Hope has been on my mind a lot over the last week as I think about what it must feel like to be my 16 year old. Despite everything that has happened over the last few years at school, they have practiced forgiveness and patience and have continued to hold out hope that people will do what they promise and what is right. I have always been patient and I realize that I tend to be a hopeful person, too. I think I’ve always been that way and maybe that has rubbed off or maybe we were both just born that way. I don’t really know how that works. What I do know is that we are both people who can be patient and who look for hope. The way I see it, these are qualities that weigh heavily in our favor.
People are very curious about my child, but they don’t always seem interested in the ways we need them to be. Right now they’re more interested in my child’s gender identity. It’s the question I am most often asked. Even when I am in the middle of a conversation about what is most important in school. Deafness. I get it. Not everyone has a transgender person in the family and it must seem like the biggest deal in the world to a lot of people. I guess it is a big deal, but not to me. Not right now. My child is almost 17 years old. I’ve known that they didn’t fit quite right into the gender role that was assigned at birth since they were as young as six years old and I found them in one of my formal dresses adoring themself in a full length mirror in my bathroom. I have a whole photo shoot of that moment. I need to find those images on my computer. They felt beautiful and they still are beautiful. The labels are irrelevant to me. They are the same exact person they have always been. I’m not here to tell them who to be and I never would. People praise me for this attitude and tell me how lucky they are to have me as a mother. I appreciate that and I know that is true because I know that not everyone accepts their children for who they are. I just feel like their mother. I feel so lucky to have this child.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that there are people who are curious who support them and accept them, but what I truly wish is that people would take an interest in the fact that they are Deaf and they are being discriminated against. It’s a big deal. It makes them really expensive to educate because they need an educational interpreter at school. They are entitled to it under the law, but we have to fight for it ourselves. The discrimination against my child as a Deaf person permeates every single crevice of our lives. We have been traumatized. It hurts every person in our family. It’s hard when hope falls out from under you and you feel hopeless. It wipes you out and makes you feel depressed. That’s just what hopelessness does. That’s why hope is so important to me.
They wrote something the other day about what it feels like to be discriminated against. I read it. Yesterday they asked me if I know what it feels like. I don’t. But I know what it feels like to be the mother of someone who has been discriminated against. It is hurting me deeply. I can only imagine what it feels like to be them. Now at a time when they are most vulnerable, they have been betrayed again by the same people who have been hurting them all along. We just hoped they would fix the problem. It stands to reason since that’s their job. So far hope and patience haven’t worked out in this situation at all. Not for either of us. My child has been an educational refugee all year because they don’t have an educational interpreter. It is a struggle to find any benefit for them at all in our schools. And I know that we are certainly not alone. The people who have hurt my child were supposed to teach them. It turns out the child is doing the teaching. They speak up for themself. My child doesn’t hesitate to speak publicly about how they have been mistreated because they are deaf. They want to call the police. My child cannot understand how discrimination, especially against a child, isn’t a criminal offense. Why doesn’t the law work that way? My child filed their own complaint about how they have been discriminated against by the school system because it’s just plain wrong. The complaint was ignored because they are a child.
I was texting with my child the other day and they said that they are glad that it was happening to them instead of someone else. I actually know that’s not exactly true. I’m certain that there are other Deaf kids who are suffering in the same way, but I didn’t say that to them. They feel like the only one right now. Instead I asked them why they were glad it was them. They said that it has to happen to someone for things to change and that they know that not everyone can handle it. They said they knows they can because they have become so used to it. It felt like an arrow was shot straight into my heart. I am raising a leader and only a few of us can see that. My child knows it though. That’s the only thing that really matters.
I am amazed at their resiliency and so thankful for them. I wish to god they didn’t have to be this strong. I thank god that they are. They hugged me and thanked me yesterday for always being their rock. I am thankful that I am strong and that they know that, too. But it is the kids who are going to have to lead us out of this mess because the adults are just failing. We live in an adult world where we have to navigate through lawyers. I am in awe of my child’s simplistic power.
And there it is again. There is always more hope when I look for it. I love that about hope.