I have no idea why the “I Am Ryland” post is making new rounds after all of this time. I can only assume it’s because these are strange days, it feels relevant, and it so easily solves the “problem” of trans kids.
For those who haven’t read it, you can find the post here.
Three years ago, it made total sense to me, too. Why in the world would we push kids into boxes, why not just let them be kids? I even shared the post, saying it was an interesting angle, and I liked the freedom of the approach.
Three years ago, I had no idea how much I didn’t know.
I could appreciate Lindsay’s perspective because for some kids and adults, her experience will resonate. I could, that is, if not for its misleading title and intention. The unfortunate part is not in her experience, not at all, but in the assumption that Lindsay was a would-be trans child.
She was not Ryland.
Lindsay’s story is one of a gender non-comforming child; a child that does not adhere to society’s gender roles. That is wonderful, and her parents did the absolute right thing for her, and I applaud them. But her experience is not one of a transgender child.
Oh, that it were that simple. This giving of space, of freedom, of throwing out gender standards in the hopes that it would satiate a child that at first glance seems confused is a path many a parent has gone down, myself included.
I’ve said this here before, but it bears repeating: do you honestly think any parent in their right mind would make things more complicated for themselves, or harder/more dangerous for their child?
No. Neither would I.
However, for a fraction of kids, all the room and space and freedom and ceramic donkeys aren’t enough. They know who they are, and have to wait, sometimes to their detriment, while the rest of us catch up. I’ve hurt and betrayed my own child in the name of making sure I’ve given the “space” that would make those around me happy, comfortable. It didn’t make E happy or comfortable. Room, for all its goodness, cannot make up for not being heard, seen, and believed when you have dysphoria.
Lindsay was not dysphoric. Lindsay did not say, “I am a boy.” Lindsay did not live in a world where what she knew about herself and what she was being told/what she lived were at true odds.
Lindsay was a tomboy, and to tell the story of a tomboy is wonderful. To pass it off as the story of a “male identifying” person is not.
Here’s the trouble: we can see hate, recognize it easily, and avoid it. We see things like this, and they sound so good, and we buy in. They make the right amount of sense. They let us hold on to our preconceived notions and give us permission to gently continue to condemn; to stay separate from that which makes us uncomfortable.
I’d still be there, too. But my baby began to talk, and my world changed. While I gave space, and will continue to, I am also listening, and seeing, and believing. I educated myself, sought out professionals to come alongside our family, and what seemed simple no longer was. Funny how that tends to happen.
All this to say: please think before you share Lindsay’s piece, it can be harmful to trans kids and those who are struggling to accept them. If you would like to read more about amazing gender non-conforming kiddos like Lindsay, I highly recommend checking out Raising My Rainbow.