Wednesday, May 15, 2013

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia #hahat

     Welcome to Tyler's Naughty Notions
     Have a look around, and make yourselves at home. 
     I hope you enjoy your visit, and leave feeling a little better about the world around you. We're all headed in different directions, with so much going on as it is, and I think it's nice for this one day to focus on the same thing ... ending homophobia once and for all.

     Has it really been a year since we last tackled this issue? For some, yeah, but for others, withstanding hatred and discrimination is an EVERYDAY battle. 
     Sad, but true. 
     While I've always been an advocate for equality, I haven't had much experience dealing with prejudices pertaining to transphobia. After all, I live in a tiny Texas town where transgendered people would "stand out". This phobia must be more common in the "big cities", right?
     WRONG! 
     As I was planning this little post, I realized I've personally known a transgendered person since he was three years old, and he literally lives right down the street from my home, and goes to school with my daughters. 
     Perplexed, I asked myself how I could have overlooked this? Then it occurred to me...because, you big dummy, you don't see him any differently than you see the other kids in the neighborhood.

     This is "Sam's" story, so check your bigotry at the door, there is no place for it here....

All About "Sam"....

     I first met "Sam" when he was a darling, 3yr old little boy in preschool. He had this chubby little face, and wore glasses that only added to his adorableness. 
     
     On the outside, he looked like all the other kids in school, but inside, there was so much more going on. Within a few weeks, we had all started noticing little differences. 
     At first, it was subtle, like his preference for girl's toys, and the cute little purse he'd brought from home.
     After a while, the teacher said he'd been referring to himself as a girl, and when the teacher spoke to Sam's parents, they all felt it was just a phase. Most of us weren't convinced, and it was then that I first realized that no matter what society tried to say about sexuality being a "choice"--- that THREE year old child had definitely been BORN that way.
   

     Sam didn't have boy feelings, and didn't identify with boy things. He was a girl, and the world was just gonna have to get used to it. 
     Some teachers and faculty rolled their eyes, and felt he should be "forced" to be a boy, and some felt he had no place at all in school around other children. 
   
     YES, teachers and school administrators can be as dumb as doorknobs, too. A College education can't buy common sense or erase prejudice.   

          As far as I could tell, Sam's parent's hadn't outright encouraged him, but at least they seemed to have the foresight to just let him be ... and having no "first-hand"  knowledge of what went on in the privacy of their home, I was under the assumption they wouldn't force Sam to be a boy either.
     Time went on and Sam continued to bring purses, makeup and many other "girl" things to school, and after a while, everyone just sort of accepted it. That was just how Sam was. The other children didn't seem to notice, and most parents paid no mind to the differences either. 
     When Sam moved on to elementary school, I didn't see him again until we moved across town into the same neighborhood where Sam and his family lived.
   
     Imagine my surprise when I saw Sam at the bus stop, now around the age of eight, and looking very much like a BOY!
     At first, I admit, I was somewhat relieved, feeling that his life would go so much smoother without the gender "thing" to contend with. If he was simply gay, he'd be accepted much more easily, right? 
    Without bringing too much attention to it, I asked my kids if they knew Sam. 
    My girls, who are younger, and much more perceptive than my oblivious sons, nodded, and one even said, "Yeah, but he's a little different."
     "Oh?" I asked. "How so?"
    
     "I think he thinks he's a girl," my eldest daughter replied. "He has this really cute purse, and he wears lip-gloss and everything."
     "The other kids tease him." My other daughter spoke up. 
     My heart sank, and then I panicked. "Do you tease him?"
     Both shook their heads, and my oldest daughter shrugged. "If he wants to be a girl, he can be a girl."
     Whew, I had proof, once and for all, that I had raised my kids RIGHT!     

     Time marched on, and I had forgotten all about Sam and his little eccentricities for a while, until this year when I passed a kid on a bicycle who appeared somewhat peculiar. The kid's hair was long, almost shoulder length, and the clothes were a little on the "goth" side. I wasn't even sure if the child was a boy or a girl.
     Once again, I went with my gut and questioned my daughters. "Is that Sam?"
     "Yes," my oldest answered. 
     "They still tease him, Mom." The other added. 
     I wasn't sure what I could say, so I just went with what came naturally. "Well, that's because some kids just don't know better."     

