Regular readers will likely recall the post written a few months back by 25-year-old Charlie Rae entitled “What the hell are you talking about? No. You’re a girl.” Charlie fervently wanted to be a boy growing up, but her mom would have none of it.
Charlie’s mom has written in today with a comment in response to that post, which, with her permission, I am reproducing here. Charlie (commenting under the screen name artistarmy) and her mom are ready to host a discussion in the comments section of this post, so please join in.
Before you do, though, please first read Charlie’s original post, then her mom’s response below:
Growing up is uncomfortable
by Charlie’s mom
Charlie – I loved reading your history and loved getting to know you even better – its a lifetime effort to develop as a full person and then be open and honest so others can continually get to know you and love you.
I always felt – even before your birth – that first I was a “person” and needed to fully develop as a “person” and not a gender. I grew up seeing signs that said “No women allowed” and I thank my father for bringing me anyway, even when it meant when we got inside he would have to fight to keep me there (and he did). I joined the gyms before women were welcomed, played pool, golfed and loved to talk and listen to business conversations – all labeled “things men do” and I proceeded to live my life to be ALL of me rather than “just the girl me” (that was imposed upon me by society).
When I was growing up I did not think I was a boy. I thought “boys have it better” and I wanted that. Boys had more freedoms, more opportunities, they were taken seriously far more often than girls, they had more support, success and space than girls. I wanted all of those things. I attribute my ability to be focused on the things I wanted rather than my gender to my father – who – against everyone’s insults – raised me to be a FULL PERSON regardless of the fact that I was “a girl” and even though society had a “box” for me he never put me in it.
My father never referenced my gender – ever. He just supported me in whatever I wanted in life. He kept pushing back society-type boundaries that limited and oppressed me (and all women) and never talked to me about it at all….he never said society was wrong, he did not preach, he did not lecture me. He cleared my path sometimes daily but always quietly and when he was loud (even physically fighting) it was never towards me–it was towards what was limiting and oppressing me. So Grampa needs a nod too….and its important to know my mother never agreed and was vocal against him about HOW he raised me – he ignored her completely. THANKS DAD.
When I started my own business at the tender age of 22, people talked against it and my desires but he did not. He talked business to me all the time and pointed to other “great business people” to follow or listen to. He would give me names of people to contact and that would support me. I ran that business for 3o years and used it to support you and your sister the whole time you grew up. I bought a home alone – not a “normal” thing that women did . I never thought twice about it.
As you know the schools and the pediatrician all worked against me and how I raised you and your sister. I always knew if I were a man and you two were boys, they would be erecting a statue for me. The school system and the doctors wanted me to behave a certain way and wanted you and your sister to be raised to behave a certain way too, and as you know I rejected what they wanted for us.
When the pediatrician suggested “craziness” I changed your doctors to a doctor who supported “full well rounded holistic health” instead of “let’s write a prescription for what ails you” as that pediatrician had. I was not a “popular parent” as you well know…and yes I often said “fuck them” and I have no regrets. My only obligation was to you and your sister and you know that cost me dearly – but I still have no regrets.
I love you Charlie and I believe that childhood brings certain things WE ALL GO THROUGH – and they all pass – regardless of what we do to stop the process or make ourselves comfortable in the midst of the growing up process. The process will come and go through our lives. GROWING UP IS UNCOMFORTABLE – and no pill or surgery, clothing or haircut changes that.
For children who believe otherwise, they are mistaken and to parents WHO GIVE INTO THEIR CHILDREN’S BELIEFS THAT there is something to DO that makes growing up less uncomfortable, I am sorry that you have the ADDED discomfort of that.
First we are PEOPLE then we are a gender. Can anyone honestly say they have mastered the PEOPLE part of that equation? I don’t think so BUT to anyone who believes they HAVE mastered the PEOPLE part then go ahead and mess with the gender part. I think that challenge alone will put this entire subject matter to rest.
PARENTS – Here is your job description: raise your child to be healthy, whole and educated to adulthood. P.S. our kids don’t always like it and don’t THANK US along the way.
That is really our only job during the total discomfort of growing up, regardless of our chronological age.
Knowing that “this too shall pass” is what gets us through life – regardless if we are 5, 15, 22, or 56.
I am proud of you Charlie – so proud!