The story of my "cause"

Yesterday morning, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across this post, "An Open Letter to the Church from My Generation," pleading with the (Christian) church to be more progressive on LGBTQ issues. I admit that I guffawed a little at the idea that *that* would ever happen, growing up as I did in an extremely conservative Lutheran Church.

When I was twelve years old and in the seventh grade, the pastor of my church taught my co-ed confirmation class, and I have a powerful memory of the class in which he taught that homosexual men and women defecate and urinate on one another to derive sexual pleasure. On Confirmation Sunday, when there were many guests come to see this right of passage, he chose to preach not the gospel, but hellfire and damnation for Gays.

At seventeen, I discovered the Original Soundtrack of the musical RENT, and the culture shock I experienced cannot be overstated. I think I listened twice before I realized that Angel (my favorite character, by far) was, in fact, a cross-dressing gay man. It (along with greater exposure to the World At Large) was a step in my slow transition from conservative-minded to open-minded and eventually, in my adulthood, to what I like to call pinko-hippie-liberal (and, not coincidentally, a Unitarian Universalist).

In the midst of coffee and conversation with a friend last week, it came out that the LGBTQ fight for equality and acceptance is one of my personal "causes." She asked why, I'm sure expecting a story of gay friends or family. But you know, I didn't really have such a story. When I became a surrogate, I decided that I would choose to work exclusively with gay couples, because many surrogates outright refuse to work with anyone but a straight couple or individual, and I felt gay couples deserved as much as anyone else the chance for biological family. But at that point, I already felt strongly about LGBTQ equality.

Regardless of its cause, I'm coming to see my seemingly random change of heart about LGBTQ people and their lives as nothing short of grace. I describe myself as agnostic or at the very least nontheist, but sometimes I DO feel like there is an invisible hand guiding my life. Maybe it's just luck.


As I continued reading the Open Letter blog post, I came to the music video of Macklemore's song, "Same Love." About halfway through, my youngest child, J, climbed into my lap and asked me to start it over. As I watched it again, with J on my lap - this child who is so sweet and good and full of hope and love and all of the good things in the world - I cried. I cried for J's innocence. I cried imagining MY CHILD bullied and tormented and 8.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than other children. I cried and I kissed my baby's face and hair and told my child "I love you. I love you. I love you."

This wasn't just random imaginings on my part. You see, J is extremely gender nonconforming. I would even go so far as to call J gender fluid (before I knew there was such a term - thank you, Google - I made up my own word and described J as flex-gendered). It's not just that my kid likes wearing
cross-gender hairstyles and fashion. It's not that J's play is particularly gender-variant (actually, J's play is pretty gender-stereotypical). It's not even just that J has "married" a same-sex church-friend. It's more that J self-identifies as a "girlboy... or a boygirl" in addition to gender-variant tastes and preferences.

Could this be a phase? Sure. But given the length of time this has been going on, and that it's gotten more and not less pronounced over time, it's unlikely that J will grow up to be both cisgender and straight. In fact, studies show that between 60-85% of boys (specifically, there is less correlation for girls) who exhibit this sort of gender variant behavior grow up to be bisexual, gay, or transgendered.
"Green (1974, 1987) has conducted the most comprehensive prospective study of boys with marked patterns of childhood cross-gender behavior. This study contained a sample of 66 feminine and 56 control boys assessed initially at a mean age of 7.1 years (range = 4–12 years). About two thirds of the boys in each group were followed long enough so that their sexual orientation could be assessed in late adolescence (M = 18.9 years; range = 14–24 years). Data from a semistructured clinical interview were used to rate sexual orientation in fantasy and behavior on Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin's (1948, pp. 636–641) 7-point sexual orientation continuum, where 0 = exclusive heterosexuality and 6 = exclusive homosexuality. Depending on the measure (fantasy or behavior), 75%–80% of the previously feminine boys were either bisexual or homosexual (Kinsey ratings of 2–6) at follow- up as compared with 0%–4% of the control boys.
"Green's (1987) results were similar to those of six other follow-up reports of boys who displayed marked cross- gender behavior (Bakwin, 1968; Davenport, 1986; Kosky, 1987; Lebovitz, 1972; Money & Russo, 1979; Zuger, 1984)...Because a strong empirical link between childhood sex-typed behavior and sexual orientation has been established for men in both prospective and retrospective studies, it is likely to be genuine."

Maybe I didn't have a story, a "why" to go along with my strong feelings about LGBTQ rights and equality, but I do now.  When you speak, or even think, about gay men or transgender women, there is every possibility that you are speaking of the hopeful future of this sweet little person in my lap. That if you feel hate or disgust, these eyes are the ones that will fill with tears. That if you try to keep away basic human rights, to prevent sanctioned love and connection, that it is MY BABY whose heart you are breaking. That when you speak words of hate that filter down to the next generation, my child will bear the abuse that flows from them.

If my son grows up to be my daughter, or if my little boy grows up to be a man who loves men, will you think less of him, of me? Will you try to change his beautiful heart?

Addendum: If you think I'm jumping to conclusions or otherwise boxing my child in, please read this follow-up.

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  1. This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.


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