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Not my circus!

Posted on Mar 2, 2016

I recently saw someone comment on a Facebook post with “Not my monkey, not my circus!” and I immediately adopted that saying. It works for everything!

“Those kids are so badly behaved.” – not my monkey, not my circus. *shrug*

“That woman is such a nag.” – not my monkey, not my circus. *shrug*

“Why don’t those parents let their kids be who they want to be?” – not my monkey, not my circus. *shrug*

It’s none of my business how people choose to act, react, raise their children, handle their families, etc. I have no control over anyone’s choices but my own. As long as no one is being abused, I have to stay out of it. And I expect the same in return – mind your own business. Inquire, sure. But don’t judge (at least openly), don’t offer suggestions, don’t question my decisions.

But some things I want to make public. Some things I want to leave out in the open so they are available to anyone and everyone. Not personal things, but general things. Like the challenges facing our family as we raise our (probably) transgendered child. In that spirit, I write articles about my Rainbow and post them in “The Ryder Report” category on my blog. I also started an Instagram account (@Ryderstyle) where I post pictures of his outfits – he has a great fashion sense!

We named him Ryder at birth, and while this is a traditionally male name, it seems to not confuse people when they refer to Ryder as “her” and “she”. They don’t ask “isn’t that a male name?”. Whew! I suppose in this day and age we have heard it all – I personally know women named Darryl and Ryan, and didn’t Ryan Reynolds name his daughter James? Awesome!

I’m not a stellar parent – far from it – but I believe in giving my children freedom of expression. Want to dye your hair? Great! I’ll go buy a box of dye! Want to pierce your ears? Cool! How about we put it in the upper lobe so you’re not like everyone else? Want to wear different coloured socks? Sweet! How about two different shoes to match? Nope – that’s going too far, Mom…

But not everyone has this luxury. Some people are from a culture where this is unacceptable. Some have religious beliefs that don’t allow for nature’s mistakes (IS it a mistake? I’m not so sure!) Some people live in small communities where different = outcast. Even living on the wrong side of a big city can cause a kerfuffle. Often the conflict comes from within the family itself – a sibling, a parent, a grandparent. And sometimes the conflict is internal – you want to let them express themselves but you yourself cannot accept that your child doesn’t want to be their birth gender.

Heartbreaking. But take heart – the world is changing! Hurray! More and more people won’t bat an eye when you say your child is transgendered. I’ve had strangers hug me when they find out Ryder’s a boy. People have sought me out just to tell me how they admire my parenting, letting my son express himself freely. I’ve gotten messages from people I’ve never met who praise me for my open-mindedness. But make no mistake – this has not been an easy road! And some of the obstacles have come from within our own family. There were times when I thought forcing him to be more boyish would just be easier… but my heart knew better.

So as we navigate this new road in this wonderful age of acceptance and anti-bullying, I welcome connections with┬áthose who are on this same journey. I will support you in any way you need – an ear, maybe some commiseration, or just a cup of tea. I’m in.

It’s not my monkey, it’s not my circus. But I’m a carnie, and I’d love to hear about your circus!