As part of our Queer Joy blog series to celebrate Pride Month, Tammy describes the joys of pronouns, gender-affirming gear and the queer community. She shares her personal experiences of raising queer kids in her new book Beyond Pronouns: The Essential Guide for Parents of Trans Children, out now.
I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t want their child to be happy. We live for their smile as infants, that infectious belly laugh as toddlers, and their fleeting grin of accomplishment as teens. Raising a queer child is no different. However, we get a little extra dose of joy when we witness our children being affirmed.
As the parent of four LGBTQIA+ children, I know the overwhelming fear for the safety and well-being of queer kids. Parents and caregivers can easily fall into the trap of worrying their child will be singled out, ridiculed, and have fewer opportunities later in life. And while some of that worry is justified, I have also witnessed all sorts of moments of pride, glee, and euphoria over the years.
The Joy of Pronouns
Yes, learning to use a new pronoun for your child can be a challenge initially, but it can be done! The true gift of switching to using a different pronoun for your child, or anyone else in your life, is how purposeful and in the moment you become. We go from the state of mindlessly referring to someone in one way out of habit to intentionally thinking of how we speak of them. In the end, you are more present to your child.
I remember vividly watching my son’s face light up when the server at a restaurant used “he” as a pronoun not long after his social transition. It’s incredible how such a tiny little word can have such a huge impact on a person and bring him and our whole family so much joy. Anytime you use an affirming pronoun, you’re making the other person feel good and you’ll enjoy the ripple effect. It’s a win-win all around!
The Joy of Gender-Affirming Gear
Nothing quite highlights how much of our everyday life is gendered until you start purchasing new items to affirm your gender-diverse child. It blew my mind when we began buying items to make my son feel more comfortable—everything from his lunch box and bedsheets to his skates and bicycle, not to mention the obvious things such as ordinary clothing.
It is an absolute gift to witness the unbridled joy of a transgender teen or young adult who puts on a chest binder or breast forms for the first time! This is where I learned the term gender euphoria and saw it in action. My son’s eye’s sparkled and lit up his whole face. His smile was as wide as can be. While we did have to space out our purchases of gender gear and new clothing for the sake of my bank account, for my son to finally look in the mirror and have that reflection be the image in his mind is priceless.
The Joy of Community
I often say the true reward of raising four queer kids is the friends we’ve all made along the way. The negative headlines about transphobia and hate crimes are real, but so are the simple happy stories that don’t make the news. And from our experience as a family, we enjoy much more love and affirmation on a daily basis compared to the occasional negative comments.
There are so many people in my life today that I don’t know if I would have met otherwise. Because of our volunteer work as a family, and social gatherings with Pride groups, we are surrounded by people who understand and accept us. Because we’ve walked similar paths and share common values, we can focus on creating authentic relationships around other interests too. Our community fills the fundamental need to be seen, heard, and know that we matter.
Pride Month and its rainbow symbol is a great reminder for all of us to look for the joy and happiness in our lives no matter who we love or how we identify.
Beyond Pronouns: The Essential Guide for Parents of Trans Children is available at JKP.com or wherever you buy books. Get 25% off using discount code JKPPRIDE25 at checkout, offer only on JKP.com, valid until the end of June.
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