If you love them, their gender identity and sexuality won't matter.
I recently met a nineteen-year-old young man who lives with his grandmother. We'll call him John. He's lived with his grandmother since he was seven due to the death of both his parents. John is transgender and his grandmother does not approve.
More than a year ago John asked his grandmother to start referring to him with different - more appropriate - pronouns as well as a different name. She refused. She stated it was disrespectful to John's mother because she made him, named him, and is now gone.
Does anyone else see how much of a guilt-trip this is? How manipulative this is? How this would never be said out of love?
Affirming gender identity among transgender and nonbinary youth is consistently associated with lower rates of suicide attempts. - The Trevor Project
I'll never understand why allowing your kid to use different pronouns or a different name is such a big deal to some parents. Supporting your kid with such a request only shows them how much you care. And it causes no harm to anyone.
Of course, John's grandmother's unsupportive - and unloving - nature doesn't stop there. A year later, John asks again if she would call him by his preferred name and pronouns. She promptly tells him he needs to move out.
I have to believe that John's grandmother simply doesn't understand the impact she's having on his mental health. It's much too heartbreaking to think she does understand and that she's just that heartless and cruel. Maybe one day she'll realize what an extraordinary young man he is - clever, creative, and kind - and apologize for her misunderstanding and mistreatment.
It's obvious to me that John will be better off without his grandmother's negativity, criticism, and lack of acceptance. But I can see how much it hurts John as well. That's his grandmother who's raised him for years, his last tie to the mother he lost at such a young age.
My heart breaks for John and his predicament. Why would his grandmother treat him like this? Why is her vision of him more important than what he's telling her is in his heart?
It's going to take John some time to heal from this. But he's smart and brave and looking toward a brighter future. A future where he can live as his most authentic self.
He's found himself a therapist who will help him on his journey. And he's surrounded himself with supportive friends. I have doubts he'll eventually have his own chosen family who will love and accept him as he is.
Thinking about John's future makes me happy and hopeful. Thinking about his present has me dumbfounded and angry.
Every year in the U.S., over two million kids will face homelessness. About 40% of these kids identify as LGBT. - DoSomething.org
Sometimes I wish I could understand why some parents believe having a homeless kid is better than having a gay one - or trans, or queer, or nonbinary.
But I suppose my actual wish is that these folks would understand why they shouldn't kick their kids out solely based on gender or sexuality. I wish they could understand how absurd their reasoning is.
LGBTQ+ youth disproportionately experience homelessness because they are at high risk for family rejection, physical and sexual assault, trauma, mental health issues, and substance use disorders. We need to do better for them. We need to provide safe, supportive, and loving environments for these kids.
If your kids are part of the LGBTQ+ community, they need your support, acceptance, and love. Save your judgment and criticism for someone else who actually deserves it - you know, like murderers, rapists, bullies, racists, and psychopaths.
Gender and sexuality are not choices anyone makes. A person is born cisgender, transgender, nonbinary, gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, asexual - whatever.
The only choice your LGBTQ+ kid makes is whether or not to tell you who they truly are. If they choose to share their authentic individuality with you, they're trusting you to love them no matter what they say.
As a parent, it is your job to love them, to support them, to care what the hell happens to them. If you choose to kick out your kid based on how they identify, you have failed as a parent because you don't care what happens to them. Your kid deserves better.
Every kid deserves better than that.