Open Letters to KRXQ Sacramento

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Parents of Gender Non-Conforming Children Speak Out For Tolerance

From Sarah Hoffman: West Coast Mom of a Non-Conforming Kid

I am the mother of a seven-year-old boy who wears a dress—exactly the sort of boy demonized by the Rob, Arnie & Dawn radio show aired June 2nd on KRXQ 98.5FM in Sacramento.

While discussing a recent story about a transgender child in Omaha, Nebraska, hosts Rob Williams and Arnie States went on a 30-minute tirade verbally attacking transgender children—explicitly promoting child abuse and making cruel, dehumanizing comments toward children like my son, Sam.

Williams said boys like Sam are freaks, abnormal, and mentally ill. States said he would hit his own son if he were like mine. He called boys like Sam dumbasses, saying he looks forward to society beating boys like my son down. The hosts equated the sort of different gender expression Sam has to having sex with animals and kleptomania. Yet being transgender, or simply gender-noncomforming like Sam, is not criminal behavior. It is a normal—if uncommon—aspect of being a human being.

The hosts believe that if parents like me simply said “no,” when our boys asked for dresses and Barbie dolls and sparkly nail polish, that our pink boys wouldn’t want those things anymore. Clearly they have never lived with a boy like Sam—a boy who persistently, insistently, and unrelentingly begs for the trappings of girlhood from his preschool years on.

And Sam is not alone. I correspond daily online with over two hundred families across the country, parents of boys like Sam. We have all said no, over and over, with no success. Our sons have been harassed and bullied by kids at school, and shamed by adults like these radio hosts. And still, they want to look and act like girls. Why? We may never know. But it is not, as co-host Dawn Rossi said, to get attention. What boy would act out by acting like a girl? To get berated, beaten, or even killed? Being feminine is not a choice—it’s an unchangeable aspect of their identity that they withstand because they have no choice but to be who they are.

There are plenty of parents who have said “no” so completely that they have put their children in aversion therapy, an often-barbaric attempt to reprogram their brains to prefer masculine games and playmates and clothes. And, when that has failed, they have put their sons out of their homes. But research shows that kids whose families reject them for their gender expression experience far higher rates of depression, illegal drug use, unsafe sexual practices, and suicide attempts than children whose families accept them as they are. As a parent, I have a choice: accept my son, pink sparkles and all, or let him fall to prostitution and suicide. If these radio hosts had a son like mine, which choice would they make?

Last year, 15-year-old Lawrence King of Oxnard was killed by 14-year-old classmate because King came to school in lipstick and nail polish. Such stories, of boys who are different being killed for their differences, are disturbingly common—fueled by the sort of hatred and bigotry espoused on the Rob, Arnie & Dawn show. And there is brutality, too, in self-hatred: last month, two unrelated eleven-year-old boys hanged themselves because of anti-gay bullying in their schools.

So, here’s the rock, and there’s the hard place: on the one hand, protecting my son from suicide; on the other, from murder. This is not what I expected when I signed up for parenthood.

I cannot change my son and his quirky gender expression. But I will work to change the minds of the bigots who would have him live in shame and fear. Until we change the way adults talk about children who are different—boys who are feminine, whether gay, straight, or transgender—violence against them will continue.

Thank you to co-host Rossi for standing up to Williams and States, and apologizing for her colleagues’ defamatory remarks. But that was not nearly enough. On behalf of all those many parents like me, I demand a public apology from States, Williams, and KRXQ for promoting hatred against our sons. Allowing such vitriol to air condones violence against my child. And that’s something I will not stand for.

Sarah Hoffman


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Filed under: Letters from Parents of Non-Conforming Children,

3 Responses

  1. Annie says:

    I would just like to say thank you to all of you that have transgender children and are standing beside them in this journey.

    I am the spouse of a transsexual woman. She also, as a child, had the same journey and was crushed into silence. She sadly spent the first 3 decades of her life trying to pretend that she could deny how she was born by coping and shutting down all emotion.

    Eventually, it became too much for her to bear. Depression was slowly crushing her. Life had no joy. When she finally told me the source of all her emotional pain, I was relieved, because I knew that by accepting and transitioning from her male body into the right one, she could possibly find happiness.

    It has been an incredible journey so far. Over the past years I have watched the sun come out for her. She walks around singing, finding joy in things. She now lives full time as a woman, and yes, we run into some human beings with no kindness at all. But, we don’t care. I am incredibly proud of her bravery to face the world and the intolerance.

    I wish I could wave a magic wand and make her body exactly as she wants it, without the ravages of years of testosterone. Even to at least suppress the development of the wrong hormones until the child reaches adulthood would make such an incredible difference in their lives and save them so much physical pain.

    For you to fight for your children and help them through this is amazing. Please realize that there are others out here that respect you so much it moves us to tears. Hang tough, moms and dads. The world will come to accept this just as they did to accept the fact that the color of our skin does not determine our worth as humans.

    With much love,

    Annie

  2. […] up against KRXQ, the California radio station that spewed hatred toward transgender children (read my response here). To KRXQ, we said: you can’t disparage our children, call them freaks, advocate violence against […]

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