Author Carolyn Hays on “A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter”

A Girlhood Cover

Author Carolyn Hays on

Author Carolyn Hays on “A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter”

Everything within the lives of the Hays household modified when a employee from the Department of Children and Families knocked on their door on an in any other case atypical day. There to examine a criticism about how Carolyn Hays and her husband had been elevating their transgender daughter, the knock set off the household’s journey out of the Bible Belt.

Table of Cotents

A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter is a gripping and intimate story by Carolyn Hays written to her daughter. The ebook tells the household’s story of their help for his or her transgender daughter and gives perception from Carolyn’s perspective as a mom. 

We sat down with writer Carolyn Hays to discuss A Girlhood, her household’s journey, and extra. 

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A Girlhood is a really private story about your loved ones, particularly your transgender daughter, and your neighborhood. What impressed you to write this story down and put it on the market for the world to learn?

I’m a author, so I’ve printed many different books and I used to be working on these books whereas I used to be residing this story. I knew that what I used to be residing was much more stunning and terrifying and gripping than the fiction that I used to be really writing on the time. 

But I additionally knew that I couldn’t write it, for lots of causes, whereas it was taking place. And so, time handed, my daughter bought sufficiently old to discuss in regards to the ebook and provides her okay to publishing it, and I processed much more of it. I felt extra centered. And the world for trans individuals on this nation was contracting. We’d had this actually optimistic section, after which America’s coronary heart simply contracted actually arduous towards trans individuals on a legislative degree and in plenty of alternative ways. So it felt extra pressing to inform the story.

What was the ultimate push that satisfied you to inform this story? Was it one thing on a private degree, issues taking place on the earth, or a mix of the 2?

I believe determining that it was written to her. Because earlier than that, I actually wasn’t positive of viewers and while you’re unsure of viewers, it’s actually arduous to write a ebook. So I might make these false begins. I wouldn’t know whether or not the particular person studying this ebook could be a trans particular person in maturity or whether or not it was a grandmother who knew nothing in regards to the trans expertise however had a grandchild who was transitioning. It was unimaginable to write for all of my imagined audiences. So once I realized, “no, no, no: it is a ebook written from me to her,” it clarified the whole lot after which I might lastly sit down and write it. 

The story’s extremely highly effective, particularly as a result of it’s written as a letter to your daughter. What was it like, as her mom, scripting this story down as a letter to your daughter? 

Lots of it she doesn’t have significantly sturdy reminiscences about, whereas my husband and I and her older brothers and sisters actually keep in mind it very clearly. And it’s so unusual as a result of the most important factor to occur to our household was about her, and but we swirled round her. It was an orbit, we had been in orbit round her, nevertheless it didn’t have an effect on her very a lot at the moment. It modified the whole lot in our lives. We fully modified our lives from then on. It modified how we considered the world and our place in it. 

Obviously it was emotional and there’s sure sections that I cried whereas writing it. But additionally, it actually felt good to lastly have a kind to match the whole lot in, as a result of I’ve been accumulating all these private tales, but additionally all these tales all through historical past and all my emotions about faith and religion and the whole lot from botany to the trans man who perfected the C-section. All this stuff that I’d realized, I lastly had a spot to put them. I had been holding so much in for a very long time, and this was a aid. 

I like the outline of the whole lot taking place swirling or orbiting round your daughter, despite the fact that plenty of these large modifications had been about her. What was it like attempting to have these modifications occur whereas additionally, as a mom, attempting to defend her from issues that had been taking place?

I believe that there’s completely different intervals. When any person knocked on our door to tell us that we had been underneath investigation, solely as a result of we had been supporting our trans daughter, I used to be singularly centered. We had to make it clear that we had been good mother and father and loving mother and father in order that it wouldn’t go into the courtroom system and probably we might have misplaced custody. So we had been solely centered on that and all of us rallying round to defend her and us as a household. 

Then as soon as that concern was put to relaxation, then I used to be centered on getting us out of the South. How can we land? Where can we land? Look on the nation: what’s place to increase this youngster, and actually take into consideration our different youngsters. I monitor how the opposite youngsters had been dealing with this all through, as a result of it actually modified their lives profoundly. 

When the governor of Texas, for instance, this spring tried to make what occurred to us the legislation, that any household that’s supporting their transgender youngster ought to be investigated: when he made {that a} legislation, I don’t suppose he understood that what he’s actually doing is ripping households aside, and in addition ripping communities aside. We had been terrified and heartbroken, however all the individuals in our circle, in our varied circles – youth soccer to the youngsters’ faculty buddies to individuals within the religion neighborhood, the church we attended, to individuals on our road – it actually gutted lots of people. It was to watch. And not understanding who made that decision additionally made it very arduous to hear as a result of we couldn’t go to that particular person and clarify what it’s to be trans, we’re following finest practices, we’ve carried out analysis. We couldn’t do any training and even simply present compassion and love for that particular person, which felt so necessary to me, and I couldn’t have that.

