I wanted to share this post from Amy. Please check it out and let me know what you think in the comments. I was utterly moved because really she is right and “friend” has no gender.
“FRIEND” HAS NO GENDER
By Amy Kaufman Burk
In a small town in the Midwest, three years ago, a seventh grader named “Billy” came out to her parents as transgender. Billy was born with the body of a boy, and the identity of a girl. She’s the T in LGBTQIA.
Billy spent her childhood living outwardly as male, but inside she was confused and frightened. At times, she felt like a boy, at times like a girl, at times identifying as both male and female, not knowing how to belong anywhere. In the past year, however, Billy grew certain that living authentically meant living as a girl. Having made her decision, she felt calmer, steadier, comfortable in her own skin. For the first time in her young life, she felt normal.
Billy has a close relationship to her parents, who supported her through each step of this process. Respecting their daughter’s wishes, they continued to call her “Billy”, but switched to female pronouns — “her” and “she”.
Her parents were also aware that some of the most difficult parts of this process stretched beyond “gender identification”. Billyalways hated being the center of attention, and dreaded the spotlight. She feared losing her friends – hard at any age, and especially rough as a middle school teenager. As it turned out, the spotlight was initially an issue; but after a while, people settled down. However, from the first day back at school, her friendship group accepted her as the same “Billy” they had known since third grade.
The gender spectrum is complex, nuanced and layered – just like the spectrum of any aspect of being human. We would never try to confine our emotional spectrum to two choices (sad and excited? happy and angry?); we would never confine our physical identity to two choices (short and strong? tall and brunette?). Limiting gender identity to two possibilities – girl/boy, male/female, woman/man – is an approach which works for some, but not for all.
Billy’s family provided a strong role model for helping a daughter or son deal with any issue of identity, gender or otherwise. Her parents attended to their daughter’s gender identity issues, and at the same time, remained sensitive to her as a whole person. They were caring, supportive, loving.
And let’s keep in mind that some of the finest words in the English language don’t have a gender. Parent. Teacher. Coach. Teammate. Supporter. Friend.
*All names, geographical references and identifying information have been changed to respect the privacy of “Billy” and her family.
If you would like to learn more about gender non-conforming or transgendered children, the national gender education website is an excellent resource. genderspectrum.org
Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable, a novel by Amy Kaufman Burk
I wrote this novel in reaction to witnessing gay boys bullied in high school. I created the story in support of the LGBTQIA community, as a voice against bullying, and for the people who step forward as role models.
To check out reviews, read 5 chapters – here’s the link: