Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Coming Out: Is It A Good Idea During The Holidays?

Chances are you may see your relatives on few occasions.  Thanksgiving may be one of them.  Christmas may be the other.  You don’t want to upset the tone of the holidays by injecting a life-altering announcement that will either elicit a million questions or silence your guests who are unprepared for such news.  The news may not sit as well as the turkey.
You don’t want to usurp and undermine the holiday with your coming out news or embarrass your relatives who thought your boyfriend was just a “friend” in the past.  ( However, if your straight child has a “significant other,” show as much interest in your LGBT child’s love interest. ) For both straight parents and LGBT children, you should come out on your own timetable when you can focus on each other, not when you are busy delumping the gravy, carving the turkey, opening gifts, answering phone calls, and tending to possibly small children.  Most holiday traditions do not include coming out.
So, when is a good time to come out?
·      When the teller and the news recipient aren’t distracted.
·      When the announcement allows time for conversation afterwards.
·      When the parent and child are relaxed.
·      When it is a private conversation.
What Do You Gain By Telling?
Before coming out, an LGBT child should weight the pros and cons.  Before sharing the news, it’s helpful to review questions that you think your parents or loved ones will bombard you with and prepare your responses.  Of course, you don’t owe answers to anyone.  Your parents and other relatives may hug you an express unconditional love and support, hopefully.
Or, if they are adamantly opposed to same-sex love and have voiced this view, skip the revelation.  If you think you could be banished from your house, I wouldn’t tell them until you are financially independent.  As not all coming outs go well at first anyway, parents may try to guilt trip you or change your mind.  Take this into consideration. 
Anyhow, it’s the child’s story.  If you know in advance that your child is LGBT, make sure you first obtain permission from him before he divulges the information to relatives and friends.  Your child may want you to be the messenger.
What Not To Say To Your LGBTQ Child at Thanksgiving
On the website, writer Alyse Knorr suggests the following:
·      Do not ask your child if they’ve “changed their mind” about their LGBTQA identity. This is not a “phase.”
·      Do not introduce your child’s significant other as their “friend.” Don’t deny the relationship or ignore it.  Ask our child what you should call their “significant other” when introducing that person to family and friends.  Make sure your child doesn’t out his partner before his “main squeeze” is ready to come out.
·      Do not call your child by any names or pronouns other than their preferred chosen name and pronouns. If you flub, apologize and say that you are trying to keep up with the new identity.
·      Do not attempt to set them up with someone. Anyone.  This will not change their mind and who knows better than your child whom he wants to date?
·      Do not ignore the election.  While politics are usually a no-no at the dining table, if Trump’s rescindment of LGBT rights rears its ugly head, you should assure your child that you are the best ally and will have his back.
No holiday is perfect, but these suggestions may make for a more comfortable holiday for everyone, especially the LGBT child.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

It’s National Transgender Awareness Week, Nov. 13-17

Did you know that:
·      The F.B.I. released hate crime statistics for 2016 and highlighted the ongoing epidemic of anti-transgender violence in the U.S.
·      In 2016, advocates tracked 23 deaths of transgender people in the United States.
·      One in every 137 teenagers in the United States identifies as transgender.
In our schools, transgender students don’t feel safe. As reported by the Williams Institute,
·      75% of transgender students felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression.
·      70% of transgender students said they avoided bathrooms because they felt uncomfortable.
·      60% of transgender students had been required to use a bathroom or locker room that did not match the gender they live every day.
States don’t protect them because:
·  Only 13 states and D.C. have education on discrimination laws explicitly protecting transgender students.
·      The U.S. Dept. of Education recently withdrew guidance to states on how to support number of trans students under Title IX of Federal Civil Rights Act.  Title IX ensures that all students can attend school safely regardless of their race or ethnicity, national origin, religion or sex. 
Although the first transgender woman Danica Roem elected to the House of Delegates in Virginia beat a man Robert Marshall (R) who held the office for twenty-four years, her victory doesn’t mean the rest of the country will embrace transsexuals.  Roem centered her campaign around issues that mattered to all people: commuter traffic, importance of teacher pay, Medicaid expansion, while her opponent focused on her gender identity.
It seems as if the U.S. as well as the rest of the world don’t understand transgender people and get terms  mixed up that would have enlightened them.  For example, gender identity is separate from sexual orientation. Gender is a function of culture and about self-expression.  Sexuality is whom you are attracted to.  There are transgender women that are attracted to cisgender (same gender) women.
“People argue that trans women are not genetically female despite the fact that we can’t readily ascertain anybody’s sex chromosomes,” says author of  Whipping Girl,  Julia Serano

Here are Some Perceptions of Transgenders:: Which Ones do you think are True? From
·      There is something wrong with transsexual people.
·      Transgender people are confused or tricking others.
·      Sexual orientation is linked to gender identity.
·      Letting trans people use the bathroom or locker room matching their gender identity is dangerous.
·      Transitioning is as simple as surgery.
·      All trans people medically transition.
·      Transgender-inclusive health care is expensive.
·      Children aren’t old enough to know their gender identity.
·      Transgender people are mentally ill.
·      Transgender people make up a third gender.
·      Drag queens and kings are transgender.
None are true.  The transgender community is diverse and has been around a long time.  Cross-dressers are not necessarily the same as trans genders.  One important distinction that trans genders have is that their gender identities definitely vary from the labels that were given to them as babies. This statement is true.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November is National Adoption Month

I have two adopted children: a son, born in 1983, and a daughter, born in 1988.  Both were closed adoptions of infants through a well-known adoption agency in Manhattan. I have little medical information about the birthparents from my son’s adoption and precious little from my daughter’s adoption. I’m not sure it would have been a deciding factor to withdraw our applications anyway. 
Why? Because you never know what you’re going to inherit in the gene pool even if your children are biological.  I didn’t adopt for altruistic reasons.  We adopted because I was infertile and knew it before we married.

I have witnessed the joys and frustrations of parenthood over the years just as my friends with biological children have.  Because my son is gay, I have interest in LGBT issues and recently read Eric Rosswood’s excellent book The Ultimate Guide for Gay Dads ( Mango, 2017). 

In a chapter entitled “Questions You Might Get Asked and How to Respond to Them,” I am reminded that we were asked similar questions about our family:

·     “Why Did She Give Him/Her Up?  I Could Never Give Up A Child.”
·     “How Did You Get Him/Her/Them?”
·     “Where Did You Get Him/Her/Them?”
·     “Who Are His Real Parents?”
·     “How Much Did He/She Cost?”

I realize that the author and his husband Matt get more intrusive questions such as “where’s the child’s Mother?” because they are in a same-sex marriage. My children have an adoptive Mother and Father and we’re all Caucasian so we can pass as a biologically- related family.

In Rosswood’s chapter, he lists responses from gay friends that can be applied to certain questions, depending whether you want to educate the inquisitive, just tell them enough to shut them down or slay them a witty retort.  All these answers have to be executed without implying to your child that adoption is shameful while protecting his privacy.

It seems that the outside world has not caught up with the phenomena of motherless or fatherless ) households as gay parents parent through adoption, foster care, and surrogacy.
However, as Eugenia Doubtfire explained to his television audience toward the end of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” families are formed in different ways and they all legitimate and reflective of modern society.  Adoption is just one way of creating a loving family.