Matthew 11:28 "Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest".
Why is it difficult to share the "load"? Why is it... when faced with a crisis, my faith suddenly becomes evasive?
Recently, while engaged in a discussion session with other parents of transgendered youth... a distraught mother shared an experience that deeply troubled my heart. She had received anonymous threats from an individual/individuals in her community who vowed to harm her child. Her devastation was palpable and since reading the post, my anguish has paralleled her grief... Suddenly, fear "barged through the front door" and faith quietly "slipped out the back".
I believe in the good of humanity. My dad always says that it's important to function under the auspice that people are honest, decent, and reasonable - until they prove otherwise... Sometimes, however, considering the "otherwise" is unbearable. I felt horrified as I read her words, her devastation, and her pain. Why would anybody want to hurt an innocent child?
Fear is one of the most powerful forces affecting humanity.... both a survival mechanism and an instrument of evil. It divides and unites, mobilises and paralyses. Fear can manifest as a rational response to danger, or stir hate in the presence of the unknown. In this unfortunate woman's circumstance, she was victimized by a perverse fear of the "unknown".
How do I handle my own fears? Do I mobilize or paralize? Should I press on or give in to adversity? Should I hide in fear, allowing the "unknown" to divide... or provide answers with the intent to unify? Should I tuck Cameron away and shield her from ignorance and hate, or open the "doors" of understanding to those who have sincere questions? These are the issues that every parent of a gender variant child must face.
There are many people who have no knowledge about the issues that challenge my child. Many of them have children and can relate to the unconditional love that a parent feels for their child and the heartache associated with helplessness. Many of these people have legitimate concerns. If I do not provide the answers... who will? Recently, I received the following blog post:
Lyn in AL has left a new comment on your post "In the Eyes of the Beholder...":
I am sympathetic to all that Cameron will have to endure. I am however concerned about the deception of Cameron's classmates. Do they believe he is biologically a girl? What happens when one of the boys decides he wants to have Cameron as his girlfriend. I understand that your child needs to be protected but so do the others in the school. It could scar a child who liked Cammie thinking he was a girl only to find out that Cameron is a boy. That to me is unfair to the other children.
The antithesis of "fear of the unknown" is knowledge... I appreciate Lyn for taking the time to address her concerns. We have not been stealth about this issue. The reason that Lyn is aware of this blog, and others who have visited us here, is because we are not afraid to discuss Cammie's condition. We have not approached this issue with the intent to deceive. I would encourage anyone with similar questions or concerns to read the blog posts here, to visit the face page of this blog, and to e-mail me. I am happy to directly discuss any issues or concerns that families and parents might have. This blog, however, is not a place for heated discussions or attacks on anybodies views or character. I appreciate Lyn for taking the time to come here, to voice her concerns, and give me the opportunity to address them.
Cammie went to the same school last year dressed as a boy. Many children have had questions. These questions have provided a valuable opportunity for education. The school faculty and counsellors are well educated, with a clear understanding of these issues. They are available to provide education to the students as needs arise.
There is no shame in a medical condition and we are not ashamed to discuss Cammie's condition. Growing up, I never saw another child's penis or vagina... neither did I have any interest in doing so. Cammie is ten and fears pertaining to this issue are unnecessary. Cammie uses a gender neutral, private bathroom at school. Beyond that... her genitals are private and she has a right to that privacy.
Issues pertaining to complete disclosure will become more prevalent as Cammie approaches dating age. Cammie and I have discussed this issue in detail. It's an issue that creates a great deal of heartache for both of us. She understands that it will be necessary to be open about her medical circumstance. She understands that dating will introduce some extremely difficult challenges for her. I have explained that many young men may turn their tail and "run for the hills", but I believe that God has a plan for every child. I continually reassure Cammie that he has a plan for her life as well. I am teaching her to have faith in that plan. She may have to go "stag" to her high school prom... she may never get her chance to "dance".
I believe the Lord will "pave" the path that lies ahead. I believe he will continue to guide us in our journey. I have assured Cammie that her Heavenly Father knows her well, He loves her very much, and He is aware of her needs. I believe that one day there will be "one" who will not be afraid... he will be the right young man for her because he will have the character, and strength of spirit, to look beyond her physical challenges to love her for WHO she is. He will give her the chance to "dance".
Just as people who have children with Diabetes, Chron's Disease, asthma, or food allergies must educate those around them... I feel that I have a responsibility to educate others as well. I would rather be given the opportunity to share the truth with those who have questions and concerns, than keep silent and allow people to feel deceived or dwindle in their fears and misconceptions. I am willing to discuss these issues with those who sincerely ask.
Lyn raises some legitimate concerns... they reflect my own concerns. My child's life could be at risk if she is not completely "up front" in prospective dating and/or relationship situations. At that time she will have to be extremely courageous in addressing and divulging her medical condition. We are teaching her to love and accept herself so that she will be able to walk through life with the strength and courage to help others understand "who" she is. It's my prayer that Cammie will discover her divine purpose, then fulfill those "callings" in her life with poise and dignity.
Cammie is a girl and her diagnoses is physiological and biological in nature. She is being treated medically. This is not a choice for her and it is not a sexual issue - it's a developmental issue. Identity is not a sin... and it is not a disorder. However, the reality is that transgender conditions have been - and often continue to be - sexualized by society.
Cammie has a right to privacy... a right to have a normal childhood. She has the right to make friends without being required to say, "Hello, my name is Cammie - I was born with a penis". There is a time and a place for these delicate issues to be addressed... by those with the maturity and knowledge to responsibly do so.
We don't expect our diabetic children to walk around the school with a sign on their back that says... "I AM DIABETIC". However, when birthday cupcakes show up in a classroom and the child can't have one... questions abound... These situations present invaluable opportunities for education, for growth, and for learning. We have had many opportunities to teach those around us, to share our testimony of this experience, and to convey the truth. We have been blessed with the courage, strength, and wisdom to meet these challenges.
Cammie wears girls clothes because they reflect her gender identity, not as a means of manipulation or deceit. Cammie knows who she is and we are allowing her to be herself. My goal is to teach her not to be ashamed of her identity OR her physiological challenges. We are proud of our child... ALL OF HER. When she doesn't feel judged or threatened, she - too - courageously opens up about her experience... she freely discusses her challenges with those who sincerely ask.
Our family focus is on education. We have had multiple conversations with neighbors, friends, family members, co-workers, and school administrators... as well as Cammie's playmates and their parents. We have approached this situation with a desire to dispel the "FEAR" of the unknown, with the hope of making the world a better place for her, and other children like her. I know that there will be many bumps along the way, but we take one day at a time... despite the difficulties introduced by Cammie's circumstance... we have been greatly blessed.
Cammie is a normal girl. She has sleep overs and she sleeps over at other children's houses. Her friends play at our home and she plays at theirs. We have received a great deal of love and support - more than I imagined possible. Those individuals (both children and adults) who play a fundamental role in Cammie's life have been receptive to learning... they have opened their hearts with a willingness to overcome the "fear of the unknown"... fears that - I too - shared at one point in my life. My husband put it best, "Courage is not defined by a lack of fear... rather, it's the ability to act in spite of it." It takes courage for parents, educators, neighbors, family members, and friends to open their hearts to understanding these delicate issues. It has taken courage, built on a foundation of faith, to open up about our experience. We hope that our comfort in discussing these matters will open the door to compassion and understanding for our child, and make the world a better place for others.