A Transgender Man’s Touching Mother’s Day Tribute
Hallmark’s social media campaign #PutYourHeartToPaper recently introduced a new Mother’s Day-themed version of their heartwarming interviews, in which participants talk about their loved ones on camera without using the words, “I love you.” Perhaps the most moving of the nine-segment series is by a transgender man named Alex, who pays tribute to his mother, Pam.
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“When she hugs me, she really hugs me,” he says in the footage, posted on YouTube April 22, and streamed more than 10,000 times. “And when you get a good hug that is something that makes you feel safe and loved and she’s the only one who has that effect on me.”
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Alex, who calls his mom, “the most light, bright, positive person I’ve ever met in my life,” continues on to share just how much her affection has made an impact on his life.
“I’ve never felt home in my body,” he admits, tearing up. “And even though I was born a girl, I’ve always felt like I was a boy. I was afraid to tell her because I thought love would have conditions. And the unconditional love that she’s shown has made me a better person in all of my relationships… I am who I am because of who she is and who she’s been to me.”
When Pam steps out from a side room she quickly demonstrates the love Alex spoke about. “You don’t have to do anything to thank me,” she says embracing him tightly. “I’m your mama bear and you’re my cub always. I love you.”
Aside from showing a sweet sentiment, the exchange is significant in that it reveals the truly transformative power of acceptance.
“At a time when transgender young people are being bullied and attacked at home and in school and even politically bullied by state legislators and school boards, seeing a mother’s love means the world for trans kids and parents of transgender kids who are on their own journeys,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality tells Yahoo Parenting.
Unfortunately, accepting parents aren’t yet the norm. According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 57 percent of 6,500 respondents experienced significant family rejection.
With that comes some serious consequences. “Gay and transgender teens who were highly rejected by their parents and caregivers were at very high risk for health and mental health problems when they become young adults,” finds research from the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University. The organization reports that highly rejected teens were more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide, nearly 6 times as likely to report high levels of depression, more than 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs, and more than 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
“The world outside has so many people who don’t understand or outright reject people who are transgender,” Pamela Wool, Director of Family Services and Administration at Gender Spectrum, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Having a mom and/or a dad who does [understand] gives you a safety zone. Understanding, accepting, and celebrating your child is vital to their sense of self and knowing that there is nothing wrong with them.”
Parents are, as Alex describes in his testimonial, central to how you feel about yourself.
“If you start expressing gender differently from most people in the world and have parent who says, ‘No you can’t do that. No I won’t call you the name you want,’ that can devastate a child and limits them being themselves on a very basic level,” says Wool. “And the energy that takes away from a kid not being his full self — versus a parent who says, ‘I see you I see who you really are, you can be that person and grow into whoever it is you are and I will help you along your path whatever that may be,’— that is a very different experience. It’s a much harder path. When people aren’t their full selves the whole world misses out on who that person could be and what they could contribute to the world.”
On Mother’s Day, “We should celebrate parents like Pam who show unconditional love of their kids, urges Keisling. “But we also must call attention to and support transgender kids who might not be as lucky."