Gender. It has caused many people great pain and conflict; both with the world they live in and their internal universe. Most kids with gender identity issues cannot be truthful about them, causing added stress and helplessness. As sad as it is, there are still enough people out there who are uneducated in human biology to know that it is not a chosen ‘deviant’ lifestyle, it’s hormonally pre-determined in almost all cases. And then there are those who just choose to be immobile about their opinion, almost to the point where any deviation besmirches or endangers their own perceived gender. It’s easy to understand why a child trapped in the system would learn to hate their own identity or suppress it altogether. They know it can make the prospective family find a reason not to take them.

Being a heterosexual female, this has never directly effected my life. Like most hetero children, I played sex games with the other girls for a brief period of our adolescence, but that was more about curiosity. Then in my twenties, I really wanted to get all of my fantasies out of my system before I was at the age to settle down and devote my life primarily to being a mother. I was with two women; one in a threesome which only went to fooling around and one alone but it felt wrong. I’m lucky. I know without a doubt that health issues aside, I was definitely born in the right body. I’m very happy being a woman except for that whole being seen as a second class citizen and still getting paid less than a man. That and penis envy whenever I need to urinate under inconvenient circumstances, but I digress.

A situation evolved while we have been working on KINDRED, which between several hospitalizations, both Rachel’s parents dying and trying desperately to find a consistent editor came at me as a total surprise. Rachel’s wife Kim decided that she really wanted to transition gender to male. Gay I’m used to as a former theatre actress, but this was my first trans. I didn’t know what to say but,”….ahhhh, o-kaaay. How are you with this decision? You’re attracted to women and your partner will now be a male. I totally support anything you and your spouse decide and I love you, this is just completely new to me.” She explained that I could ask about anything and that it’s new to her for it to be Kim becoming Tyson, her husband.

Rachel put it so simply. She said that this was something Kim had always wanted and that she, Rachel, loves the heart and soul of the being she is with and that keeps the attraction going. I was floored and we’ve been trading flooring revelations for decades. The term unconditional love is thrown around so often, but is usually reserved for our own children. I know there is nothing in this world or any other that would make me stop loving my son like a tiger. He could kill someone, I’d be there with lime, shovels and a map of the desert as fast as I could. But it’s rarely demonstrated between spouses. Rachel struck me with her words, so clear and certain. I asked what I should refer to her as and she said as a lesbian in a committed relationship with a man. Because love is not of the physical world, it’s of our soul. God I love my partner.

The hearts and souls of these kids are what we should find most important, not who they want to date. Most gay or questioning kids and teens end up homeless or having to suppress their true nature so hard that it can come out in bursts of seemingly inexplicable violence toward themselves or others. That must be agony. To spend everyday looking in the mirror, hating who you see and resenting the situation. Many are told they are going to hell. To tell anyone, much less a child, that they will be punished eternally for just being themselves is disgusting. And saying it to a foster child who is already in a living hell is reprehensible and should result in assault charges if said by a psychiatric professional or parental figure. That’s about as far from what a truly spiritually enlightened being would think or say.

I personally believe religion just confuses people and causes conflict although I respect the right of everyone to warship in whatever constitutionally protected way they wish. You don’t need religion to have a relationship with your higher power. What’s being done to many of these kids isn’t about religion much less spirituality, it’s fear. I don’t think people fully grasp that everyday that individual child or teen chooses not to give up is a victory. The future is bleak and uncertain. The present is filled with loneliness and pain. I know exactly what that feels like, which is part of why these kids are my heroes and what is being done to them cannot be allowed to continue. Even for a “normal” child, the chances of being adopted after the age of ten drop by 50%. They are contending with enough obstacles to a stable life much less ever feeling like a part of society. We all should be doing anything we can to facilitate that integrative process.

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