Why Can’t The World Love My Gender-Fluid Child As Much As I Do?
Mom, can we talk?
Late at night, it’s always late at night
I sit on the bed and brace myself
A failed grade, a dent in the car
What could make my silly one, my laughing one,
my child with the sparkling eyes
Look so serious?
Mom, I’m gender fluid.
My first, uneducated reactions:
No Surprise. Surprise.
They flood me simultaneously.
I think back on how she shunned pink and
How she preferred Bionicles to Barbies
Casting off all the meaningless trappings
Of what we are told it means to be a girl.
I thought she was the coolest kid ever,
(I still do, even though she thoughtlessly grew up)
Bucking the gender stereotypes like
The good feminist I raised her to be.
Old hat to her, this is still new to me.
I shock my ally self as some ancient Binary slime
(You are either a he or a she,
It says, having been born in another time)
Conjures up my fight or flight instinct.
But this is my beloved child facing me,
with all the courage in the world, it seems.
So I suck it up and I stick. I stay.
Because if she can do this, I must, too.
I must fight through the ancient Binary slime.
Mom will always be there for you. I PROMISED.
Long ago, when I peeled you off my leg
As your pre-school teacher pulled you to her
I promised that even if I went away
Mom would always come back.
So here I sit. I will always come back.
But the Binary, before I can stop it
Makes the words tumble out of my mouth,
“How can you be both?”
Mom, it’s not really both. More like neither.
Keep talking, it’s getting clearer to me
It’s not for me to question but to grow.
Keep talking so everyone can hear you
This is nothing and this is everything
To those who are Neither.
To those who are Other.
To those who Love “Differently,” as if Love
Can be boxed up into Right Way and Wrong.
I nod and I smile and tell her
That I love her No Matter What, because
No Matter What is the only kind of
Love I could possibly give to my child.
My thoughts flash to an old friend whose parents
Were terribly bereft of No Matter What.
My heart broke for him then and it breaks now
To think that he could not be who he was
To think that those meager of acceptance
Would cast out their precious child because
How Things Must Be is more important than
How I Can Grow. How I Can Help My Child.
Mom, please don’t call me “she.” Please call me “they.”
OK, that one shatters my writer’s brain
Words are my bag. Words are my living.
Somewhere deep amongst the Ally brain cells,
An old Binary mutters “‘They’ is a plural.”
Not anymore, Mom. Isn’t it wonderful how language evolves to help people?
I can’t argue with them on that.
They are wiser than me.
Mom, why are you crying? I’m still the same person inside I always was.
I know you are, sweetheart — although the words
Haven’t left my mouth. They deserve the words.
I see you, with your bright eyes
And your beautiful smile.
And your infectious laugh.
And your indomitable spirit.
And your intense creativity.
And above all, your generous heart.
And here I am, the wordsmith
Struggling to find the words to explain to them
What is so overwhelming to me
That the tears won’t stop falling.
The words are buried deep down
inside a Mom’s heart
Where words don’t exist.
Will my child be accepted?
Will they be loved?
Will they find someone who will treasure them the way I do?
Will they be safe? Stonewall. Orlando.
Please, I beg you all, keep them safe.
They are gentle enough to hold a delicate soap bubble in their hands.
Brave enough to overcome their fears.
The very first to pick up a fallen friend.
Qualities that make them a good person
Qualities that make them valuable to the world.
I make my own transition,
Out of the ancient Binary
And fully into the world of acceptance and Love.
No Matter What.
The alternative would be unthinkable.
The alternative would cause them pain.
They had the audacity to grow up into the
Coolest nonbinary adult I know.
They are my beloved child.