Please note: I originally intended to have this published via the Odyssey; however, until the technical difficulties can be fixed, I’ve decided to share it here.
Update: Here’s the original! Again, this is doubtless full of mistakes, and I’ve got tons to learn, but I hope that regardless of whether you agree or disagree, you can respect this and ALL people.
If you’d like to share this, you can do so by using the clickable links at the top of the article! Thank you so much
Recently I came across the article “My Child Will Not Be Allowed To Be Transgender.” The Odyssey exists and has been built upon the premise of providing a platform upon which anyone can share their thoughts and opinions. As the Odyssey itself puts it, to have our voices heard. Every single one of us is a unique individual, and therefore, we each have a perspective no one else can provide. And as we all have the right to express our thoughts, I decided to do so regarding my own on this offensive, embarrassing, and ignorant article as diplomatically as I could manage. Naturally, people will disagree with my views as well, but I hope that you can treat them with respect, as all humans deserve. It would mean so much to me if you read and shared this! Thank you ❤
To the author of “My Child Will Not Be Allowed To Be Transgender”:
The Odyssey exists and has been built upon the premise of providing a platform upon which anyone can share their thoughts and opinions. As the Odyssey itself puts it, to have our voices heard.
One of the principal purposes of writing for and sharing on a public entity like The Odyssey is to use your voice to create material that provokes thought and incites dialogue. To that end, you have clearly succeeded.
I’m under no false pretenses that everyone is going to have the same thoughts and opinions as one another. Nor that we should; else we wouldn’t have the indispensable opportunity to learn from those around us. According to current approximations, we’re approaching seven and a half billion people on the planet. Every single one of us is a unique individual, and therefore, we each have a perspective no one else can provide.
So, with these things in mind, you set about writing the piece I referenced. It first came to my attention this past week. Like I said earlier, learning from one another is invaluable, so from time to time, I skim through the posts the Odyssey shares. I stumbled across yours, and upon reading the title, already had my qualms. But we oughtn’t judge articles by their covers any more than we do entire novels, so I began to read.
As I stated, the idea that everyone and anyone will agree with everything and anything is ridiculous. I’ve already made a few remarks about your article, and they were a far bit more irate and emotional than what I’m attempting now. But both they and this piece clearly fall under the “anything and everything” umbrella. That said, I’m going to share my thoughts anyways, as you and I and we all have the right to do. Therefore, off we go.
Firstly, your “opinion article” is not opinion.
If we’re going to go strictly by dictionary definitions, “opinion” is generically defined by a Google search as the following: “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.”
From this standpoint, what you’ve written would be opinion. Especially considering the fact that it’s definitely a judgment, and it’s not based on fact. But I digress.
Why do I say it’s not opinion, then? Because instead, it’s a biased belief.
This became evident the moment I read your “disclaimer,” in which you state: “I acknowledge the fact that this article may be incredibly offensive to some, even those that I call friends. However, this article is in NO way saying that I hate transgender/homosexual people. I love and respect them as humans (and friends!), I just simply don’t support their decision. I want to freely express my views and this article happens to hold a view that has recently been quite controversial in American culture.”
A disclaimer in of itself is traditionally used as a means to absolve an author of any responsibility for how their writing is interpreted. It is a factual, objective statement designed, according to Merriam-Webster, “to prevent an incorrect understanding of something (such as a book, a movie, or an advertisement).”
Your “disclaimer” is not factual; it’s dichotomous. You assert that you “love and respect” all people, transgender individuals included. But then you immediately follow that up with “I just simply don’t support their decision.”
To be quite frank, that’s woefully misinformed. If you speak this way about transgender identities, you are not a loving, respectful individual. You are xenophobic. If I’m going to continue with providing dictionary definitions, Merriam-Webster defines xenophobia as “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.” I can see where the mistake comes from; you didn’t want people to label you as hateful. But I’ll immediately take hatred off the table, because I genuinely don’t believe you’re a hateful person. I am, however, unequivocally convinced that you are so fearful of those who are not cisgendered like yourself, you have developed an inherent bias against them.
