The Helpers

I haven’t been posting regularly.  October was a tough month.  It truly beat me down.  Early in October, the story about a transgender girl in Virginia, who was barred from seeking shelter in both locker rooms at her school during an active shooter drill, made headlines.  I was disheartened by the obvious message, that a transgender student’s life is valued less than the lives of students who identify as the sex they were assigned at birth, sent by the school district.  A few weeks later, the memo about the current administration’s plan to “erase” transgender people, by narrowing the definition of gender to sex assigned at birth, thereby rolling back protections for transgender people under civil rights law, was “leaked.”  I’m not going to lie to you friend, it’s hard to write through tears, and I’ve shed plenty this past month.

On November 8, 2016, I stayed awake into the wee hours of the following morning to watch election results.  I stayed in the guest room so as not to disturb my husband, who had a flight to catch early the next day.  Heather came into the room around 1 a.m. with tears in her eyes.  She had been watching the election results on her phone. “Mom, I’m scared,” she told me.  “It’ll be okay,” I reassured her, as I led her back to her room and encouraged her to get some sleep.  Months earlier, I had confessed to my therapist that I cried every day because I was afraid of Heather being physically harmed, emotionally harmed, and discriminated against.  The therapist told me that I couldn’t project my fears onto Heather.  I remembered this as she stood before me in the early morning hours after Election Day.  So, I lied to her.  After she returned to her bedroom, I began to cry.  I was scared too.  I saw everything that has transpired over the last two years, clear as day, in the early hours of November 9, 2016.  I’m sad that more people didn’t have my foresight.  Or, perhaps, they did, and this is the America they wanted.  In which case, I’m even more sad.

A few weeks ago, I attended a queer youth conference at a local university.  One of the sessions was led by parents from PFLAG Charlotte, so, of course, I didn’t want to miss it!  At lunch, I ran into a woman who I volunteer with at a local soup kitchen.  She said hello and let me know she was attending the conference as an ally.  I let her know that I have a transgender daughter and I was attending with some friends from PFLAG.  She mentioned that she was not aware I had a transgender daughter. “Yep,” I replied.  I thanked her for being an ally and went on my way.  I followed up with an email thanking her again for her support of the LGBT community.  Finding out that someone I know is an ally always lifts my spirits!

In times of crisis and disaster, I’ve seen a quote by Fred Rogers surface on social media.  Whenever there was something scary happening, Fred Rogers, the late host of the children’s television show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, said his Mom would tell him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”  In the weeks following the “leaked” memo announcing the government’s plan to “erase” transgender people, I am seeing “the helpers.”  Companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple are speaking out in support of transgender people and the LGBT community.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has published a guide for treating transgender children.  Locally, I am continually amazed by the efforts of PFLAG Charlotte to build awareness and advocate for LGBT students in the greater Charlotte area.  Additionally, I have joined the Board of an LGBT outreach non-profit being established in my community.

I know I will continue to shed tears but seeing “the helpers” and being one of “the helpers” fills my heart with hope.  Make no mistake, there is a battle ahead for my child’s rights.  However, I am confident that my daughter and the transgender community #wontbeerased.  Not if I can help it.

Guess what?!  You can help too!  It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on.  Write your congressperson.  Write your state senator.  Tell them you support equal rights for all people, including the LGBT community, and you expect them to do the same.  Do one thing from the list 52 Things You Can Do For Transgender Equality. And most importantly, VOTE.  If you like the direction our country is headed, vote like you normally would.  If you are unhappy with the direction our country is headed, vote differently.  Whether or not you vote is public record.  Who you vote for, regardless of your declared party affiliation, is confidential.

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