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All I Want For Mother’s Day Is Equality For My Transgender Child

| May 6, 2019

Partisanship over what? (Shutterstock)

Partisanship over what? (Shutterstock)

By Karen Dolan

What mother on earth doesn’t want equality and health for her child? I certainly do.

I gave birth nearly two decades ago to a healthy, beautiful, intelligent child, who cried more than I thought she would and whose tutu-wearing terrible twos persisted into her tiara-wearing terrible threes. This willful nature turned out to be both her most challenging and her finest quality.

She skipped kindergarten because her mind was so sharp. She built fairy houses during recess and enlisted the whole school in creating a moss-covered, magical twig town. She wrote poems about springtime and belted out preteen pops songs about cute boys. She was popular among her girlfriends.

But she wasn’t allowed to use the girls’ bathroom. She had shoes thrown at her head when she wore leggings and lacy tops. She endured public school teachers making the sign of the cross and running off when she walked between classes.

All because my daughter was born transgender.

In high school she became part of the solution. She became an advocate for transgender youth, who suffer discrimination and violence at alarming rates.

With the help of her mentors, she eventually brought her advocacy to Obama White House, where she helped Education Secretary Arne Duncan craft guidance making sure Title IX included nondiscrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming students.

Then came the Trump administration — and the equality that she and so many had fought for was cruelly ripped away. Almost immediately, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded the very guidance protecting her that my daughter had helped to craft.

My willful child was able to meet with DeVos. She explained what this would mean for children like her who would again be denied the use of the bathroom — and who would continue to be hit, suspended, and bullied by students and teachers alike.

But DeVos and Trump don’t care about my daughter’s welfare. They want her very human and civil right to exist in public spaces to disappear.

other-wordsAt the National Prayer Breakfast on May 2, Trump told an audience of right-wing religious leaders about a sweeping new rule that will allow medical professionals and employers to deny health care to transgender children and adults for so-called “religious reasons.”

He’s already banned transgender soldiers from serving in the military. He’s already rescinded protections for transgender students in schools. And he’s already stricken the very word “transgender” from any publication by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, a beacon in the storm came a day before the ominous Prayer Breakfast announcement: The House Judiciary Committee passed The Equality Act, and it’s expected to pass the full House.

This could be a historic victory — not only for my child and the LGBTQIA community, women, and people of color, but for principle of equality for all that must stand in any democratic society.

The Equality Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and many subsequent civil rights-related acts so that they will explicitly and consistently, across all states, provide equal protection against discrimination for the categories of gender identity and sexual orientation.

So that my child can have the same health care as your child. So that my child can have the same right to education, housing, transportation, credit, employment, and existence as your child. So that my child may live freely and equally to others.

My child continues to use her voice loudly and effectively. She is not bowed. But her very right to exist is threatened even more now than when people were throwing shoes at her head.

All I want for Mother’s Day is equality for my child — and for other children and adults like her. Is this any different from what every mother wants?

Karen Dolan directs the Criminalization of Race and Poverty Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. 

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15 Responses for “All I Want For Mother’s Day Is Equality For My Transgender Child”

  1. Mark says:

    Your “child” is 20+ years old and she is denied health care by whom? Transgender at birth? How did he tell you he was transgender at birth? Speaking right out of the womb? Was he declared transgender by the delivery doctor? Sounds more like he was pushed into this transgenderness.

  2. Jim mullin says:

    Prayers are with your family . We all are born with our own rights to live the life we want. Hope the future holds nothing but great things for you and her.

  3. Randy Jones says:

    “IA” is new to me. What is it?

  4. Born and Raised Here says:

    I don’t beleive a child can be transgender at birth, Perhaps the way the child was raised developed there mind to choice what sex they want to be. Okay so a child may have feminist or masculine traits, but you were created to be the sex you were created to be, Don’t mess with your Creator.

  5. flagler1 says:

    Gender Dysphoria is listed in the DSM-5 diagnostic manual for the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      The same manual listed homosexuality as a mental disorder until 1973. The manual’s mental state may not be all that reliable.

