To me the world is full of shades of gray. There are many issues which become blurred under the complexities associated with them–where clarity is difficult. Reading about Bruce Jenner’s struggle and ultimate transition to Caitlyn Jenner is one of them, and I can’t begin to comment on it-except for one thing.
When I was writing my book, The Missing Pages of the Parent Handbook, I had the opportunity to interview a parent who has a transgendered child. He shared with me the struggles that they faced navigating a world where hatred prevails from children and adults. He did not want his child to become a suicide statistic either as a youth or later as an adult (22-43% transgender people have attempted suicide*). I was so moved by his story and the complexities and challenges his family faced- most specifically the concern for the safety of their child from both self-harm and the possibility of emotional or physical harm enacted by others.
In many cases the stories I shared in the book were modified to protect the identities of the families involved. This was done more for privacy than out of a concern that if exposed, they could be subjected to harm or injury. When reviewing the story he shared, we realized that there was no way I could alter enough of the details of the story to keep it “truthful” but still be sure that this child, who was living under a gender different than the birth gender, would be safe. I didn’t think I could live with myself if something happened and so, to protect the child, we decided it was better not to include it.
The one thing that I can say with complete certainty is that all people—especially children—deserve compassion, love, and a life free of prejudice, degrading insults and harm. This is the type of world I want my children to live in. Call it idealistic, but I believe it can happen and the change for future generations begins with ours.
* Bauer, G. R., Scheim, A. I., Pyne, J., Travers, R., & Hammond, R. (2015). Intervenable factors associated with suicide risk in transgender persons: a respondent driven sampling study in Ontario, Canada. BMC Public Health, 15(1). http://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-015-1867-2