My childhood experience with gender dysphoria was almost exclusively defined by a problem of omission. I had no vocabulary for my feelings. “Sad” and “angry” and “confused” were woefully inadequate. At no point in my public education was the idea of gender variance even mentioned. I drifted through most of my adolescence never hearing the word “transgender,” operating from all the usual chains that unquestioned cissexism attaches to a person’s view of the world, miserable with no way out.
It was difficult, but largely blameless. I am in the minority of trans people who have the support of their parents. And I don’t mean scare-quotes “support,” I mean my parents did their homework and show a genuine effort to respect this aspect of who I am. And as a consequence, their support, both financial and emotional, has enabled me to become a considerably healthier and more resilient adult, one who has avoided homelessness and the worst that often happens to trans folk.
My research has me stumbling upon a child who has no such fortune, whose situation angers me so deeply it sinks like an anchor into the deep. It shakes me to my core. And it hurts. Fuck, does it ever hurt, in a way that only a perfect storm of transphobia could.
I hope that I can finish this article, but in brief: A gender questioning child’s parents divorced. The child’s questioning grew to be a major factor in their life. The mother, having primary custody, followed the doctor’s orders and allowed the child to explore their gender.
The father claimed this was child abuse and disputed custody. Not only did this work, stripping the mother of her custodial rights, but the judge mandated that the child could no longer be permitted to question their gender and would be forced to live as a boy.
This, in the United Kingdom. This isn’t even some far away country with no legal or social influence over my home. It’s right here.
The system has failed them, in one of the most visceral ways I can imagine. This child’s journey is not blameless. They don’t have the benefit of acknowledging the unfortunate consequences of mere ignorance. They have been directly wounded, pierced through the heart, by prejudice. Will they know who gave them their scars?
Knowing the single strongest predictor for a healthy and resilient trans person is supportive parents, my heart just breaks knowing what this court sentenced this child to.
I am lucky. Stupidly lucky. I get to escape the worst transphobia has to offer, and the biggest support to that end is my parents.
I just. There is no way I can imagine what it would be like to know the love a parent has to offer, only for the courts to decide it was pathological. To know the relief of my truth, only for the courts to sentence me to subordination at one who would smother it. To know that my health and happiness is so unconscionable that the courts would rather sentence me to hate and pain. I would join the statistics, I don’t doubt.
And fuck, does it hurt.