A friend reached out to me yesterday to see if I was OK. She said, “Everyone I care about is under attack.” My dear friend was referring to the administration’s desire to “erase” trans identities and the slaughter of 11 Jews one week ago today in Pittsburgh. My sorrow, remorse and anger was twofold. I’m a Jewish mother of a transgender child and many transgender friends.
Earlier this week, a 14-year-old trans boy sent me a text. He and I have been in contact now for about a month. He is desperate for his mom’s support, and I’ve been trying to help him bridge the gap with her. The text was to update me as I’ve sent him a few resources to share with his mom in the hope that she would come around and accept his authentic identity.
She told him that she has no interest in reading anything or talking to anyone who takes his side. She told him that nothing will change for her. She doesn’t “believe” in it. The “it” being transgender identities.
As a parent, my goal has always been to support my children; to love them unconditionally; to parent with guidance, boundaries and love; and to show them that there are all sorts of people in the world.
It is my job to reinforce that they may not be friends with everyone and not everyone will like them or want to be their friend, but that they need to be kind.
When my son came out to me as transgender nearly six years ago, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t have any transgender friends or a community I could turn to. However, I did know that I loved my child with every fiber of my being. I knew that I would do whatever it took to get the support he needed; to find the resources necessary so he could have a future.
I can’t pretend it was easy. There were a lot of bumps and bruises along the way, deep potholes that tripped us up numerous times, but we kept going. This is parenting. No one ever said it would be easy.
Also, I cannot have attended Wayne State University’s transgender protest of Trump-initiated hatred without mentioning that 11 of my Jewish community members were also gunned down recently for no reason in the sanctuary where they came for peace. They were there to pray to God, to thank God for another week: fathers, brothers, sons, grandmothers, friends, husbands and wives were gunned down for no reason other than the fact that they were Jewish.
I am a cisgender, heterosexual white Jewish woman who raised a family to be kind and fair and to value others. I will never know what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a transgender person, to be dismissed because of who I am.
However, I do know what it’s like to be hated just because I pray to a different God. We need to make change. We need to vote for people who believe in your transgender rights, the rights of our families and children and neighbors.
We need to rally together as a community. Together we are stronger and mightier. We are all so much more than our gender. Let’s show the world how amazing we truly are. Shalom. Peace.
Roz Keith is the founder and board president of Stand With Trans. To find out more about that organization, visit standwithtrans.org.