The past few days all media has been talking about #LeelahAlcorn, the Ohio teen who committed suicide after her Christian Parents refused to support her trans life, instead, rigidly and unbendingly referring to her as her male name and male pronouns, offering Christian therapists that denounced her as ‘selfish and evil’. This is the same reaction that many LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) teens are faced with after coming out to their parents. Parents just do not want to accept who their child is, rather than accept that the reality they had previously chosen had been shattered like Alice’s Looking Glass.
My Mother was an exception to the norm, living in one of the Buckles of the Conservative Christian Religious Right Bible Belt. She loved me like she loved everyone: Unconditionally. She always said God told her to love her neighbor, not judge them, for that was His job, not Hers. She let me be who I was, didn’t try to change, judge or belittle me. And I always knew she loved me, no matter what happened in life.
As a child, like Leelah, I knew I was different than the other little boys in the two-room school house I was in. I also knew to keep my mouth shut about it, to never tell anyone and keep it to myself. I know a few readers may be thinking “Ah, you were a little gay boy, I bet you played with dolls!”, giving yourself a satisfied, selfish smile.
Guess what: I did. I played with my teddy bear I got to accompany me during hospital stays, I played with Raggedy Andy, a Dopey doll Mom made. I dressed them up, I sat them in rows to teach them ABCs. I even stole doll clothes from cousins for them (sorry gals).
Guess what: I also played with toy guns, playing cowboys/Indians or cops/robbers with my brother. I remember the little silver cap gun, shooting the strips of gunpowder. I remember the hip holster clearly, I even had cowboy boots I wore until they fell apart. One Christmas I got a big red firetruck that I loved more than anything. It was 2 feet long, almost as big as me, the ladders came off and the top ladder extended and swiveled. I would save my dolls in make believe fires.
How did Mom react? She didn’t. She just let me be me. She let me play with dolls one day and fire the toy gun the next day. I wasn’t confused and I didn’t need ‘fixing’.
All I needed was unconditional love. Like Leelah.