BLOG: I am the mom who you will see on the soccer field soon.
I never played sports as a kid outside of a middle school bowling league. I did not have the parents who encouraged those things; academia was to be my main focus growing up. Now, years later, I am a single parent of four kids. Over time, I have discovered my “mom” identity through experiences, interactions, and situations. Meaning, before I had kids; what I perceived motherhood to be was totally different from how it actually turned out.
I was going to breastfeed for years and make my own baby food when my first daughter was born. She was born with significant health issues and needed emergency surgery to save her life at a month old. I was reading up on if I should vaccinate my newborn when she was admitted to the NICU. Needless to say, my plans changed. I became a mom who needed specialists and antibiotics and regular doctor’s appointments. Life has a way of forcing us to be who we were scared to be most of the time.
My daughter with the health challenges at birth has grown into a healthy, active, hysterical beauty who tends to be athletically inclined. Over the years, and as her health improved, the stress of having a child with special needs slowly faded away. My fear that these issues would resurface got better each passing birthday. My daughter does not understand how happy it makes me that she is active and healthy and able to participate in sports. She is going to play flag football next school year through her high school.
My oldest daughter got her interest in sports from her other siblings. Her older brother skateboards and loves football and basketball. She prefers volleyball to football, but they talk teams and sports and its common ground as they both teeter on adulthood. My younger daughter loves dancing. And the baby of our family, my youngest son, is interested in playing soccer next year like his big sister’s boyfriend. Our family is close, and my kids truly love each other. I am a lucky mom.
My point in mapping out my kids to you is because there is legislature out in our country right now that would make playing sports impossible for one of my four children. Today, I know exactly the type of mom I am. I am the mom who wants all of her children to have the same opportunities. I am the mom who will fight for her kids in all circumstances. And I am the mom who is scared for her kids in a world filled with so much hatred when I want them to have love in their lives every day.
I have written professionally about my experiences with my transgender son in the hope that other parents can find support and community. There are very few resources for these kids. I recently read the thoughtful essay by Megan Rapinoe about the movement to block transgender kids from participating in sports. She felt the need to comment on the subject based on her experiences as a member of the LGTBQ community and an athlete and as a woman.
My transgender son has switched schools because of identifying as a transgender individual. He has lost friends over being simply who he truly is as a person. New appointments with doctors or dentists and sometimes even mental health clinicians are days my anxiety is heightened. So many people are not trained properly to serve the transgender community. I see so many opportunities to educate people and bring about compassion and understanding. I want to believe people just don’t understand as opposed to believing everyone hates people different from themselves. I have had some terrible experiences that I have mostly shielded from my son, want to believe people just do not understand.
My transgender son wants to play soccer next year. He asked me to get a soccer ball and net just this morning. He wants to practice all summer, so he is good enough to make the team. His big sister’s boyfriend plays competitive soccer, and he is going to give him some pointers. I cannot give my kids everything they want, but it is my job as a mom to get them what they need. After a year of virtual school, the pandemic, and so much isolation; the idea of becoming a literal soccer mom sounds so great.
The idea that my child would not be allowed to play sports on a team is discriminatory, painful, and damaging.
I believe every child should be encouraged to try a sport at some point as it is shown to promote socialization, communication, and confidence in children. And like Megan Rapinoe pointed out; transgender kids are already playing sports with your children. My father helped get HRT for a Marine in basic training over 40 years ago; transgender individuals are a part of our world and your life and have been. There is new awareness that I am thankful of, but this is by no means “new”.
I have always said that if I cannot do for all four kids, I cannot do for just one. Fairness is a big thing in larger families, and if one kid is going to be doing sports, I will be open to them all participating in something active that makes them happy. I will never tell my transgender child that he cannot do something because of who he is. In fact, that idea breaks my heart. He has shown me strength, bravery, and so much love from simply being true to himself.
I am the mom who loves her kids to the moon and back.
I am the mom who wants more compassion and love for her kid’s generation.
I am the mom who will never quit standing up for her kid’s rights.
I am the mom who you will see on the soccer field soon.
-Sylvie Lauren Trevena, MBA