Hi ED Pollak, thanks for taking the time to read and respond. I can only speak for myself, not for all trans advocates, but here’s the thing: parents of trans kids often become advocates by default. It’s not something we willingly and joyfully signed up for, or even imagined ourselves capable of.
We become advocates out of necessity, Ed, not out of desire. And we end up becoming public because, well, there’s no way to be a silent advocate for a vastly misunderstood population.
By its very nature, advocacy is a public and vocal job. Also, by its very nature, gender is public, not private (I’m not talking here about genitals; I’m talking about the outward gender expression that all of us have and present to the public). A person — especially someone who’s younger — can’t exactly transition genders and have no one notice. So the thing is, all of this is by nature a public endeavor. On many accounts.
As for me, I’m generally happy to answer genuine questions from people who are genuinely interested in learning (after years of experience, it’s pretty easy to discern the difference).
That said, I’m also only human, and from time to time I do get tired of answering the same questions, over and over and over again — especially when they’re questions I (and many other parents of trans youth) have already thoroughly addressed across many other forums.
From time to time, I do grow weary of passive aggressive comments, backhanded compliments, microaggressions, judgments and just-barely hidden insults, on top of straight up accusations of harm or “child abuse” — from people who know nothing about me, let alone, trans people.
And from time to time, I do begin to question the motives of some people who ask certain types of questions, just as I did in this piece.
You say I implied these “internet strangers have no standing to worry or comment” re: my situation. This is simply not true. I never said they don’t have the right to do so. What I did say (and what I am asking) is for them to more thoroughly consider the motive that might be behind this one particular question, namely, the one I asked in the last sentence.
You also said that I “need to remember (I) opened the door to allow those worriers into (my) life,” and that I’m “now stuck with the annoying consequences.”
That sounds an awful lot like victim blaming, Ed. Just because someone is a public advocate doesn’t mean they have to lie down and give up all of their own rights. It doesn’t mean they have to accept the fate of not-so-well-meaning and obtrusive, invasive questions. It doesn’t mean they have to accept targeted harassment, verbal abuse, and even death threats. Being public doesn’t magically turn you a superhero who’s immune from human emotion, nor does it exclude you from the very normal feeling of getting fed up with repetitive instances of willful ignorance.
Regardless, I’ll take dealing with “the annoying consequences” of being a public advocate any day over being a parent who lives in fear and denial over the fact that they have a trans kid — a trans kid who is so unaccepted that they end up taking their own life. The annoying consequences are indeed a small price to pay in exchange for a healthy, happy, living trans kid.