Letter to Ivanka

From a concerned parent, just like you.

with my two daughters

Dear Ivanka,

My name is Isabel Rose and I bet if we played a quick game of Six Degrees of Separation we would discover many mutual acquaintances. This shouldn’t come as a suprise. After all, we are both from prominent New York real estate families, we both attended private all-girls schools and went on to earn degrees from Ivy League colleges, and we both married smart Jewish men and now have young children. And I suspect, from the photos you share on your Instagram feed, that we also share a love of motherhood and would do anything to ensure the happiness and security of our kids.

When our second child was born, my husband and I rejoiced, just as I’m sure you and Jared did when each of your children were born. We already had a daughter and were thrilled to add a son to our growing brood. We named him Samuel and took him home from the hospital with hearts filled with anticipation and love.

Samuel liked to play dress up from a very young age. When he was two, his camp counselor sent us photos of him dressed up in princess costumes and a pink bonnet. At three, Samuel’s preschool teacher informed us that he chose a tutu from the dress up bin instead of the doctor’s lab coat or fireman jacket that the other boys favored. By four, Samuel broke out in hives when we tried to cut his hair, and at five he told us, through tears, that he wanted to burn his face off because it wasn’t a girl face. He also tore at his genitalia with such hatred, I had to pin his arms down at his sides. “I’m not supposed to have a penis!” he sobbed night after night. “I’m supposed to have what you have, mommy.”

Ivanka, when I saw that photo you posted recently of you and your five-year old daughter at the Supreme Court, I could tell you would have done exactly what I did next because you are a mother who wants her children to feel empowered. Yes, you, too, would have sought professional help. And I know you would have wept in relief, like I did, when you realized your child wasn’t doomed to a lifetime of misery but was simply transgender.

Just before his sixth birthday, our Samuel became our Sadie, and we watched a butterfly break free from a chrysalis. Naturally, it was not what my husband or I had imagined when we held our infant son in our arms and uttered the phrase, “That’s our boy!” Naturally, we went through a period of adjustment. But we always knew that our priority was our child’s happiness. And that is exactly what we have today: a happy child.

Indeed, our once-miserable son is now our thriving second grade daughter at one of New York City’s top public schools. She wants to be a scientist and a doctor when she grows up so she can figure out how girls like her can become mothers using their own bodies. She takes piano lessons and likes to rock climb and go to museums, loves all the colors and shades of the rainbow, and her favorite flavor ice cream is mint chocolate chip.

What about your children, Ivanka? What do they want to be when they grow up? What do they do after school? What is their favorite flavor ice cream? Who are they beneath the trappings of their anatomy? Are they, like my child, a pure vessel of wonder and potential and love?

I bet they are.

And I bet that if you were me, you would be as proud as I am of my brave Little Miss!

And I also bet if you were me, you would be greatly dismayed if you found out that the government chose to rescind protections for transgender students that allow them to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity instead of their anatomy. Like me, you would look at your ultra-feminine 8-year-old, standing on the street corner waiting for the school bus, her already-elegant head held high, pink bow quivering in the wind, and you would say to yourself, “What on earth will my little princess do if someone forces her to go to the bathroom with the boys? She’ll be mortified! She’ll be bullied! She’ll be scared.”

Ivanka, put yourself in my Jimmy Choos. What would you do if you were me?

Because I know exactly what I would do if were you: I would take my father aside and explain that failing to protect innocent children’s rights to use the bathroom of their choice is wrong and unfair and un-American. I would point out that removing protections for transgender kids is a distraction from the myriad of other super-pressing issues facing our country. And I would also mention that picking a fight with school kids is an act of bullying and gently mention that bullying is uncool, especially when unprovoked, which is the case here.

If you have any questions, or want to sit down with me and meet my two daughters and husband, we’d be more than happy to have you over the next time you’re in NYC, or come to DC to meet you.

In the meantime, I truly thank you for taking the time to consider this matter from my perspective.

In good faith,

Isabel Rose

Standing together as a family for the values we cherish