Having a Gender-Fluid Child
Dear Papa Bear,
I am the mother of a 21-year-old transgender child. He has in the past few years gone through many different identifications in his sexuality, and I'm starting to get a little concerned. When he identified as female, he told me he was a lesbian. This was when he was about 16. Then at 18 he told me he was trans. About 6 months later he said he was straight (still trans). About 6 months after that he decided he was gay. Most recently I asked him if he would like me to make him a trans flag blanket and he said he would prefer a non-binary flag.
Now I have absolutely NO problem with him being any sex or sexuality that he identifies with. What is concerning to me is how quickly he has been bouncing between identifications. I know everybody goes through periods of finding themselves and I'm very happy that he feels comfortable enough to share with me what he is feeling. My question is, is it happening too fast? Should I be concerned that he is changing his mind a couple of times a year for the past 5 years? Or am I just being an over-protective mom?
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Dear Mama Lion,
I'd like to heap praises on you for being a fantastic mom. Your child is lucky to have you!
To the point: based on what you have written, I think your child could be described as "gender-fluid." Gender-fluid is a term describing someone whose gender identity shifts over time--and yes, the time elapsed can be as short as a single day. Gender-fluid people can identify as a man one day, a female the next. They can even identify as asexual, bisexual, transexual, nonbinary, straight, and on and on.
There is also something called "gender-queer." A gender-queer person doesn't tend to shift identity (although they might); they identify as not exclusively male or female. And, yes, you can be both gender-fluid and gender-queer.
Have a headache yet? That might be because many humans (even furries!) suffer from something I call "labelphilia": the desire to stick a label on, identify, and categorize everything. This started all the way back to Adam, when he was putting labels on all the animals.
Adam: I'm going to call you ... an "antelope."
Animal: Excuse me, Adam, but I identify as a lion, sir! And sometimes a giraffe (sticks out tongue and stalks off in a huff).
When we can't categorize everything, we tend to develop anxiety because labels and IDs offer a sense of stability and comfort in a crazy, chaotic world. This is a problem because one of the most complicated things ever invented is human sexuality and gender identity. This kind of anxiety is why many people are homophobic, and it is why most homophobes are simple-minded people (or politicians and clergy using homophobia to manipulate). Homophobes and anti-LGBTQ derps can only see things in black or white; they can't grasp complicated or subtle concepts. They can't believe that not only are there nearly infinite shades of grey in between black and white, but! there are also all the colors of the rainbow. AND! People don't have to be just light-grey or purple, they can be green and orange with a dash of striped grey-and-white thrown in.
Now, being that your child is 21, it should be noted that when people are young they tend to experiment a lot as they try to figure out who they are. This might mean that, as your child ages, the shifts could get less frequent as they settle into something they find comfortable. It might not mean that, but it could.
You can save yourself the trouble by simply not trying to label them at all and not worry about their gender identity so much. You'll save money on antacid purchases. We are much more than our gender and sexual preferences. I don't, for example, go around introducing myself as gay. I introduce myself as Grubbs or Kevin. This should not be too hard for you because you are such a loving and supportive mother, and bless you profusely for that. I wish you were common instead of the exception in this world.
If you still wish to make them a flag blanket, then you could ask them if they would like a gender-fluid one (yes, there is a flag for everything). Below is an example you can use as a model.
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