Some of my goals for Morgan, and the kids of My Purple Umbrella, are to create self-reliant and confident kids, develop their conflict resolutions skills, and to create ambassadors of acceptance. No small order, however, completely possible and in all honesty, isn’t that what most people want for our youth? In my land of Pollyanna, I’d like to believe that’s true…reality isn’t reflecting that, yet.
At the beginning of the month, I spent four days at the Gender Odyssey Conference for professionals and family hosted by Gender Diversity (www.genderdiversity.org). “Gender Diversity is an education, support, and training organization committed to increasing awareness and understanding of the normal range of gender variations in children, adolescents, and adults.” Intellectually and emotionally it was a roller coaster ride, more than once it was hard to catch my breath. Morgan statistically is in a high risk category for bullying, depression and suicide; forty percent higher than any other group according to studies. You would never know it after spending five minutes around him. His smile is infectious, his level of kindness will touch your heart, his amount of compassion would inspire you and leave you feeling grateful for having met him. It’s true I’m a biased mother but Morgan has character qualities many adults could use. Frequently, I shake my head in bewilderment thinking who IS this little person? How did I end up being his mother? I feel a true sense of responsibility in raising him, as if he’s in our care until he’s ready for the rest of you.
I suppose that’s why I felt emotionally over-whelmed after watching a featured documentary at the conference, “Trans” directed by Chris Arnold (www.transthemovie.com). “TRANS” is an up-close and very personal journey into the transgender world through the memorable stories and the unusual lives of a remarkable cast of characters. Afterwards, I couldn’t get out of that room fast enough, shaking, breathless, trying with all my might to not sob uncontrollably. I can’t pinpoint what triggered such a dramatic response, I just had to escape. Ironically, there was no where in the building or outside that helped me escape the raw emotions. I kept thinking this is not my life.
Often people will thank me for “the work” that I and our volunteers do for MPU and most days it doesn’t feel like work. I LOVE to talk about MPU, gender in our culture and the future (any of you who’ve had the pleasure, you know what I mean). Periodically, my emotions hit me like a title wave usually without warning. Fears of all the ways Morgan can be hurt, isolated, ridiculed and tormented. The one that is unbearable to think of is suicide. The idea that Morgan’s spirit could be devastated leaving him to believe that’s his only way out is unbearable. I don’t live my life around “what if” so when Pandora’s box threatens to burst open I stifle it as quickly as possible.
During Gender Odyssey, I connected with some incredibly intelligent, dedicated and inspiring professionals who are changing conventional wisdom and improving these children’s lives. I am honored to consider some of them colleagues. The parents and family members I talked with share the same fears and, like me, are moving through those fears by loving our children. We see no other way.