Thank you, Detroit Free Press, for publishing my opinion piece online today (and in the print edition Sunday, 6/3): I am the parent of a non-binary child. And thank you to editor Jewel Gopwani for recognizing the importance of this issue and asking me to modify the original blog post for a wider audience. Let’s keep the conversation going.
If you spend any time with me at all, I will talk about my children. I will tell you about Josh’s latest cooking adventures, about Sammy’s internship and about Miriam’s plans to move to California.
And I will correct your pronouns.
My oldest is non-binary – neither male nor female – despite appearances, name and everything you think you know about them.
We have learned to refer to them with the pronouns they, them and their, which, I will admit, makes for some awkward sentences, but the underlying issue is one of identity. As a parent and ally, I can learn to live with (and eventually even let go of) this discomfort. For my child, being mis-gendered (or mistaken for the wrong gender) is a daily occurrence, and it hurts.
The essay I have been looking for either hasn’t been written, hasn’t been published, or is hidden beyond my search engine’s reach. I have been composing it in my head for months, but now I can write the first draft, because Friday my child came out to the world.
The essay I’m not done writing is about becoming the parent of a queer, non-binary, young adult child. I say becoming because until my eldest came out, I told myself I had a daughter. Now I am getting used to the idea of having a non-binary child. And while that distinction may seem merely a clumsy trick of the English language, the implications run deep. More on that another time.
My husband and I are experiencing something that is both utterly unique and increasingly common. Here’s a peek into the types of conversations I’ve had during the last year with well-meaning relatives and friends. Continue reading