Monday, February 27, 2012


A friend has been on my mind today.  She and I exchange e-mails on a pretty regular basis.  Her family has unfortunately not accepted her as the young woman she truly is.  They cling to the idea of the "son" they feel they are losing or have already lost.

I had remarked to her that I think that parents often have a hard time "letting go" of our expectations of our children and that perhaps we should "drop" our expectations to having no expectations.  The word "drop" was an unfortunate one because it implies lowering one's standards, in effect.  However, what I am suggesting is not that we lower our standards, but that we only have one standard, well, two actually.

My friend, who is transgender herself, replied to my e-mail and had (as always) some incredibly thought provoking comments.  I will not pretend that the comments are always comfortable because thought provoking comments usually lead to the reader having to challenge their long held beliefs.  Once the reader challenges herself, then she must either decide to keep the status quo and accept she is not willing or able to change, or she must endeavor to make a change within herself.  Neither of those options is comfortable, per se, but at least we can probably agree that one of them offers change in the name of growth.

Her more insightful comments included:

"So although you might think "dropping" your expectations to be a good thing, for us, it's a sign of disbelief and rejection, that we aren't worthy of the same expectations and treatment you'd have of a "normal" daughter, that through no fault of our own, we aren't entitled to a normal life, and simply because it might hurt our parents to change their dreams and expectations to something they'd have been perfectly happy to have if we'd been born "right" in the first place."

Now, it had not occurred to me that NOT having the same expectations for DJ as I would for a natal daughter could be construed as non-acceptance, on some level.  In fact, my friend had expressed a similar thought when she pointed out that my "hoping" DJ might actually be a lesbian was contrary to what most parents would hope for for a daughter;  instead, most would focus on the wedding/wife/mother dreams for our daughters. And that my deviating from the common path could be construed as not true acceptance of DJ as a girl.   Before anyone's eyes bulge out of their heads in fury over what sounds like a stupid/insensitive comment regarding "hoping" DJ might be a lesbian, let me explain:

Right or wrong, I believe that a lesbian would not give a damn how a woman came to have a vagina.  I think women are hard wired differently than that.  I just do.  Sue me.  However, while a straight man might not care how a person came to have a vagina, I think most straight man would have a real issue with the fact that there USED TO BE another type of genitalia in the location of the present day vagina.  My perspective was strictly about playing (what I think of as) the odds of the likelihood of DJ getting hurt in the romance department.  I figured she might have a lesser likelihood of "rejection" from people who don't have issues about being gay, because they already know they are gay, compared with the people who actually might be afraid they are gay because they are attracted to/having relations with a person who was born with "male" genitalia.  My statement is actually more about homophobia than anything else.

Anyway, my friend made the astute observation that DJ could easily construe that my thoughts about not having the same hopes for her that I would have for a daughter who was born with her outsides matching her identity, meant that I didn't truly accept her as a young woman.  And that makes sense to me BUT, and this is a BIG BUT-what if my "dropping" my expectations is a result of realizing that pretty much any expectation, some call "hopes", for our children, are, after all, pretty unfair across the board for any/all children:  straight/gay/asexual/transgender/questioning/college bound/non college bound/church-going/non get the idea.  

I have an aunt whose "hopes" for her children included that they all would marry other Irish Americans.  One of them married a woman not of Irish descent, another married a woman who is a native of Thailand.  Her last child is also NOT marrying an Irishman.  I originally envisioned all of my children being white collar workers-and before anyone gets their undies in a knot, keep in mind I AM BLUE COLLAR MYSELF, as was Bulldog for most of his career. Why did I hope for this?  So they wouldn't have to experience the struggles I did financially.  Most of our "hopes" or expectations for our children are not rational and usually have something to do with US, and not a lot to do with THEM.  UNLESS, we only hold out for one, or two expectations or hopes for them:

1.  I hope that they are happy in the lives they lead.

2.  I hope they don't intentionally hurt someone else to achieve #1.

If I commit to ONLY those two, I have them, and only them, in mind in imagining their future.  If I apply this to all my children, and NOT just to my transgender daughter, then I am truly accepting all three of them for the people they are.  

Now here's the funny part.  I am going to compare this thought process with Jesus.  Yes, I know that I am treading on blasphemy AND seemingly promoting myself to deity status, but bear with me for a second.

In the Old Testament, we had the ten commandments.  All in all, a pretty comprehensive, simple to follow list of dos and don'ts.  (Interesting that homosexuality is NOT mentioned.  One would think if it truly were the abomination many zealots believe it to be that God would not have committed such an oversight in omitting it from his TOP 10.)  Yet, Jesus came along and trumped the Top 10 with his Golden Rule/s.  He basically said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  Now, I can guess that he must have had a "hold on a second" thought, because then he added, "Love one another as I have loved you."   Jesus and I are alike in this way: (Holy Water is drying up all over the earth as I type this) less is more.  Why have boatloads of expectations and rules when really if you KISS, (keep it simple, stupid) everyone is WAY more likely to be happy, not disappointed, and willing to accept everyone else?  THAT is what I meant to say by "dropping" expectations-not less than, not different, just fewer and, thereby, more equitable for everyone.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I must explain to God that I was just making an ANALOGY before He smites me....just kidding.