The “T” in LGBT
I am the B in the LGBT rainbow – so, in essence, I know what it’s like to love someone of the same gender, and I know what it’s like to love someone of the opposite gender. What I have no frame of reference for is what it’s like not to feel comfortable in your own body. I’d love to be able to write books from a transgender (note: transgendered is not a word, as one of my trans friends pointed out the other day) perspective, but I can’t process the emotions it takes to be able to do that. I write from experience, and I have no experience with those thoughts or feelings. Recently, though, I’ve had two wonderful people come into my life who have shown me the human side of the T part of our family.
The first, we’ll call her Sarah, has a child who is transgender. She used to have a daughter, but now she has a son. Sarah is a reader of mine, and she likes to read the stuff on Jamie Mayfield’s blog – especially about transgender kids. She came to me with a dilemma a few days ago, sharing that she was having a hard time coming to terms with her son’s transition. She mourns the loss of her daughter, and isn’t quite sure what to feel about her new son. In our community, however, it is frowned upon to be anything but joyously accepting of anything LGBT, so she feels guilty about her conflicted feelings. It’s probably not the most politically correct answer, but I told her I thought that was normal. Huge swings in your life take time to process, and going from a daughter to a son is a pretty big change. Being supportive overall, I think that it’s not such a bad thing for her to mourn the loss of her daughter, or to need time to process the changes in her child’s life. She loves him for the person that he is, and the pronouns, the deep voice, the facial hair, everything else will become second nature in time. She doesn’t have to be the president of her local PFLAG chapter. She doesn’t have to be Debbie Novotny. If Sarah talks to her son, and her son knows that she loves him as a person first, that is what’s important—not Facebook public opinion because he is what matters—not us.
My other friend, we’ll call him Tommy, identifies as transgender. He was born biologically male, and is just a beautiful teenaged boy. As he explained it to me when I asked if he planned to transition – sometimes he loves being a boy, sometimes he hates being a boy. Sometimes he wants to be a girl, sometimes he doesn’t want to be a girl – all at the same time. All he really knows for sure is that he likes to wear pretty things. I can’t imagine what it’s like to live with that kind of confusion every day. I’m a girl. While I’m a geek and generally keep my hair short, I dress like a boy in dockers and polos. It’s for function because I’m lazy, not because in my heart I believe I’m a boy. I wish I could get my head around that because I’d so love to write it, seeing the heartache that Tommy has not knowing where he fits in. Teenagers have enough issues with trying to figure out how they fit in the world, and he has an entire layer on top of that. Tommy prefers gender neutral pronouns, but you’ll notice that I’ve called him “he” throughout this entire piece because I can’t bring myself to call him “they” or “them”. In my heart, that feels like calling him “it”, and I have a really hard time with that. But when he’s in drag, to me, he’s a girl – and I have no problems calling his drag persona “her”. It confuses me, and I’m not even inside the body. But he’s teaching me…slowly – because he’s patient, kind, and loving. How that amazing person is packaged, doesn’t matter to me at all as long as he’s happy and safe and healthy.
So, if you look at someone who is FtM (Female to Male) or MtF (Male to Female) transgender, and you don’t understand – I think that’s okay. I don’t understand. However, I don’t understand my niece’s love affair with One Direction. I don’t understand my dad’s obsession with football. I don’t understand why a man would want to wear 6 inch heels when I can barely stand wedges. My purpose is not to question why. My purpose, and yours, is to stand up and say – “I’m okay with that” even if we don’t get it. My role is to stand between the sales clerk and my transgender friend and ask if his money is any less green to buy those shoes just because they are heels. My place is to stand right there with my friends and support them, make sure they know that they are loved and accepted for the people they are. Sarah’s son, and my friend Tommy are beautiful, wonderful people no matter what gender role they choose, or in Tommy’s case doesn’t choose. They’re people, and should be treated as such. I’m proud to have them as part of my chosen family, because we were all born this way.
(aka J. P. Barnaby)
Jamie Mayfield is celebrating the release of the Waiting for Forever series with a 12-week blog tour and giveaway. View the full tour schedule HERE. Comment on any blog tour post or tweet using hashtag #WaitingForForever to enter to win a Kindle! Drawing will be held on 8/15/2013. You must be 18 to enter and have a valid US mailing address.
A survivor of the ex-gay residential institution The Sunshine Center, fictional author Jamie Mayfield went on to find his voice in novels. Always a great lover of books, Jamie found his passion as he began to pursue a liberal arts degree in creative writing. An avid reader, he’s a fan of gay romance, suspense, and horror—though not all in the same novel.
Jamie lives in San Diego with his fictional husband, Brian. He writes YA fiction as a way to let kids know that they have an entire LGBT family all around them. Above all, he wants them to know that they are not alone. It does get better.
Jamie Mayfield is a fictional character from the acclaimed Little Boy Lost series by female author J. P. Barnaby.