You talked about that since you don’t know who made the decision, you possibly can’t educate them and present them love and compassion. That’s fascinating that that’s your response to this one that made the decision. 

I believe there’s an individual who made that decision, logically it is smart to me, that they had been somebody who knew any person or who was carrying one thing. It had to be private. 

Anger could be a pure response, and definitely my husband was indignant, and nobody would blame him for that. But I simply felt like as a mom, I wasn’t allowed to be indignant. It wasn’t an emotion that may be useful on this state of affairs. I simply wasn’t granted entry to it. 

It’s not that I haven’t been indignant since, I definitely have been indignant since at completely different occasions. It’s unusual, I’m not probably the most affected person particular person on the earth in my day-to-day life. But when it comes to this, one thing comes over me once I’m speaking to somebody who’s actually opposed or has very destructive, even hostile emotions in direction of trans individuals. I can get on this mode that, so long as they’ve a tiny little bit of openness, I not less than need to strive to attain them. Sometimes it’s apparent that there’s nothing you are able to do, however anger has not been my go to, which surprises me. 

One of the issues that comes throughout within the ebook is religion and faith and the way that intersects with, and typically contradicts, different beliefs, like help of trans individuals. This was particularly evident in the truth that your daughter was banned from all Catholic excessive colleges within the diocese. How have you ever grappled along with your religion and place within the church alongside these strains, particularly given the church’s normal stance on trans individuals? 

It’s been an unbelievable journey by way of taking a look at what God created within the unbelievable structure of the human mind. What occurs as we kind in utero, how gender will get created on a genetic degree, on a neurological degree, on an endocrine degree. All of that, it’s stunning, beautiful, difficult, and never two bins, one marked M and one marked F. It’s a lot grander than that. And so for me, all of that has been about trying on the complexity of the attractive artistry of what God has created in us. It’s been a journey for me, by way of religion, that’s been extremely grounding and really a lot jives with what I used to be taught as a Catholic. 

We’ve gotten unbelievable help from nuns and our household priest, however what’s actually unusual is once I bump up towards spiritual doctrine, which is simply the alternative of what we might anticipate. 

I actually checked out that Vatican doc on gender and located as many entry factors of affection and acceptance as I presumably might to strive to meet them, after which hit a brick wall with conversations with the superintendent of the diocese of faculties the place I now dwell who didn’t meet us midway. 

But additionally, I’ve tried to hold that door open as a lot as attainable with him, despite the fact that he banned our daughter from all of the Catholic colleges within the district. I saved that door open as a result of I do know that he has trans youngsters in these colleges. They have trans adults who attended these colleges who’ve now transitioned. And I do know that while you actually take a look at religion, there’s unbelievable acceptance and love. But I believe that they’re going to want me at some point, or households like ours to assist them in a disaster, and I’m right here for that help nonetheless. I at all times need to hold these doorways open. 

As you talked about earlier, this nation went via an enormous interval of acceptance in direction of trans people, however extra not too long ago America’s coronary heart has been contracting. What was it like to inform your story towards this backdrop when there’s a lot taking place by way of laws, particularly for trans adolescents? 

It’s type of terrifying, to be trustworthy. People have gotten actually irrational. I take into consideration the bomb threats against Boston Children’s Hospital final week. People have type of related them with this misinformation marketing campaign about how trans youngsters get therapy and care at Boston Children’s. But I take into consideration the individuals who really despatched a bomb risk to a hospital the place kids are preventing for his or her lives. Children with leukemia, whose bone marrow transplant surgical procedures had been stopped that day. Procedures for kids who’re preventing for his or her lives stopped that day due to these individuals who had simply develop into so irrational about trans youngsters, having been fed misinformation. And I take into consideration these individuals, that they might even be those of their neighborhood who, if a child was sick with most cancers of their neighborhood, they might make the lasagnas and go over there and take a look at to increase cash for that household to pay their medical payments. There’s a lot concern mongering focusing on them that they did this horrific factor. 

When I take into consideration how irrational individuals will be when it comes to gender and when it comes to trans individuals of their lives, it’s scary to put a ebook out on the earth proper now about it. But it’s additionally extra pressing than ever. Because individuals have to keep in mind that they’re actual households, actual human beings, actual youngsters, not concepts, not issues which might be made up.