That’s where I got the “bias” in “biased belief.” The “belief” bit is simple; CSU’s Writing Studio notes that “unlike an opinion, a belief is a conviction based on cultural or personal faith, morality, or values.” Given that your sub-headline is “This is not how God created us to be,” it was pretty obvious to me that your faith is very important to you and had directly informed your feelings on this subject. Thereby, I reiterate: your opinion article is not opinion, it’s a biased belief.
My brow was already a little furrowed, but then I read this: “My child will not be allowed to express themselves as transgender. I will not be the parent who encourages my little boy to wear pink or grow his hair out. I will not be the parent who lets my daughter use the men’s bathroom because she feels uncomfortable in a bathroom with other women. Until they leave my home and my authority, my children will accept and love the biological sex that God ordained for them on the day they were first conceived.”
Let’s dispel one particularly irksome thing about that right now: not all transgender individuals are the same. They’re literally individuals; additionally, just like it’s a gross generalization to lump any group of people into one demented organism, so to is it inappropriate to do it here. Transgender women do not all dye their hair pink, or grow it out. Transgender men do not all use the men’s bathroom, though unfortunately that’s often due to deep-seated panic. My point is that when you begin to apply sweeping stereotypes, your credibility lessens. I’ve noticed we’re both blonde. That doesn’t remotely imply we’re the same.
Because I know it’s the logical next step, I’m aware hair is not equivalent to gender. However, just like we are both blonde, we also both appear to identify as cisgender women. I know I do. Were it not for your thoroughly offensive article, I wouldn’t have begun to assume you were cisgender; that you are has been made quite clear, though.
That still doesn’t make us the same. And here’s the real kicker: that doesn’t make us any more of “women” than it does a transgender woman.
Because I know far more about myself than I would dare to pretend I know about you, I’ll make myself the example here. I’ve grown my hair out from the bowl cut my parents adored when I was little. I enjoy wearing makeup, along with dresses and skirts. And yes, I do physically present the biological markers of a female. So it would seem cogent to conclude I am a woman. And indeed, that is how I express myself and how I identify.
Just a little note here: you wrote, “My child will not be allowed to express themselves as transgender.” Unless you literally tie your child to you and never take your eyes off of them, it is impossible to stop them from doing things like, oh, dying their hair pink, to express themselves. But that’s tangential.
I got really riled up when I read your closing lines: “There is nothing normal about being transgender because human design wasn’t intended to be this way. God created man and woman, not half-man and half-woman. It’s as simple as that.“
Everything is wrong with that. Absolutely everything. Let’s break it down.
As to God: I don’t identify as Christian like you do. I was raised Christian, but as I’ve grown old enough to forge my own path, I’ve realized my beliefs align more with agnosticism. Funny how that works, huh? You choose to identify and express yourself as a Christian. I choose to identify and express myself as agnostic. Faith, or lack thereof, is an identity marker like any other… including, oddly enough, gender.
You believe in God. I believe in God. The difference, the important difference, here, is that I also believe in the validity and normalcy of being transgender.
Those are not dichotomous, even though I’m sure you and many others believe otherwise.
God did not create only “man and woman.” Have you heard of intersex individuals? Because they defy that statement. According to the Intersex Society of North America, “‘intersex’ is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.” These are real, honest-to-God (pun intended) human beings.
Now we’ve arrived at the part of your remark that I cannot and will not let go unchallenged. You are so crass and condescending as to insinuate that those who don’t identify as cisgender are not real, whole people… but “half” man or woman, as if they’re some bizarre centaur amputee.
The transgender population is not made up of “half-men” or “half-women”. Neither is the intersex population. Because gender is not a biological construct. It is a social construct.
Someone who is intersex has an anatomy that doesn’t align with “the status quo”. They are not a monster. They are not lesser. They are a human, just like any other person on earth. And they simply fly in the face of your argument of only “men and women”. They shatter it to bits.
It’s key here to remember that “intersex” and “transgender” are not remotely synonymous. They just both happen to be populations that we set apart from cisgender men and women who genetically and anatomically present as such.
That brings me to something that no faith, no morals, no values, no perceptions, and no prejudices can negate: gender and sex are not equivalent. There are the two main branches of sex, which you appear to have confused with gender; those are “male” and “female”. And then there’s intersex individuals, who don’t land quite squarely in either box. Which isn’t because they’re alien.