     But was that entirely true? Shouldn't junior high and high school kids know better? I pondered this problem as we drove along.
     "And kids are meaner now than they used to be," my oldest explained. "But Sam just ignores them."
     "Well good for him. And you shouldn't be afraid to stand up for him either. He needs to know that not everybody is a jerk."
     "Oh we do, mom. We do."
      My heart was once again at ease, but not nearly as much as it would be a few weeks later when we pulled into the corner store in our neighborhood. 
     I sat in the car waiting for my girls to run in and buy some sodas, when I saw Sam inside, sweeping the floor. His dad had been working part time at the store, and Sam had been going there to help out after school.
     Sam's hair was longer, and he was definitely wearing makeup, well eyeliner anyway. His clothes were rather gender neutral and he seemed happy. 
   
       I watched my daughters acknowledge him, and nearly cried when they hugged him. They all talked and laughed for a few minutes while my girls shopped and paid for their drinks. 
     When they returned to the car, I made sure to let them know how proud I was that they hadn't succumbed to peer pressure, and had treated Sam with the respect he deserved. 
     After all, somewhere deep inside all the long hair and eyeliner, Sam was still that little three year old who was probably the "Truest" most "genuine" person I had ever met. Someone who wasn't, and isn't, afraid to be himself, in whatever way he identifies with. 
     
     Sam is who he is, and it isn't for anybody else to say otherwise. Sam knows, and that's what really matters.
     I smile when I see Sam huddled with other girls in the neighborhood, and in my mind, I wonder if he will always be just as happy as he appears now. 
     I haven't heard if Sam has decided to continue living his life somewhere in the middle, or if he might someday go "all the way", but I do know that whatever he decides, I'll always envy his courage. 
     Sam does have a rough road ahead, that's for sure, but we're making great strides everyday toward equality, and someday that veil of hatred and prejudice will be lifted. And when that day comes, all the Sams of the world can he seen for who they are, and what they aspire to be, not judged by their gender or sexuality. 


  
    
 Is there a Sam in your life? If so, make sure you tell them everyday that although you may not relate to their plight, you do support them and love them unconditionally.   You'd be surprised how powerful that simple gesture can be.               


Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas about how we can better educate our kids, and what we can each do personally, to make the future better for everyone. 
      I will choose THREE winners by the end of the week, to win digital copies of my first M/M novel, "Beyond Honor", or my latest, Amazon Best-seller, "A Beautiful Lie."

        
     
      Also, be sure to visit the other hops and enter whatever contests those blogs have. This hop is guaranteed to not only be educational and touching, it's going to be tons of fun, too!!

22 comments:

  1. When my daughter was in kindergarten, she cut off her hair, called herself Kevin and lined up for the boys' bathroom. It was prophetic.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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  2. While my kids were growing up I always told them to be open minded about life. I stressed that they should not judge anyone by their preferences and to live and let live. I remember playing a video game and my eldest noticed I was same gendered married.. she sat there and said.. Oh lame mom! I was shocked and we had the talk again. From that moment on she opened her heart and mind. Good thing she did...

    A few years ago that same eldest daughter came out as Bisexual, she was afraid I would think differently.. as if I hadn't already known for years. I let her know I love her, and she's not alone in the world. She follows after her Mommy, looks like me, and has the same preferences as I do. You see, I am openly Bisexual, although my kids only recently found out.. it is not something you openly talk about until you feel the need. Not to mention I am happily married to their Dad, and we are monogomous, but I am married not dead ;)

    In my kids grade school there has been a Gay boy and a Trans girl(who as of a few years ago now goes by a boys name) and my Bisexual daughter. All the power to these kids for having the courage to stand up and be who they were born to be.. and thanks to the community we live in (even as they all go to Catholic schools) for accepting our kids for who they are. No matter what their preferences may be.

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  3. I don't know any Sams but am very impressed with your daughters and their acceptance of him. If only more people were like them. If we all do our bit maybe there really will be acceptance in the wider society for people who are like Sam.

    In the meantime keep up the good work with your children and I will continue being proud of mine who accept people for who not what they are.

