Once people can see, and feel, and absorb issues related to gender identity in popular culture, big changes will come. I’ve said it every time I give a talk. Television and movies allow people, in the privacy of their own home, to wrap their heads around issues that they know nothing about, for good or bad. That’s why it’s so important to have good content about gender identity, especially in kids, out there.
Imagine my surprise when my sister called me about Private Practice, a show I’d never seen, and told me that they aired a show last night about a child trapped in the wrong body. Well, you know how fast I jumped on Hulu to check it out!
This slice of life shows parents who are struggling with their child’s identity, as many parents and extended family do, and although there are things I would have changed (it’s the editor in me) it’s a solid start. No one does this life the same way. We walk different paths, and come to our realities when it’s our time.
My heart says that the best thing we as a society can do is open our hearts and our minds. Whenever possible, we can try to lower the shield of our judgment and let someone else’s story touch us as if we are walking that mile in their shoes.
Can I identify with the angry mom in the story? I don’t want to admit it, but if I’m going to be honest I have to. Maybe not the vehement reaction or the pressure to fit my child into a typical stereotype, but the fear was surely there when Hope started talking about being given the wrong body. Fear about what was happening. Fear about being “sure” before we made any big steps. Fear that I’d make a mistake and hurt my child in some way. I get the fear part, loud and clear.
But then you wake up one morning and silently watch your child as they move about the world and you see what is right there in front of you. Love and the truth trumps fear – always. You just have to summon up the courage to move past fear, and nothing inspires a parent more than the safety, happiness and well-being of their child. Nothing.
Supporting your child, no matter what they are going through, isn’t be easy. It isn’t popular. And it might be hard as hell to explain to others, but you know your child. If you truly listen, the truth is there. Your story doesn’t have to look like this show, or anyone else’s story for that matter. Each authentic path is genuine. It’s the only thing that’s real.
Tonight I sit with gratitude just thinking of the myriad of positive stories flooding into our popular culture related to gender identity and gender diversity. Now that this show aired perhaps it impacted lives across the country. Maybe someone out there better understands why their child/ grandchild fights when asked to wear a dress, or a suit. Maybe a child better understands how they can talk with their parent or teacher or friend. Maybe people who sat in judgment can see that they are just kids, same as anyone else.
I hope for a day that we don’t have to remind people that the suicide rates are 5 times greater for gender diverse kids than the national average… because these stories are saving lives.