I have been horrified at the conversations I am witnessing about Leelah Alcorn. I am seeing a lot of talk on my Facebook feed (among strangers), and I keep getting notifications from St. Ridley Santos's Powder Room piece on it - which was clearly quite inflammatory for many people. I had to dismiss two comments - one called me closed minded and told me to "grow up loser" (because I guess my inability to tolerate intolerance makes me immature), and the other one just offended me as a rant about how trans people don't really exist (I guess they go through hell and kill themselves for attention).

She was a victim of abuse and there is no other way to frame that; well-intentioned parents don't abuse. Well-intentioned parents get educated and well-intentioned parents listen - ignorance is not an excuse. "Thought they were doing the right thing" might be TRUE, but it doesn't make it any less harmful. I am of the opinion that your intentions are never pure if you do not examine the consequences to your actions - period. Never. Never ever ever pure.

Add to it that I saw this tabloid article, about Angelina & Brad's child Shiloh, who is now going by "John" and saying he is a boy - I haven't seen the words "come out as trans" so I don't want to jump that far. It was linked through my FB and I managed to catch comments which basically brought up the tired point that if a kid comes out as trans, it's probably a phase. People seemed to be arguing that a kid that young can't know (which we all know is not true but ok) and that there is a good chance it is a phase.

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SO FUCKING WHAT? What if it is a phase? What if John decides later on he wants to be Shiloh again and return to being a girl? So what? His parents are letting him express himself; they won't regret that. The worst that happens, when you go through a "phase", is that you look back when you're older and say, "geez, what was I THINKING with that lip liner??"

Apparently, if there is a 1% chance this is a phase, the parents should make sure to bully their child into submission and prevent "phases" from happening, rather than just roll with it and let the kid explore and learn about himself. I am not a parent but I am a firm believer in letting a child define their narrative; it's one thing to say, "you can't dye your hair purple." Quite another to say, "you can't wear all the things you want to wear, look the way you want to look, or be who you feel you are - EVER." I, and many people in my life, suffered to varying degrees by being stifled and controlled by authority figures - in my case, it was not being allowed to express myself artistically and get to dress like a "weirdo" for a while. In others', it was a gay man I know getting bullied out of his intended career as a fashion designer. All because we were not fitting a mold - and the mold is so tight. I assure you, as far as weirdos go, I would have been tame.

To be clear, I do not think children who identify as trans are going through a "phase" and I do not think it is the same condition as wanting to dye your hair purple. I am simply noting that "just a phase" is not actually an argument for their side.