Recently I wrote a post about worrying about things outside of your control. In it, I talked about how as parents, we fear for our kid's safety, and while it's normal to worry, excessive worry and fear undermine our trust in our kids and our ability to parent. I stand by what I said. But what do we do when the places our children go to be safe come under attack? How can you let go of the fear and worry when your child can't be free to be in their own community? How can you keep moving forward if your child isn't safe or if you feel that their safety is being threatened? You get mad, gather your people, and take action.
There's no shame in feeling angry.
It's okay to be angry. We should be furious, frustrated, and outraged. The one thing every parent wants most for their child is for them to be safe and happy. If our children can't go into the world without feeling fearful for their lives or worrying about being the target of hate crimes, that's not okay. They shouldn't have to worry about which bathrooms they can use or if they can use the word husband or wife regarding their partners. They should be able to dress how they want and show up as their authentic, beautiful selves. Anything less isn't acceptable.
It's okay to be sad and anxious. What you don't want to do is to let fear get in the way of your ability to take action. You don't want to be paralyzed by worry and helplessness.
Just like how we don't grieve in front of our children, it's a good idea to shield them from our worries. It's okay to let them know if you are angry that their rights and freedoms are under attack. They are angry about that too. Be sure to center their feelings more than your own, however.
Another way we can protect our children is to join forces with each other.
Being the parent of a transgender child is lonely, but it doesn't have to be. When my son Leo came out as transgender, I was the only person in my circle with a transgender child. Since 2016, that hasn't changed, except for the introduction of Leo's fiance. Thanks to social media and the wonder that is the internet, I now know a lot of parents of transgender children. We've met on Instagram and in support groups on Facebook. Many I've met through this website and because they've subscribed to my email newsletter.
"There's strength in numbers. Once we show the world that we're together, they can't stop us."
The point is that people out there want to connect with and support you. Find a Free Mom Hugs chapter in your local area. Join the Mama Bears groups on FaceBook. These are secret groups, meaning no one can see who the members are or what they post once you join.
Two groups might interest you-one big group for mamas of all LGBTQ+ children and a sub-group for mamas of transgender kids. You have to be a member of the big group to join the smaller group. If you click this link, go to groups at the top of the page, the first link is for the big group, and then Mama Bears MTK is for mamas of trans kids. A lot of mamas join these groups (there are 36.2k mamas in the big group), so be patient if you request to join. It's real people screening to ensure the groups stay safe, and it takes a day or two.
Finally, ally is an action word, and this is where the action comes in.
Once our kids leave home, our job as protectors ends. We have to trust that we have given them the tools they need to be safe and to make good choices in the world. Our job was to teach them to take care of themselves, and it's their turn now to do just that.
Our job as parents is to make the world a safe place for them to live in.
One way to do that is to fight against legislation that will strip away their fundamental rights and protections or prevent them from being able to participate in activities based on their gender. Advocacy looks like calling and writing your state representatives and congresspeople. You can find a list of your state representatives here and your congresspeople by state here. For a list of bills impacting transgender people, you can check out this page at the ACLU. They keep it updated, and it's sorted by state. You can also view bills brought before the legislation in previous years.
Most senators and congresspeople have forms on their government page that lets you easily input your information and what you are contacting them about. You type your name, address, and then a brief blurb about what you want to say and hit send. You can copy and paste your text if you write to multiple people. If you wish to call, you will usually get a mailbox and be directed to leave a message.
Either way, your words matter. Every message that gets sent is recorded, and the more messages for or against a piece of legislation make people pay attention. If my representatives are already voting in favor of something that benefits my children or against something that harms them, I write and thank them for their excellent work. Every time I get an email back detailing why the work they are doing is important to them.
When our hearts break for the transgender and LGBTQ+ communities, it's easy to fall into despair. Don't give up hope. It's going to be okay.
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