I am very grateful for the time you took to lay all of this out. It’s refreshing to see it and read it and not feel like I am an a**hole for asking questions. In my circle of friends, I am close several trans-folk (is that a term? could it be?), two of whom I knew before transition and one who I met after her transition. They are people who I greatly respect and honor. They have each been extremely generous about allowing me, a cis-girl, to ask very awkward questions about their lives and their paths. I have to believe they honor that because a) they know I Love them, and b) because I am wanting to get beyond acceptance and into understanding (which is a process).
Unfortunately, there are other transgender in my circle who have been equally mean, nasty, viciously attacked and publicly insulted me for asking questions. They have have told me I have no right to ask questions, and that no cis person could ever be a true ally. This is so painful to witness and to experience because I do not have any inclination toward “correcting, curing or fixing,” mostly because it doesn’t matter to me what people do as long as they are happy and so long as they are not purposefully hurting others. This goes for my Republican friends, too *wink* . I also recognize that “hurting others” is not about them being trans, it’s about them being heartbroken and angry.
I feel like the bridge to understanding is to assume that cis or curious people are doing their best, and to respond to them that way (goes both ways, of course). It’s also not fair to assume that cis people are all, by virtue of being cis, “The Enemy,” (as I have been told we are). Informing people is never going to be a bad idea, and doing so with grace even when others lack such grace, is never going to work against a person, ultimately. It’s a form of non-violent communication, I think. I do my best, when framing questions, to make my audience aware that I am ignorant but want to not be ignorant. The only way through that is to get answers to my awkward questions, including letting me know that I just asked a really awkward question (which can, by some, be seen as offensive), and inviting my listener to correct me. For a lot of cis people, this is a whole new language.
I also feel like the children part is very sensitive and deeply complex. I think you’re correct, gender-affirmation is the way to go. But I think ALL kids need this. Gender norms affect all people as restrictive, but it’s “normal,” so we accept it. Pink girls and blue boys is a huge mistake, right outta da womb. Trucks and dolls and kitchens and big wheels…let kids pick out their toys, and shut off the damn TV. The gender-roles in culture are difficult enough and hormones and identity are hard enough without the media pressures. I’m pretty sure this is why my kids are comfortable knowing they are on the sexual spectrum: we didn’t do gender-based learning, toys, TV, etc. They are happy, open-minded, “all-one” kids. As happy with a hammer as they are with a spatula; as skillful with a sewing machine as they are changing oil. We cuddle with anyone worthy of a cuddle, regardless of anatomy or identity. Being kind is the highest virtue.