I began to think about this transition as they call it in the transgender community. I began to think about what it meant to our family. For our son who had been born in a body that just didn’t feel right, it meant fully owning who he was all along at his core.
For us, yes, it meant using a new name and gender, but still appreciating he was the same person inside. I decided to see it as a chance to make my own transition too: to become a better person, a more tolerant person, a person who speaks up for an act in the interest of the LGBT community, and many other victims of discrimination.
Transgender kids, and adults have been in the news a lot lately. I’m very happy about all the progress and support but the haters have also come out of the closet, saying nothing, doing nothing. That wasn’t an option for me anymore.
That would be like openly attacking my own son and all the other brave and beautiful individuals carving out their own paths in the face of such hatred and adversity.
I chose to see it differently. I chose to see our situation as an opportunity and a blessing. I chose to do the right thing, which I thought was the hard thing. But actually, it wasn’t that hard.
You see, we always have a choice, unconditional love and acceptance, or change. We either unconditionally love and accept ourselves, or those parts of ourselves, or our situation, or we change something which is mustn’t stay stuck and unhappy.
Think about a physical aspect of yourself that you don’t really like. It could be anything. You’re not going to say it out loud.
Got it in your mind? Okay, well with the exception of your height or maybe the size of your feet, I think you’d agree that you could change just about anything else if you really wanted to. Your hair color, hair style, we do it all the time, eye color, got these fancy contact lenses nowadays.
How about your weight? I’m an expert in this one having lost 100 pounds. It was the same 20 pounds five times but still.
All right, thinking about that aspect of yourself if you had to choose between unconditional love and acceptance, or change, which would you choose? And if it’s something that you really can’t change, like your height, I suggest you choose unconditional love and acceptance.
Now think about an aspect of your character or personality or behavior of yours that you don’t really like. Could you change it? Could you become more patient? Less nervous? More generous, less angry?
Again, if you had to choose between unconditional love and acceptance, or change, which would you choose? Thinking about these things make some people feel defensive or upset.
Some people even make excuses for their personality defects. They say to me, that’s just the way I am, I’ve always been short tempered, I’ve never been very organized. This is resistance. Plain and simple.
We know it’s going to be hard or painful or scary to make a change, and we think it’s easier not to change. But there may come a time when you look at yourself and say enough. There may come a time when you can’t lie to yourself and others any longer.
There may come a time when it’s actually easier to make the change, then have things stay as they are. Now that time might be right now, it might be tomorrow, it might be next week, it might be when something comes along and shakes up your world, like what happened to me.
Or it could be every single conscious moment of every day. Becoming aware is what we call mindfulness these days. Living consciously or mindfully means staying aware and choosing to improve ourselves or our situation all the time.
When someone close to you makes a change that affects you too and makes you feel angry or fearful, you can use that anger or fear as a catalyst for change.
If your son or daughter, father or mother, sister or brother is going through their own battle or change, it’s up to you how you deal with it, and how fast. They may tell you they’re gay, or trans or struggling with debt, or getting divorced, they may have a life-threatening illness and addiction, they may be depressed, self-harming.
When something happens in your life that you didn’t expect, or maybe didn’t want, you can stick your head in the sand like I did at first, or you can choose to change something, including yourself.
If someone you know is going through something, ask yourself, could I do something to change this? What could I do? What if I just changed my attitude about it? Ask yourself if you could choose unconditional love and acceptance, so that you could move forward.
Now, I’m not perfect. I still don’t always get this right. And I’m still learning and changing. For example, the other day, I learned that we shouldn’t say we’re being tolerant, did you know that means we’re tolerating a person or a situation.
I learned that, and I learned about the two options that I’ve been talking about, by openly planning and discussing this TEDx talk with my amazing son. He’s a really talented communicator, and a very good friend to many, including me.
But mostly, I learned that we’re not always doing the best we can with the resources we have. We’re not, we could usually do better but that involves changing ourselves.