FOR A LIVING

“My friend is mad at me.”

Usually when my daughter comes home from school, she ignores me or, at best, answers me in one-word sentences. I knew to run quickly into this open door.

“What happened?” I asked, anticipating her middle-school answers of “She thinks I like this other person” or “I wouldn’t sit with her at lunch” or “We wore the same sweatpants and people thought we matched on purpose.”

“She’s mad at me because I think people who are transgender are normal.”

I wasn’t expecting that. Yes! sang my inner activist-Mom-soul.

“Tell me more,” as I swung the door of conversational opportunity wide open.

“Well, she asked me what you did for a living. I told her you do diversity stuff. She asked what that meant. So, I said that you try to end racism and sexism. I said that you talk to people about privilege and that you try to make the world more fair for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.”

This is awesome. Why? Because when my other daughter was 5-years old, she told people that I did aerobics for a living. I have no idea…

“So my friend said that she thinks transgender people .. and I corrected her and said ‘people who are transgender’ … but anyways, she said that she thinks it’s disgusting and against God.”

“She said it was against God?” I asked. I, myself, had just come from church that afternoon, and that comment hit me in a particular way. “Okay, that sounds interesting. What was your response back to her?”

“Well, I told her that everyone has a right to their religion, but that I was taught that God made us and chose us for a journey that we were meant to have.”

“Wait, wait,” I interrupted. “Can I film this? Because, for real, I think you’re about to drop some serious knowledge and I want other people to see and hear you say this. Can I?”

“No.” There’s the one-word answer I was looking for.

Damn. 

“So, she then said that God doesn’t make mistakes and so if God made you a man you should stay a man.”

I held my breath. I couldn’t believe my 11-year old was having this conversation at lunch.

So, I told her that when I was in your belly, that God gave me cancer. And, when I came out of your belly, I had cancer. And, when I was two years old and finally realized I had cancer, I had to do something or I was going to die. I had to take out my entire eye — an eye that God gave me — so that I could live. If I stayed the way God made me, I would be dead.”

I began to cry. She’s eleven. 

And, I told her about how many young people who are gay have killed themselves because they felt that God made them and that they shouldn’t be gay. And they weren’t accepted by their families. And, they died. If I didn’t change the body that God gave me, I would be dead, too.”

I can’t even….

She continued, “If someone is born in a body that God gave them, but that body isn’t right. Then they might make a choice to change something about their bodies so that they can stay alive. That’s what I had to do. If someone is transgender and they need to be in a different body, then they should do it.”

Okay, then what happened?”

“She said, ‘No. They should just deal with it.’ She got really mad at me and then she walked away. I wasn’t mad at her, but I know I had offended her.”

I couldn’t speak. I was overwhelmed. My heart, my soul, and my spirit were overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by her sadness. Overwhelmed by her compassion. Overwhelmed by how readily she could articulate faith, gender, acceptance, and understanding.

“I’m really sad that she’s mad at me, Mom. I’m sad that she’s mad about me not agreeing with her. I know that you do this kind of stuff for a living, but I am going to do it for my life.”

That’s exactly why I do it, too, Joli.

Peace, love, and brave conversations,

Liza

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7 Responses to FOR A LIVING

  1. georgiakevin says:

    Liza what a beautiful daughter you have, she is already a true lady. I think for her to become the lady she is you Liza must have taught her by your example and by your words what it means to be a true lady the value of treating everyone kindly. Your daughter dismissed the “God doesn’t make mistake” argument so nicely. You but must be incredible ladies.

    • Liza says:

      Thank you so much. I have to admit that this story she told today really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting this level of understanding from her. It warmed my heart and gives me hope that talking so openly about identity is shaping her into a strong, compassionate young person. Thank you for reading and writing!

  2. sillymum says:

    Brava! You and Jorge are doing such a great job as educators and parents. What knowledge and compassion. I can only hope this friend of hers has someone to come home and talk to, someone who can model the compassion that she will need for herself and others. Joli really gave her friend something to think about. That friend, regardless of whether she understands it or not was given a gift today.

  3. mklaub says:

    Wow Liza… I’m speechless. You and Jorge are raising 3 people who are already making this world a better place. They are so thoughtful, brave, wise, and compassionate beyond measure. I know you’ve told her amazing she is, bur please make sure she knows that she is a true hero for so many people (myself included). Jorge needs to create a graphic novel about his super girl 🙂

  4. This is amazing! Yes, it’s painful for her to feel tat rejection, but man, that is one amazing kid! (Can you influence my kids, too?)

  5. Julie M says:

    I’ve said it before Liza, but your kids are going to change the world. She is one fantastic kid – and you are one amazing mom!!!

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