It’s because there is no box. There are no boxes when it comes to humankind. That’s part of what being individuals necessitates. Again, because I know myself best, I’ll work with that. My height can be summed up in one word: short. Genetics code for that. Does that mean that when anyone says “short,” I’m the face that pops up? No. My heritage is genetic. When in your life have you heard “Italian,” and magically thought of me, a complete stranger? You haven’t. Nor for my aforementioned hair color or anything else. There is no poster child. Such a concept is ridiculous and naive.
The God I believe in would absolutely not whip out a checklist and start defining who this next child would be. And the science and evolution I believe in doesn’t either, else we’d all be creepy pseudo-clones.
My belabored point, succinctly stated, is that we cannot be greater or lesser than one another when it comes to the fabrics of our identities. There are obviously ways to alter your relative “goodness” or “badness,” but those are not included.
This is something that’s always baffled me about people who think in the misguided way you do. There’s this omnipresent impression that transgender men and women are “confused” or “dangerous” as a direct result of their status, for lack of a better word. Where on earth did that come from? They are not confused. In fact, I think that they can be some of the most certain of who they are. They are willing to endure the disgusting prejudice, bigotry, and oftentimes, violence, that society will inevitably greet them with as a result of their truth. I definitely wouldn’t invite terror like that upon myself just because I felt like it; I’m pretty sure no one would. The confusion lies with you.
As to their somehow being “dangerous,” like it’s some sort of constituent? This is just malicious. Some of the kindest, friendliest, most genuine and caring people I’ve met identify as transgender. Yet they are constantly subjected to revulsion, coldness, spite, and mental and physical abuse. As has been observed in numerous studies, the brain chemistry of a transgender man or women differs from those of their cisgender counterparts. That provides another extremely strong layer to the argument against yours; if you’re so hell-bent on insisting “it’s all in their heads”… well, yes. It quite plainly and scientifically is. What it doesn’t provide is proof that they’re predisposed to be aggressive or threatening.
So where do these stigmatizing, ignorant views come from?
Sadly, your article took this a step further and became a testament to another massively complex and misunderstood issue. And that is mental health.
To this point, I’ve been speaking from personal experience and knowledge, as well as science, observable evidence, and the faith I have. That hardly makes me any sort of authority, especially considering I’m a cisgender female. It’s basically what you did in your piece… minus the science, observable evidence, and personal experience and knowledge not already clouded by bias. Point being, I’ve got an obvious stance when it comes to the crux of your work, but not an intrinsic one. Where I do have an intrinsic stance that is also crystal clear is mental health; specifically, how you painted it in your piece.
You declared, “In my opinion, transgender humans are suffering from a mental illness, in a similar fashion to those fighting sicknesses such as anorexia and depression. If my child ever begins to show symptoms of this, I will help them pursue treatment. They will meet with therapists, counselors and physicians. They will be prayed for night and day. They will be constantly reminded of Jesus and the ultimate joy we can find in knowing him and him alone.”
I have been diagnosed with numerous mental illnesses. They have convoluted and ripped my life apart. For reference, the list includes major depression, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD, which includes social anxiety and panic attacks), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and anorexia nervosa. I’m not proud of them, but I’m also not ashamed of them.
You, in a decision so unfathomable, equated anorexia and depression to expressions of identity, thereby simultaneously demeaning the transgender community and the mentally ill community. You seem to be suffering from the delusion that mental illnesses are “mistakes”; things that were screwed up and render their recipient lesser.
Let me be candid here: The audacity to suggest such a thing is appalling and disgraceful. I don’t believe God saw me and decided he’d make my life hell because he wanted me to suffer. I don’t believe my brain is defective due to the altered way in which it functions. And if you, or anyone else, actually believes either of those things, I have no respect for you.
To have tied mental illness in as you did makes for a mockery of my life and the lives of so many others. You insinuate that bashing anorexic or depressed people like myself, or in this particular case, transgender people, over the head with “treatment” designed to “fix” them is remotely palatable or effective. That if we just remember how much God loves us, it’ll all go away.
