A few months ago, I sent a friend request on Facebook to this teenager I know. He’s the son of this couple who are some of my clients, and they manage a hardwood company, more or less, and he’s about the gayest person I’ve ever met. I don’t mean that as an insult by any means, but you immediately knew what I meant, didn’t you? I value clear and effective communication far more than I value political correctness. So yeah, this teen is, by a wide margin, the gayest person I’ve ever seen.
And his parents are in absolute denial about it. He and I have had a very brief conversation, and it was after this that I sent him the friend request, though I retracted it after a few hours, because I realized… that his parents screen his communications almost entirely, so he can’t befriend someone on Facebook without them knowing. I just wanted to tell him, because I wasn’t able to during our conversation… that things do get better. He will get out of that house, and he will be free.
He’s homeschooled, and he wants nothing more than to go back to school. His parents say that it was because he was bullied, but that’s not the case at all. They did it because they want to control what things can influence him. He can use his mom’s phone to some degree, but you’d better believe she reads all communications, and his laptop was taken away from him for an entire year. They’re essentially trying to shelter and oppress the gay out of him, as my grandmother and dad tried to oppress and shelter the transgender out of me.
Dear parents reading, that never works.
You cannot change your child’s sexual orientation, gender, or anything else by oppressing them. At best, you will corrupt them, twist them, and destroy them by forcing them to not merely live a lie to you, but to live a lie to themselves. But the truth will always come forward; it cannot be hidden forever, and it cannot be repressed forever. If your child is gay, deal with it, accept it, and move on, because there’s nothing you can do to change it. And anything you do to try to change it will be destructive, and it may very well grow into bitterness, resentment, and hatred.
It is only because I pity my father and grandmother that I do not hate them for what they did to me. By all rights, they should have sat me down and told me, “Look, you’re wearing girls’ clothes. If that’s what you want to do, then do it. Whatever makes you happy. Fuck whatever anyone else says. We have your back, no matter what, because you’re our <child/grandchild> and we love you.” But they didn’t. They threatened me, grounded me, nearly assaulted me with violence on a few occasions, oppressing me and forcing inner conflict into me until I could only resolve it by living a lie and by lying to myself, culminating in nearly two decades–twenty goddamned years–of wasted time that I will never get back.
I will never be an 18 year old chick partying with her friends on a Friday night. I will never be a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding. I will never have any of the things that a teenage and young adult female gets to have; those things were stolen from me. I will not get to be a gorgeous, sexy, young minx. Well, I will, because I’m not actually that old, I’m only in my freaking twenties, thank the fucking gods, but still. I did have a lot of time stolen from me.
And I am angry about this, parents out there reading this. I am bitter. I am pissed. I resent them. I hate their religion, and I hate their god*. It is only because I pity my dad and grandmother that I don’t hate them. So think about that–I am what your kids will become. They will either pity you for being so misguided by fucked up religions and ideologies that you would literally oppress your child, or they will come to hate you for oppressing them. It will not end well, and they will not stay “changed.” You cannot pray the gay away, and fuck you for trying to.
Take a good, long, and hard look at this website, parents. I am the result of that religious brainwashing, that religiously motivated oppression, and that bullshit that places loyalty to the tribe over love for the children. And, of course, at every point in this, my dad and grandmother would have said that they only wanted what was best for me, and that is why they did what they did. And they would still insist on that to this day. If you’re oppressing your kids for being LGBT, then chances are that you’ll say the same.
But you’re full of shit, if that’s the case. You’re completely full of shit.
Because the simple fact is that I’ve been transgender since I learned to walk. One of my earliest memories is of hiding all of my underwear so that I could wear my sister’s panties. Based on the timeline I’ve constructed for Dancing in Hellfire, I could not have been older than four, and I was almost certainly three years old. For all intents and purposes, that is “since birth.” There was no cultural influence that could have corrupted me; at that age, there is no way that the devil’s evil television and mainstream media could have deceived me into believing I was transgender. I was three. My exposure to culture consisted of practically nothing; we didn’t even have cable then, and no one on television was talking about homosexuality or transgenderism in 1989 anyway. So there is literally no way that the devil you believe in could have corrupted me into sin.
This means, beyond any doubt whatsoever, that your god made me this way. So what is the argument here? That your god made me desperately and sincerely feel as though I should be a girl because he expected me to resist the temptation to sin at the age of three? Is that the contention? Your god made me transgender at the age of three because he wanted me to resist the sin? I have to quote Maynard James Keenan here when I say, if that’s the case, then “Fuck your god.”
That’s the equivalent of starving a child, poisoning their dinner, and then putting the poisoned dinner in front of the child without even telling them not to eat it. Because I was three, remember? No one had yet beat into my head that it was, for unknown reasons, a sin for me to wear softer, polyester underwear instead of coarser, cotton underwear. No pastor, parent, or teacher had told me that it was a sin for a man to dress like a woman. So I had no idea that the dinner was poisoned.
And it’s entirely accurate to say that I was starving to wear girl’s clothes and to be a girl; I always have been. There’s a reason that it has always popped back up in my life and that I’ve never succeeded in repressing it for more than a few months. And believe me–I’ve tried. My ex-wife and I had been together for like five years before I just straight told her that I was about to put on a pair of her underwear. Until that point, I’d hidden it pretty well, but I still had to do it occasionally, after she went to bed, or when she was gone. It’s a deep, pervasive hunger that has always been there.
