I view Christianity as the biggest oxymoron since what is preached isn’t actually practiced, but it’s believers such as yourself that represent what it’s all about and continue to give Christianity a good name for those us from the outside looking in. You fight the good fight and as long as you believe, I admire your passion and fight to stay, and to continue to show non-believers what the religion is all about. Just remember that some of your greatest allies won’t always be Christians and your daughter will have many many more people on her side than what it might feel like from inside the church. ❤

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind encouragement. Our journey over the past year plus has really shown me exactly what you’re speaking of, and I have found the most wonderful, brilliant allies in the most seemingly unlikely places. It’s been a mostly beautiful journey so far. I just hate the idea of people feeling forced to choose when they don’t have to, and I want there to be a large, safe space for that eventually.

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  2. Sweet LIndsay,

    A friend pointed me to this blog, actually, a young mother who was a teenager in my youth group long ago, before I was married, before I was a mother myself.

    My oldest child was born in the middle of the dark night of my soul. My mother died tragically of stage IV breast cancer in my 5th month of pregnancy. I wanted to die myself. And then, there was this little girl, so tiny I was surprised they let me bring the whole four pounds of her home from the hospital, who depended on me to survive. So we did.

    I was raised in a strict Wesleyan Holiness evangelical denomination. I was taught that gay people were going to Hell. I was taught that transgender people were mentally ill. My daddy was an ordained minister. I followed in his footsteps.

    At five, our daughter was all pink, all girl, all sweetness– except she wouldn’t play with Barbies beyond stripping off all their clothes, and she hated it when I put anything in her hair.

    At seven, she was stealing her younger brother’s clothes. They’re only 13 months apart and have always been close to the same size.

    At eleven, she decided to cut off all of her long hair because there was another girl in middle school who looked so much like her that the teachers often mistook one for the other. By this time, she was wearing her brother’s clothes full time, no matter what I tried. She was becoming more angry and withdrawn by the minute.

    At thirteen, she came out as pansexual. She wasn’t even sexual! I told her that we don’t throw people away in this house because of who they are or who they love. I told her that her daddy is gay and that long ago, we decided that we were still better together than we could be apart. The anger abated somewhat, but didn’t disappear.

    We left our church because they could not bring themselves to embrace us for who we are. We are still looking for a place where we fit. That is my one sadness and regret in all of this– that we stayed for too long and allowed the hurt to get too deep and too hardened.

    About a year ago, a friend visiting our home accidentally slipped and outed my child as transgender. I honestly thought this friend was talking about my younger son at the time, but my terrified daughter sent me an email in the middle of the night, long and heart wrenching, asking me to understand that she is really a son.

    The child who lived in the basement full-time, who would not allow anyone to touch him, who snapped at everyone in the family continually, has totally transformed. He now hangs out upstairs with the family, interacts (mostly) pleasantly, has friends over, has a social life.

    This is not the life I thought God was calling me toward. I never dreamed I’d be married to a gay man raising a transgender child and a child with Asperger’s syndrome. I never dreamed I’d be getting private messages on Facebook and Twitter from other Christian families with the same kinds of struggles on nearly a DAILY basis.

    I guess my other regret is that I fought the early signs that A. wanted to dress in “boy” clothes. There’s a picture of the “Last Dress,” a sparkly Christmas number. A. had just cut off his hair back then. He looks so sad and miserable standing by the Christmas tree in the dress that *I* wanted so badly.

    This is a tough journey. I’m praying for you. You’re not alone. You’ll learn that– other struggling mothers will be drawn to you like a moth to a flame. Other transgender children might start showing up at your home, craving the love and acceptance they can’t find in their own family. Don’t be surprised when these things happen. Perhaps this is also your ministry in the world.

    Love and prayers,

    Sister Mary Dandelion

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