  6. Concerned Citizen says:

    Here’s a thought.

    How about equal rights for all? Why not stop labeling everything and make sure that everyone is treated equally. Human rights should be just that.

  7. Ricardo Cabeza says:

    Your child wasn’t born “transgender”. Why was the child put into girls’ clothing at age 2? This was not an example of a child discovering a gender preference on their own, you pushed your son into this life. You are a child abuser.

  8. MR G says:


  9. Lia says:

    Trans rights are human rights. :)

  10. Brad says:

    “Gender Dysphoria” and gender non-conformity, while they can be related, are NOT one and the same thing. According to the DSM-V, Gender Dysphoria has to do with the distress a person feels when that person realizes that their body and their gender identity do not match. Feelings of depression and anxiety can result, which ultimately could lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior. That is what makes Gender Dysphoria a mental health issue – the distress, not the gender identification dilemma itself. And think of how you would feel if you realized that your birth body is not consistent with your understanding of your gender? Gender non-conformity (adopting a transgender identity) is a reaction to these feelings of distress. Living out one’s life in accordance with the gender one identifies as one’s own, not in accordance with one’s physiology. So, gender non-conformity is a healthy response to feelings of depression and anxiety, and it is NOT a mental disorder. I am not transgender, but I feel for those who are and the misunderstanding, hatred, bigotry, abuse, discrimination and rejection that they constantly have to endure. They are our own fellow human beings and children of God and are worthy of the rights and privileges anyone else would enjoy. More power to them. Keep on keeping on. Live and let live.

  11. Traveling Rep says:

    @ Pierre: The same manual has aided the vast majority of psych professionals in correctly diagnosing their patients since like the beginning of time. The main reason that Homosexuality was removed was due to rampant protests by nutty leftists!

    If I can’t magically proclaim that I am a giraffe and it be accepted, I certainly will not play along with a boy calling himself a girl! Run what ya brung!

    Parents encouraging this fantasy behavior are the root cause, and are only doing their children a grave disservice.

  12. Bill says:

    Just because one feels like, thinks they are, or has a meant disorder does NOT mean every one else should or MUST go along with such.

  13. Brad says:

    I wonder if those who say, “run what ya brung” and “don’t mess with your Creator” consistently apply this viewpoint to babies born with a heart defects, to conjoined twins who could be surgically separated, or to those born with cleft palates. There are a number of situations in which a person’s natural-born body can propose problematic issues, resulting in life-threatening emergencies, disabilities, pain or distress if left untreated. And what about those situations in which people choose to undergo elective surgery to improve their appearance? And what about something as simple as a tattoo, in which you are changing your skin? (Tattoos, incidentally, are forbidden according to the Bible – Leviticus 19:28.) It seems to me that no reasonable person would have a problem with any of these situations. So why not apply them to a transgender person? Human sexuality is something virtually everyone has strong feelings about, but very few people have actually studied it on a scientific level, focusing on current research. Instead their feelings and opinions are based on their own experiences, what they were taught growing up, and their own prejudices. Anecdotal stuff. This makes for limited perspectives and uninformed opinions. We fear what we don’t understand. And then we reject it. How about keeping an open mind? There are other cultures (such as American Indigenous ones) that have always recognized and accommodated more than two gender identities within their populations. Why can’t we have this in our society? Transgender people aren’t hurting anyone. All they want to do is live their lives as they understand themselves to be. If you don’t like it, ask yourself why that is.

  14. Citizen says:

    This mother is all about her own attention. She said her child was too smart for kindergarten? I can believe she knew her colors, numbers and sure, some reading and math, but kindergarten is about social skills, learning how to adapt in a classroom environment with other kids- there is an entire curriculum based on this. I am appalled that this “mother” decided to make her child transgender as a baby. If this child is transgender, dress them in neutral clothing and raise them as your child- not male or female, then at let the child decide their gender choice when they are mature enough to do so.

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