Confused, Abused, Mislead: When Children of LGBT Parents Don’t Get It

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it comes to political issues, it is common for each party to look for a spokesperson. This is often  someone with direct personal experience with the issue who happens to take the party’s side. No where has this been more true in recent weeks than for the LGBT community, and LGBT parenting. Sadly, I’m here to write about the spokespersons for the Republican party, who use their childhoods to argue that LGBT people can’t be good parents.  What are they thinking? How can they argue against their own parents?

The Young Turks did a video covering the story of a girl who did just that. It can be viewed here. It’s a very different situation from the one I’m about to discuss, so I’ll let The Young Turks handle it. Sadly, that girl’s not the only one doing this.

I recently stumbled upon an article in which someone else does the same thing. It comes from the extremely biased Witherspoon Institute. They are based in Princeton, NJ, but are not funded by the Ivy League University at all. They actively oppose gay marriage and stem cell research, among other things. One of the people affiliated with them performed a study (see the heading “Regnerus study”) on LGBT parenting which, if you read the page at the link above, appears to have been poorly structured, making its results unreliable.

Of course, my conservative friends think well, it’s in Princeton, a place known for its Ivy League institution. That must mean these articles are well thought out and provide useful information for a serious discussion of an issue like LGBT parenting! A friend of mine shared this article on Facebook, and it’s a bit painful to read. It is written by someone whose father was a transgender woman. In other words, her father was born a man, but felt that was not who she truly was.

The child is very harsh toward her father from the beginning, and says she experienced a great deal of abuse at the hands of her father. I’m not here to argue that that abuse did not happen. Being LGBT does not make a person immune from bad decisions or wrongful actions. As much as I support their rights, no one, of any gender or sexual orientation, should be allowed to abuse anyone.

With that being said, the feeling I get from reading this article is that the child has not been able to separate her father’s abuse from the fact that her father was trans. She has not figured out that it is possible that even if he had been a cisgender male, he might have abused her, though the abuse might have taken a different form. To her, she was abused because her father was trans. In reality, she was abused by her father who happened to be trans. There’s a difference.

In the article, she argues that being abused by her father in ways that related to gender made her disgusted with her body. For example, after describing the abuse, and her father’s tendency to steal her clothing and wear it when she was not around, she says,

I began to hate my body. It was a constant reminder of what my father wanted to become. When I began to wear makeup, I had to block out the images I had of him applying makeup or eye shadow or lipstick. He was destroying my desire to become a woman.

I can understand how this might happen, and I don’t think those feelings she experienced were not real. However, again, she is relating them to the fact that her father is trans, when in reality, I suspect they are the result of the abuse. (She says she experienced emotional and sexual abuse.) Had she had a strong relationship with her father in which there was plenty of trust and stability, I don’t think gender would have mattered, and I don’t think she would have written negatively about her childhood at all.

That’s not what she received from her father, though. She explains, for example, that her father followed the revelation of her gender with the announcement that she never wanted kids. That’s hurtful. My own father used to say something similar when he got mad at us. Before he met my mother, he wanted to be a priest. Instead, he fell in love and got married. When we misbehaved as children, he would say, “I should have been a priest!” and “I shouldn’t have had kids” was implied. (Catholic priests don’t marry or have children. It’s not allowed.) So I empathize with her on this point. That’s not something one should ever hear one’s parent say.

What really bothers me about this story is that this girl seems to assume that all trans people are incapable of raising children in a healthy way, simply because she personally was abused by a trans person. What if the gender identities in this story were reversed, and she argued that all straight people are incapable of raising children because she was abused by a straight person? No one in their right mind would find that plausible. The only reason this story makes sense to some conservative people as a valid argument is that trans people are the minority, so there aren’t as many of them raising children. In other words, most people reading the article were raised by straight people, and are more likely to think, “You know what, maybe this is true.”

That’s a huge assumption to make about a group of people, though. This is just one case. It could just be that that particular person was an abuser for a variety of reasons. For example, the daughter mentions that her father was abused as a child, and we know that can lead a person to become an abuser. Instead of making this connection, however, she hints that the abuse might be what led him to be trans–another version of the misconception that abuse leads to homosexuality.

I wanted to berate this girl for using the wrong pronouns for her transgender parent (I used father here because I think it helped keep track of who was who, though I realize mother might have been the parent’s preferred word.) I have to acknowledge that her upbringing by her (biological) mother may have been very conservative (she married young and seems very religious) so to her, this may not seem cruel or disrespectful even though it likely is to her father. Reading the article as a fairly liberal LGBT ally, I felt torn between feeling bad for the girl, angry with the father for abusing her, and also feeling somewhat sorry for the father as well. I can’t know whether or not a more accepting community would have made a difference, but I wonder whether or not the father would have been a better parent if she had been allowed to be herself. Who knows? This does not excuse her for what she did; it merely adds another level to what is already a very complex situation. It’s impossible to answer that kind of what-if question.

I hope society becomes more accepting. I also hope it can eradicate abuse of all kinds. I hope this girl will eventually get to know a kind, caring LGBT person, and change her mind on this issue. In the meantime, as LGBT people come out and become a visible part of everyday life, at least their rights are improving–and so is public opinion about them.

This is a pretty lousy situation, but it’s written from a very conservative perspective. What are your thoughts about it? All opinions are welcome. Just be respectful and think things through before posting.

Happy thinking!

-Nancy

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