It occurs to me that I’ve made reference to ‘our child’ a number of times without explaining why I choose this particular noun. A few years ago our child informed us that they are non-binary and gave themselves a new name (Alex). Both Ben and I have always been allies of the LGBTI+ community, so we have continued to accept and support Alex, who had put a lot of time and thought into this.
This isn’t to say things ran smoothly from the announcement. It takes a while to remember the new name and pronouns (especially when they are yet to change their legal name). There was a grieving period as we adjusted our hopes and dreams for the little one we nursed as a baby to the whole person now standing in front of us.
There are worries; does calling them my child seem too distant and withdrawn? I continue to hope it doesn’t, as NOBODY understood ‘Sprog’ at all. Will they be caught up in the anger and hurt that those people who don’t want to understand inevitably visit upon the community? I pray constantly for their safety and reassure myself that they are well researched and able to explain their answers to anybody’s questions.
With a lot of people, the 1st conversation follows a predictable format. “Do you have any children?” ‘Yes, 1.’ “a boy or girl?” ‘neither’ I say which gets a look of confusion. ‘They’re non-binary’ I explain “what does that mean?” ‘they don’t associate with being a boy or girl, they feel those terms don’t describe who they are and they choose what aspects of style and behaviour they like based on their feelings instead.’
The confused look often continues until eventually, I find a way to phrase the answer in a way that makes sense to them. This is as much a problem with my descriptive skills as anything else, I’ll admit I still don’t completely understand what it all means myself.
What I do know is that Alex is a valuable member of society that deserves the chance to show the world what they can offer. That if I use the terms Alex has asked for, they feel loved, whole, safe, and connected. I know that after that 1st conversation most people will accept the premise, and are fine with Alex being themselves as well.
Imagine how great the world would look if everyone could feel whole and safe and be able to share their gifts with those around them without fear.
What a wonderful Life that would be!