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  4. What a wonderful, inspiring story. Thanks for sharing that :)

    Hm, I grew up in hickville, so if anyone was gay, bi, trans, or whatever, they hid it well. Our class only had 90 people who graduated. Everyone knew everything about everyone. It was annoying and I couldn't wait to escape that small town. It is sad that if there was anyone who had different sexual preferences, they couldn't openly admit it.

    But then I moved on to college. I went to a very liberal college and met a variety of people. I moved in with two other girls, and one of the girls was best friends with a gay guy. For some reason, this seemed to mean they knew just about every gay guy in town and invited them to our parties. And boy, do gay guys know how to party! Best years of my life :D

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  5. Thanks for sharing Sam's story. I hope he will have all the love and support he needs to be happy. His life will be so much better with people like your daughters in this world that accept him for who he is and stand up for him.

    It is one of our most important jobs as parents to teach our children how to treat others and be respectful. Teach them about acceptance. They learn from our example.

    lkbherring64(at)gmail(dot)com

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  6. Thank you for taking part in the hop!

    In order to combat hatred, we must spread love. Educate others, bring awareness, because every person who has their mind opened is one person closer to a world where homophobia and transphobia doesn’t exist.

    kimberlyFDR@yahoo.com

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  7. I think kids have to be so strong to be who they are at school, though for some I'm sure conforming must be the safest option.
    I hope Sam is able to become who he/she needs to be in the future


    littlesuze at hotmail dot com

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  8. thank you for sharing sam's story. i hope he has the support he/she needs to develop into a wonderful person

    parisfan_ca@yahoo.com

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  9. I was just at another blog site that discussed this about kids and honestly I don't think most kids need much nudging to be accepting if their parents and adult mentors lead by example. Parents are a child's first teacher and I don't think that ends with math and reading.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.
    sophiarose1816 at gmail dot com

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  10. I wish I had a solution, other than keeping the lines of communication open!

    vitajex(at)Aol(dot)com

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  11. What a sweet story, thanks for sharing.

    cojazzchick AT yahoo DOT com

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  12. Just think that we need to teach kids AND adults to be open-minded & kind towards everyone and then the World would be a better place to live in!! Thanks for the contest and I loved "Beyond Honor"!!

    Luvbear65 at AOL dot com

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  13. I would love to win A Beautiful Lies. Ideally, bringing education programs into the schools (like they do for sex ed) would be a great start with our children. But for now it is left to parents to teach them. Thank you for participating in the hop.

    Karl
    slats5663(at)shaw(dot)ca

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  14. I've been hearing so much about gender identification in the news lately. My belief is a child should be able to get to know themselves without interference from anyone else. No adult should try to discourage them and if they see any type of bullying occurring they should help to stop it. The child is probably confused enough, there's no need to cause more stress for them by telling them and allowing others to hurt them by saying they just aren't right because they don't fit the believed(societies?) norm.

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

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  15. Thanks you for sharing Sam's story. You should be proud of yourself(for bringing your daughters up right) and your daughters for listening. We need to make sure the lines of communication are open between adults and children. There needs to be better programs in the schools to help kids understand that not everyone is the same and it's okay to be different.

    e.balinski(at)att(dot)net

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  16. That was such a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing that story. I think that people just need to learn how to be accepting of others. Just because someone is doing something that you would not do does not mean that anyone has the right to criticize. Everyone should have the right to live the right that they want to live without judgement. That is the message that we need to spread to our children.

    Thank you so doing the hop!

    Beth
    JPadawan11@gmail.com

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  17. Thanks for sharing. If only the haters would pull their heads out and look around they would see what you have seen.

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  18. I stumbled upon a wonderful video one day on Youtube about a transgender child named Josie. It was very moving, and we need more parents and more awareness like this. Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsVV_CEd7_Y

    tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  19. I really enjoyed your post and I do hope "Sam" does find a happiness. It was so great how your daughter behave all the credit goes to you and your family.

    ShirleyAnn@speakman40.freeserve.co.uk

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  20. Thank you for sharing your story, I loved reading it.

    peggy1984 at live dot com

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  21. Your children a amazing. I hope everything works out for Sam. Great post! Thank you for taking part in the hop!
    sstrode at scrtc dot com

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  22. You raised great kids :)

    Thanks for participating in this great hop!

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

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