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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day from NCTE

Happy Father's Day from NCTE! Today we bring you a post from JR, the father of a trans child in Washington, D.C.

Today, Father’s Day, marks one week since the tragedy in Orlando where so many lives were taken in an egregious act of hate and terror towards the LGBTQ community. As the dad of a young transgender daughter, it is beyond comprehension that someone felt they had the right to take another’s life over who they are. My heart truly goes out to each of the victims, and their families. June is Pride Month, when we are given an extra opportunity to celebrate the LGBTQ community and to highlight the challenges that community faces. In part, that means leading by example: treating everyone fairly, and working to end the systemic causes that lead to these horrific mass shootings.

In light of all that is happening in our world right now, supportive and loving families are especially important. I want to wish the LGBTQ community a Happy Father's Day whether you yourself are an LGBTQ father or you’re the parent of an LGBTQ child.  Since last year—when my daughter announced to me and my wife that she was a girl, not a boy—my role as a supportive father has not changed. What did change is the question of how to support her. Until that point, I didn't really know what it means to be transgender. I only knew that my wife and I were unconditional champions for our kids, wanting them to be the best people that they wanted to be. After my daughter came out, I became a more proactive father: I read books about trans identity, researched what it means to be the parent of a transgender child, and talked with my wife about how to continue to support both our children.

Having a trans kid has given me a different perspective on what it means to be a true ally and champion for my child, and given me practice at loving her uniqueness. Being a dad to a trans kid meant my most vulnerable emotions—ones men traditionally hold so close that they often vanish inside—were exposed; it felt like someone was ripping off pieces of clothing and leaving me bare. I never wore my emotions or feelings on my sleeve, but loving my trans daughter has taken me on a journey toward acknowledging all those feelings (fear, sadness, anxiety, happiness, joy, and more) so that I could ultimately let my daughter know that it was okay (better yet, that it was great!) for her to be herself. 

I’m still learning. I'm becoming more vocal about the issues that trans people face every day. I’m advocating for my daughter’s rights, and the rights of her transgender peers. I'm speaking out and standing proud. After all, I am extremely proud of my trans daughter, proud to be her supportive father, proud of my courageous family; it's the only way I know to how to be. 

LISTEN, LEARN, SUPPORT, ADVOCATE, LOVE. Happy Father's Day!

JR and his wife, Vanessa, live in Washington, DC and are raising two wonderful kids, cisgender six year-old Ronnie and their five year-old transgender daughter, Ellie. They recently had a peice about being parents to a trans child published in the Washington Post, and are strong supporters and advocates for equality in the LGBTQ Community.

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