When my son was twelve years old I heard him say I hate George Bush. That did not go over well with me and he soon received an earful of proud American advice. Full disclosure, this past year I stood in line for many hours with my eighteen year-old transgender daughter Nicole to register as a Democrat for the first time. Previously I was an independent and for many years I was a Ronald Regan loving Republican.
By many people’s definition I am still a conservative man, however I am not a social conservative, just a fairly common guy, trying to help his wife raise a transgender daughter and a son to adulthood without harm. It has not always been easy to do so.
Recently I relived giving my young son that advice at a Tedx talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tzEpqDtaPE). It was difficult and emotional. It released some of my pain and anger, but the fear is still there. I tried to help our state and nation learn a little bit more about what it is like to raise a transgender child. The entire talk once again rocked me to the core. Today we all need to think about hate, fear and change. I am not sure what the outcome will be, but I know there will still be anger, hate and fear no matter the outcome. The anger and fear for my family and so many others is real and I still try to not say I hate anyone. For many of us fears are not about the economy, taxes, the right to bear arms or a strong military, they are much more personal. Daily challeneges as we fear for our children’s safety, their health and their freedom to be who they truly are. When you live with these fears it is hard to not hate. I have to find a way to teach my children to not hate again and to not to let hate creep back into my world. The first step is reaching out to educate the people I fear.
Our families are normal families that have been placed in not so normal situations. Our families are not that different from those who are afraid of us. I like to hunt and fish. I just finished rebuilding a 30-06 rifle that harvested my first Maine moose. I love sports, a good micro brew and making baskets. My wife and I struggle to keep our kids in college, worry about them driving and hope they find jobs that they will love. I am a Veteran that still works hard to do my share to make sure that our nation continues to protect the freedoms that so many have fought and died for. I love my family, our many friends, the United States of America and I am scared.
Almost al normal life challenges, but standing before five hundred people, looking directly into their eyes, the unique painful memories could not be stopped. I spoke about how I had begun to lose faith in the beliefs that have always set the foundation for our family. I used powerful words like honor, justice and equality that helped teach our children to understand their future was bright. Strong words to remind then that faggot, freak, gay and others do not represent our nations values.
I relived telling my son Jonas, “that we were not going to use the word hate anymore, that there was too much hate in the world.” People’s hate and fears forced my family to go into hiding when our children were in still in Middle School. I was so afraid that I started to lose faith in our nation and the words that guided me. It is time for us all to remember what honor, justice and equality stand for.
Today these words will be tested again. Each elector must cast their vote. Each person represents a small glimpse of our nation and what we believe in. I hope each person will have the courage to dig deeper in their souls and get past the hate and fears that have been displayed this election and vote with their hearts.
By the time this is posted the final step in our election will be over. No matter the outcome, I want every American to think about how to move forward. How do we still promote positive change? When Nicole was younger I thought I had all the tools I needed to build a good life for my family. I coached sports, volunteered to help the Cub Scout’s and was a member of our school Parent Teacher’s Organization. That all was taken away when someone new to our community found out that Nicole was transgender. Most in our community did not care, many wanted to learn more and support her. A powerful few were so afraid of our innocent child that she was targeted and feared. We were forced to give up a great deal and we worried about our children’s safety everyday. This devastating fear and behavior is reoccurring across the nation.
It is time for me to get involved again. I am having difficulty controlling my fears, because no matter who wins the anger, hate and fear will continue if we do not do something. We have to control our fears and take the time to reach out to our state and national leaders. We need to help them face and eliminate their fears. We cannot move backwards, the safety of our families, our nation and the world is at stake.
I hope that whomever is placed in a position to lead will help us prove to all of our children that Honor, Justice and Equality still exists for all Americans. I hope for the day that no parent will ever hear their child or neighbor say they hate our President. I am still angry and still afraid, but I will never give up on our great nation. Positive changes must occur for all people, no matter race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. To get there we must all have the courage to ask ourselves why we are afraid and then move forward to help everyone grow.