Thursday, October 20, 2011

Controversy Compounded: Lesbian Couple Raising Transgender Child

This is a cross post from Matt of Transfesto

Matt Kailey is a transman living in Denver, Colorado, and an author, public speaker, and trainer on transgender issues. He blogs at Tranifesto. In his ideal world, no one would be equal to anyone else – everyone would just be equal.  

Could we not anticipate the brouhaha? Even when a “nice,” “normal,” “perfectly acceptable” heterosexual couple recognizes that their child is trans and decides to takes steps to make the child’s life as comfortable as possible as soon as possible, they are blasted by all manner of folk who really need to be worried about their own children instead. But add “lesbian” to that mix and there is going to be hell to pay.
 
Same-sex couple Pauline Moreno and Debra Lobel say that their adopted child, who is now known as Tammy, has claimed that she is a girl since the age of three and threatened to mutilate her (standard male) genitals at the age of seven. The child is now eleven, and Moreno and Lobel have followed the accepted path when dealing with trans children – making sure that Tammy got therapy, consulting with doctors, and finally putting Tammy on hormone treatment to delay male puberty, giving Tammy more time to make sure that this is the right path for her.

Of course, the right wing is up in arms, saying that Tammy is too young to make this “decision,” accusing the couple of child abuse, and posting the story all over the Internet, with the loudest and most hostile accusations hurled by those who are soooo concerned about Tammy’s welfare that they want to make an online spectacle of her. Sorry, but in my opinion, showing concern for a child doesn’t include posting the child’s photos and trashing her parents all across the worldwide web.

But we in the community are used to this nonsense. It happens any time it comes to light that a parent is attempting to act in the best interests of his or her transgender child. This firestorm would be raging no matter what – but it is compounded by the fact that Tammy’s parents are lesbians.


Along with the typical child abuse allegations, there have been additional accusations that Moreno and Lobel are doing this because they are lesbians and want a female child. Never mind that they have two older children who are male and are apparently perfectly happy with that birth assignment, as are the couple. Never mind that, if they really wanted a female child, they could have adopted a female child. Never mind that Tammy has demonstrated her gender identity since the age of three, which is a highly typical age for any gender identity to make itself known. Never mind that Moreno and Lobel have followed all procedures with regard to seeking out professional advice and following professional recommendations. Somehow, their being lesbians is all that the critics want to jump on.


For those who are oh, so concerned about Tammy, her lesbian parents, and the decisions that are being made, consider this:

  •  Most people become aware of their gender at about age three or four. If, at age eleven, Tammy is “too young” to know what gender she is, then so are your children. If your six-year-old child with a “standard” female body says that she’s a girl, how does she know for sure? How do you know? If your twelve-year-old child with a “standard” male body insists that he’s a boy, is he certain about that? Are you? If Tammy is too young to know that she’s a girl, then maybe your children with traditional body/identity alignment are too young to know who they are as well. Now what do we do?

  • When you adopt a child or when you give birth to a child, you are never certain what you are going to “get.” Trans children are out there. Some might even be waiting to be adopted. Tammy could have just as easily been adopted by a heterosexual couple and, hopefully, they would have followed the same informed and cautious path that Moreno and Lobel did.

  • Coming to terms with the fact that their child is trans is no easier for Moreno and Lobel than it is for a heterosexual couple. I know a lot of lesbians, and many know as little about trans issues as straight people do. Moreno and Lobel’s sexual orientation does not give them any special insights, nor does it have any influence on what decisions they will make for Tammy, other than the fact that they might be a little more versed in what it’s like to face discrimination and hatred due to ignorance. Because of this, they will hopefully be able to provide Tammy with the support she needs when she is faced with the bigotry that is already being spewed across the Internet.
The fact that Moreno and Lobel are lesbians has nothing to do with the situation at hand. The fact that they are informed, insightful, aware, and caring parents has everything to do with it. I wish them the best of luck.


Readers?