I might be the second or fourth or tenth person to write an article in response to the recent viral article “My Child Will Not Be Allowed To Be Transgender,” written by creator Moriah Dufrin from Michigan State.
I don’t want to overwhelm Odyssey readers with the same reaction over and over, but this is what Odyssey is. Odyssey is a community where we as writers can express ourselves as individuals and feel comfortable doing so.
So because I stand by this quality Odyssey promotes, I stand by Dufrin for expressing herself. I don’t know her, nor do I dislike her for her opinions. I have always accepted that people will not always see things the same way I do and I know this is something I will live by for the rest of my life.
However, I do know that if the opportunity ever arose where I had the chance to meet Dufrin, I would feel hesitant to express who I am to her. Because while she stated in her article that she respects people who identity as homosexual or transgender, the remainder of her piece made me feel belittled and quite frankly, irritated.
This response article is not targeted at Dufrin, but it does ring true for many people in this world who feel the same way as she does. So this article is targeted towards all of them. The people in this world who don’t see things the way I do, because it “isn’t right.”
Again, to reiterate, I respect their opinions and I truly hope that Dufrin doesn’t get shamed online because of her views. No one deserves to be torn apart online, so if she reads this, I hope she knows that my article is not meant to do that. But I use Odyssey the same way she does. I express myself freely because I can. As a writer, I feel the most comfortable portraying my opinions through words. Her article stirred feelings inside me that I want to express, so I hope it is respected just as I respect her words as well.
My sexuality is not an illness. I know what it is like to have a mental illness and I can honestly say that my feelings for my girlfriend are nowhere near how it feels to be depressed or anxious. They are polar opposites.
Anxiety makes me feel like I am going insane. I can be fine one minute, chatting with friends or planning my day. Wait, someone has plans? I thought we had plans. Does that mean they don’t want to hang out with me? Or did they just forget? Did I do something wrong? Should I say something? No, they probably will be annoyed at me and say I’m being dramatic. And then comes the quiet. The refusal to talk. The staring blankly at my wall or ceiling because I suddenly have no energy to do anything. I don’t want to talk and dig myself into a hole and find myself there the remainder of the day.
That is only one mild example of what a mental illness is like. I go to counseling for it.
That is not what my identity is like. Discovering my identity was more like the following: Growing up feeling like I am fitting in, and then slowly noticing that something is off. Something is missing, I feel weird, I feel worried. I don’t talk about it. I start to notice certain people more than others. Noticing the pattern, I pray about it. I pray not because I think these patterns are wrong, but because I know if I truly feel this way, life is going to be a little bit harder than I thought it would be. Because that is the world we live in. Then I meet someone who makes me feel okay. Better than anyone else. Is the only person that can talk me out of my hole of anxiety. Is the first person I want to share good news with. The one who shares my faith. The person I learn everything about, the one whose family becomes another immediate circle of important people in my life.
Religion wise, as I have stated in many articles, my faith has never diminished due to my sexuality. Crazy to think, right? Articles like Dufrin’s spread this view that those with queer identities cannot also believe in God (or whoever else they might believe in). They are not exclusive. I know because I live it every day. I live with the stereotype that due to my relationship, I must not know God. I grow weary of telling fellow religious peers about my relationship because I don’t know if they are more tolerant or if they, like Dufrin, truly disapprove with their entire being.
I found God because I chose to. I felt being Christian was something I needed in my life. I also feel like my girlfriend is someone I need in my life. I am familiar with people in my life who are religious disapproving of me. I’ve cried and cried because I hate the idea that they don’t approve of a part of my life. I’ve sat and cried when wondering if they’ll come to my wedding one day.
The difference between how they make me feel versus how the previously mentioned article makes me feel is that they don’t make me feel shame. I do not deserve to feel ashamed for my relationship or my identity. I know they will always love me and support me as a human being and someone they are proud of, regardless of my relationship. And that is all I can ask for because I respect their opinions and I would never cut off those relationships with them purely because they view my identity differently than I do.
The reality is that we have no idea what our future children will be like. And we can’t say that we’ll never let them be something because even children have a right to be themselves. I can’t approve of tearing someone’s rights away from them. As human beings, we all deserve to feel comfortable in our own skin.
If you truly feel you can’t accept your kids due to something they believe, whether it be their identity or religion or political views, then at least learn the act of tolerance. You can still love them and not approve of their actions, but don’t say that you refuse to let them be themselves under your roof.
Because the only thing that will do is drive them away, and I can imagine that as a parent, that is much worse than watching them act in a way you don’t approve of. Because with the latter you might never have a relationship at all. Ask yourself if that is worth the risk.