I wouldn’t expect you to understand that. Honestly, I wouldn’t, and I don’t expect people like my dad and grandmother to understand what I mean when I say that. But it’s true–it might be the truest thing that I’ve ever said. To deny me that was to starve my soul**. Even people who aren’t like my dad and grandmother won’t necessarily get it–many of my friends have expressed the sentiment that they don’t care why it matters to me. They don’t mind that it obviously matters to me, but they don’t understand why it matters to me.
Why does it matter to me? I don’t know. It certainly doesn’t matter to most people, since most people are born the correct gender and don’t run into any problems there. Why does it matter to you what kind of music you listen to? What kind of movies you watch? “It just does.” And it does, parents. Whether your kid is gay, bisexual, transgender, or lesbian, it matters.
Put it like this. Why does it matter to you whether you’re getting oral sex from a man or a woman? It feels the same, doesn’t it? You can’t tell whether it’s a man’s tongue or a woman’s tongue. So why does it matter? Who knows? But it does matter.
My ex-wife frequently called me gay because I like butts so much–seriously–and, according to her, I might as well like guys, too, then, since guys also have butts. It’s hard to even know where to begin dissecting that particular illogic, isn’t it? Guys also have hands, so if I want to hold her hand I might as well just hold hands with a guy, right? Guys also have lips, so if I want to kiss her then I might as well just kiss a guy, right? But no… It matters. Some people find it strange, considering that I’m transgender, but I’m solely interested in women, and I have no attraction whatsoever to men. I wouldn’t touch a guy sexually, I wouldn’t hold a guy’s hand, and I wouldn’t kiss a guy; the thought actually repulses me^.
These things matter.
So no, you can’t simply make your gay son kiss a few girls and hope he’s cured. If he’s gay, then he’s gay, and he’s just as repulsed by the thought of kissing a girl as I am by the thought of kissing a guy. We have no control over this. It’s not something that we can help, and it’s not something that can be changed. It is simply who we are.
To the Teens
I’m so sorry.
I’m sorry for the situation you’re in, and I’m sorry for what I’m about to tell you. But the simple truth is that… you’re going to have to live a lie to some degree. You’re going to have to hide who you are, keep secrets, and deal with oppression. They’re your parents, and you’re the kid. Sadly, American society has absolutely no respect for the rights of anyone under 18–your parents can oppress you all they want, can invade your privacy all they want, and can go all in with their attempts to destroy who you are.
But if I could say one thing to you, and only one thing, it would be this:
It gets better.
It sucks, and it’s going to continue to suck for a long time. You’ll be miserable, and you’ll likely fall into depression throughout all of your teenage years. You will probably be forced to lie to them, to hide things from them, and to have a false identity just to keep them off your back for five freaking minutes. I get it, man. Believe me, I get it. I totally get it.
But stay true to yourself. Don’t lose sight of who you are, and don’t ever forget that you’re simply wearing a false identity. Don’t ever forget that you’re simply wearing a mask to appease the oppressive adults in your life, and that the day will come when you can remove that mask. Because that day will come. Hang in there. You can always reach out to me. My goal is to create an Internet web of people who are there for LGBT teens in the south, or anywhere with oppressive parents, so that you can be reminded by me, or someone like me, that it will get better. No matter how much it sucks, no matter how bad it gets, and no matter how depressed you become, don’t lose sight of that fact. Once you graduate high school and turn 18, go to college, and be yourself. Remove the masks.
A lot of people will say to go ahead and forcefully come out, make your parents accept you, but that isn’t always an option. Consider your needs, first and foremost. Ask yourself that one simple question: “Will my parents kick me out? Will they send me away?” You know your situation better than anyone. Go with your gut.
Those same people will probably say “If they can’t accept you, then screw them. You don’t need them anyway.” I don’t understand why people say things like that. A few months ago, someone told me that about my clients. Since my clients will drop me the moment that this transition can no longer be hidden, he said “fuck them,” and that I don’t need them. I honestly don’t know what world these people live in, but it’s not the real world. Back in real world, I do need those clients. Those clients keep my bills paid, keep me fed, and keep a roof over my head. This isn’t a movie where you can just be yourself and saw the hearts of the ignorant, convincing them to come around to the side of tolerance and understanding. The real world doesn’t work that way. Ignorant people will remain ignorant, and you will, in many case, need those ignorant people.
Work hard so that you don’t need those ignorant people. And the moment that you don’t need them, then you can tell them to deal with you on your terms. Yeah, if I was making even $2000 a month from writing, I could tell my clients, “I’m transgender. And if I’m going to continue working for you, you need to understand that all future service calls will be done by me ‘as a female.’ And if that’s a problem, then we need to our separate ways.” But back in the real world, I can’t afford to do that. Thanks to how the Vegas bullshit made me lose 90% of my clients, I need my clients more than ever.
And the fact is that, yeah, you do need your parents right now. You might have a friend whose parents wouldn’t care, who you could stay with instead, but before you take a leap like that, you need to put a great deal of thought into things. I would say that if it is possible for you to be you, then do it, no matter the cost, as long as you can survive. If you can’t survive, then… you’ve just gotta wear the mask. And I’m sorry to say that, but…
Wear the mask. Don’t become the mask.
* Though I do hate their god, this is unrelated to my being an atheist.
** I don’t believe in souls, either, but, again, I value effective communication, and you immediately know what I mean when I say this.
^ Homosexuality doesn’t repulse me, to be clear. Obviously, it doesn’t. The thought repulses me because I’m not attracted to guys in the slightest. As far as my sexual orientation goes, there’s no difference for me between the thought of kissing a guy and the thought of kissing a dog. That’s not meant as an insult to men–I’m not comparing men to dogs. I’m simply making the point about the significance of orientation.