I cannot recount to you the number of times I prayed with tears streaming down my face and excruciating pain in my mind to God, or to anyone, to help me. I prayed when I experienced a family death for the first time and became paranoid about my own death. I prayed when my parents divorced because I thought it was my fault. I prayed when I gave into my emotionality since I was sure it made me unlovable. I prayed when my depression had such a hold on me that I couldn’t get up from the floor after I’d knelt down, I was so hysterical. I prayed when my anorexia caused me to skip classes, ignore my friends, and torment myself physically and mentally, so much that I had a massive panic attack and begged to come home for treatment. I prayed when all I did was get even sicker, yet remained unable to see it myself. I prayed when I was so ill and worn out that I could barely hold myself up in a kneeling position. And I pray every night, no matter whether I’ve won or lost the mental battle that day.
God doesn’t take away my struggles. Neither do therapy or doctors’ appointments. Yes, there are means through which I can curb, mitigate, or somewhat control my illnesses. Make no mistake, though, if anyone in my life dared suggest that there was something I could be doing to make things even better, as if I wasn’t truly trying my hardest or was simply dense, they’d never hear the end of it. You finished that massively repugnant paragraph with, “The world has become callous to the serious psychological battle that arises in transgender people, and I want to help my children fight this war, should it ever arise.“
Seriously? “The world has become callous to the serious psychological battle that arises in transgender people”? This was another statement that just left me at a loss.
The world isn’t callous; those who live on it with your warped mindset are. It’s not a psychological battle. It’s a certainty transgender individuals know from their head to their toes.
There’s definitely something admirable in wanting to defend your children. To shield them from harm by doing everything you can.
Here’s the thing: You can’t fight their wars. You’re not a crusader. And when you adopt the mindset that something is wrong with them, you make it hurt more. You make it even more difficult. Be it a mental illness or a differing gender expression, the worst thing you could possibly do is make it out to be something that needs to be “cured”. There’s nothing admirable in shaming your child for who they are, whether you intend to or not.
“I cannot accept a psychological illness as a ‘normal’ part of this world,” you said. I’m not at all sorry to inform you that I don’t need your acceptance. No one does. No one needs anyone else’s acceptance but their own. But that ability is very rarely attained without the support and affirmations of others. Additionally, psychological illnesses are not remotely abnormal. Don’t you dare put anyone without such a struggle on a pedestal above my community. The only abnormality here is your ridiculous premise that who we are makes us broken. We are not broken. We are fabric, like I said earlier. Our fights are entwined right alongside everything else.
My mental illnesses are not going anywhere. They’re stamped on my soul. That’s the thing: you can’t erase a soul. And guess where being transgender is written? On your soul.
And here is what is effective in helping your child grow up to be strong, independent, brave, and proud of who they are: LOVING unconditionally, not with stipulations. LOVING through a struggle, not in spite of it. LOVING without a ridiculous “disclaimer” that your “love” is more than a feeble shadow of what it truly should be. LOVING because your child is LOVE itself.
It’s completely illegitimate to proselytize fear and revulsion under the premise of accepting and loving “everyone” as they are. You can’t make those kind of conflicting statements and convince me your stance is valid or remotely appropriate
Being transgender is not a malfunction. Neither is suffering from a mental illness. What is erroneous is your reprehensible rhetoric and assertions. There’s been points where my health was questionable enough that I could’ve lost my ability to have children. And many transgender individuals will not possess this ability either. To lose that chance is crushing. But whether the child is genetically yours or a beautiful child from another is irrelevant to the irrefutable and binding mandate to love them endlessly. That love I talked about doesn’t know any of this earthly nonsense; it supersedes everything. Should you be fortunate enough to be gifted with a child, I hope with every fiber of my being that you aren’t still addled by your misconceptions and that you’ve learned how to possess and teach that love. May your children grow up however they wish because they don’t subscribe to your attempts to indoctrinate them with delusions; may they be truly themselves by the grace of being loved and loving themselves unequivocally.
Again, these are my thoughts. However, there’s also fact in here. There’s faith. And there’s an open-mindedness and acceptance of which this world sorely needs more. I am far, far from perfect. I have a lot to learn, and a lot of things about which I’m massively incorrect.
This isn’t one of them.
Sincerely, a fellow Odyssey contributor.