We teach our sons and daughters to think for themselves, to experience the world and grow into their own skin, to stand up for themselves. We tell them if they do this, everything will be okay. But, sometimes they grow into round shapes that don’t fit into society’s square hole, so we worry.
It starts with bullying because kids know before anyone. We try to wash away the dirty words: tomboy, gay boy, faggot. We wipe away tears and hug and keep a watchful eye. We remind them they’re loved. Still, we worry.
We take our “sons” to the mall to pierce their ears and buy skirts. We help bind our “daughters’” breasts. We sign paperwork to change names: licenses, birth certificates, passports. We walk two steps behind down the street and see people stare, hear people whisper.
We read books and drive to neighboring towns to attend support groups. We stop getting invited to family get-togethers. We build protective cocoons. We wonder what more we can do.
Our kids are told: You’re a freak. You don’t belong here. You’d be better off dead. We read statistics. When we aren’t there to stop them, we worry our children will agree. We send our sons and daughters to liberal colleges in conservative states and worry they’ll drive off campus, get a flat tire and end up a national headline.
We worry they won’t get a job. We worry they won’t find love.
We watch the news. A sixteen-year-old transgender girl is stabbed to death by classmates in a park in the middle of the day. Our heart rates quicken when our children don’t immediately answer the phone or return our texts. We worry the worrying will never end.