Journey to Acceptance
In a previous article I wrote for Pitt, I talked about some of the difficulties of living with a partner and two children who have bought into the current gender narrative that is sweeping the world, while I stand firmly in the knowing that only men have penises and only women can be pregnant. I ended that piece with this: Staying together and connected in loving and supportive relationships is perhaps the greatest "F*** you" to the current system trying to tear us apart.
How to stay together as a loving, thriving family is the topic of this piece. These are some of the ways I am working to shift my perspective and reconnect with the people who matter most to me. I've been working on shifting in this way for months when I heard a podcast with StoicMom. StoicMom "[uses her] daughter's trans ID as inspiration to become a better human". The Stoic approach appealed to me tremendously, so I read some of her articles and listened to a few of her podcasts and am now receiving coaching with her. I hope some of my experience may be helpful to you if you’re struggling in a relationship(s) due to a difference in perspective about gender.
At first I thought that, if I could just get my wife, and by extension my children, to see the craziness of engaging in the magical thinking that men can menstruate and women can have beards, they would come around to my way of thinking and we would all live happily ever after. That hasn't gone well.
I've known for a long time that trying to change anyone or anything else is futile. I certainly don't want anyone else to try to change me. So why would I think that I could, or should, try to change anyone else? The only thing in the world I have the slightest bit of control over is my own mind, my thoughts, the way I respond and relate to the world around me, regardless of what anyone says or thinks or does. Knowing the truth of that and practicing it are two very different things, and the universe has handed me the ideal situation to put my money where my mouth is.
It would be so easy to see my family's differing perspectives as wrong or bad. Setting up a dialectic of "They're wrong and I'm right' won't help us, though. There's a saying, "would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?" In this case I would rather be happy.
Trying to logically and rationally explain basic, factual human biology to people captured in the gender cult is just tilting at windmills. A waste of precious time and energy. Instead, I need to switch my focus to connecting with my wife in the places we agree. My wife is someone who knows me probably better than I know myself. She knows and accepts and sometimes even appreciates my many weird quirks and odd habits. We have more than a decade of shared history and two children who we love deeply and both of us want what's best for them. We just go about it differently.
I also need to spend time relating with my children in all the myriad areas that aren't about gender. The gender divide seems so black and white these days. And while most of us may (grudgingly) agree that there are many shades of gray between the black and white, the truth is that we are polychromatic beings with a huge palette of colors to paint with and talk about and relate to. I can explore an abundance of ways to relate to my children in their multitude of expressions and passions and creativity.
My relationship with myself is also important. It’s so easy to get gender tunnel vision, where all I read about and listen to are gender related. Some of the articles and podcasts can feel like lifeboats in a stormy ocean of gender insanity. But there’s so much more to life, to ME, than this one subject. I, too, am a polychromatic human being with many interests and passions. I can't lose those other sides of myself to the gender narrative. I love to hike and garden and cook, all activities that have the added bonus of being non-gender related activities I can do with my family.
Of course, I can't avoid the gender topic forever. It will come up and does so with increasing frequency as my children get older and spend more time out in the small, woke community we live in. I hear about more and more tweens and young teens who are socially transitioning, and the occasional young person who is going further into medical transition. My children hear about them, too, and talk about them and have questions. My own son is tentatively exploring some of these ideas.
It would be easy to dismiss their questions and say "Only boys and men have penises and only women can get pregnant or have periods, end of discussion." But ending the discussion so dismissively would make me unsafe for them to talk to in the future. Shutting down conversation is never an effective way to stay connected with those we love. As the saying goes, I need to get curious, not furious.
I need to set my own discomfort and my own judgments aside and ask my own questions to find out more about what they are hearing and thinking. And when I want to react with "That's crazy and just plain wrong!" a simple "Interesting, I see it differently" is probably a more open-ended and inviting approach. Tell me more about how that works." Or "I don't understand that, can you explain it to me?"
At the same time, I need to figure out how to stay true to my own perspectives and beliefs. I can’t and won’t lie about how I feel about the gender narrative and the damaging effects it is having on so many children and families. I, like so many of you reading this PITT Substack, have *very* strong opinions and beliefs about the horrors the gender narrative is inflicting on our children. It’s a balancing act that I’m just starting to learn.
If I've given you the impression that this has been smooth sailing, or I've got anything figured out, I apologize for leading you astray. I have very little figured out and I struggle to practice what I've talked about here. One thing I can say for sure is that having a grounded, unbiased, disinterested third party to talk to has been extremely helpful. Certainly my friends who agree with me are wonderfully supportive. They listen and sometimes commiserate. And while it feels good in the moment to be heard and validated, that doesn't necessarily help me figure out how to effectively communicate about these thorny topics and have a better relationship with my family.
If you’re struggling in a relationship with a partner, child, family member or any other important person in your life, getting outside help can be tremendously beneficial. It doesn’t need to be a psychiatrist or therapist. It could be a neutral friend, a trusted community elder, someone in your faith circle, anyone with whom you connect and can trust and can be unattached to your situation. But an objective, grounded person who can listen and reflect without an agenda is invaluable in staying centered and calm.
I'm grateful to have found someone to help me explore the many dark corners, rabbit holes and dead ends of my thought processes as I navigate the often challenging and always rewarding family dynamics that I find myself in.