It’s Mother’s Day in the United States, and trans activist Rachel McKinnon, PhD in philosophy and lecturer at Charleston college, has a YouTube message for all you cisnormative, unsupportive moms out there: Get with the trans-activist program, or risk losing your kids to the “glitter-queer” family of adult trans waiting with open arms.
McKinnon, who is childless, spends just under 3 minutes lecturing moms on how to parent kids who might believe they’re trans, then speaks directly to the children (as the YouTube written description puts it, “offer support for trans kids whose parents may not be supportive”):
I want you to know that’s it’s ok to walk away from unsupportive or disrespectful or even abusive parents. And I want to give you hope that you can find what we call your glitter family. Your queer family. We are out there.
You sure are: on Reddit, YouTube, Tumblr, and other online fora, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, tweens and teens will find plenty of trans adults like McKinnon, eager to take them under their wing.
And the relationships we make in our glitter families are just as real, just as meaningful as our blood families.
It’s Mother’s Day, but you trans-identified youngsters shouldn’t be thinking about breakfast in bed or a nice card for mom. No, you need to know it’s perfectly ok to abandon your mother, if she’s not onboard with your sudden mission to change sex. Not to worry: adult trans activist “glitter” families are “just as real, just as meaningful” as the people who have known and loved you all your life.
At 4:18, McKinnon, the childless parenting expert, generously offers to be a safe harbor:
Also, you can reach out to me. You can email me. You can call me. We can Skype. I’m happy to talk if you need someone to talk to.
UPDATE 5/15/17: In the YouTube comments last night, McKinnon confirmed that parental refusal to use pronouns or a new name was tantamount to abuse and a good reason to “walk away” to the queer “glitter family.” The comments were altered this morning, but are archived here.
But enough heartfelt cooing from the surrogate trans parent. As important as this message is, trans kids, the bulk of this video isn’t really about you. Nor is Mother’s Day about you, you cissexist mom. Once the online support-group advertisement is out of the way in the first 5 minutes, the real meat of the infomercial is this: Daddy, once he “transitions,” has just as much right to be celebrated as a mom as you do:
Is it ok for trans women to be a mommy? Is it ok for trans women to take on the mantle of motherhood? I talk to a lot of trans women who had children before they transitioned. There’s this idea that going from being dad…to being mom…is somehow taking away from their wife or partner or their children’s mother. It’s somehow “usurping” [air quotes] something that belongs to the original mother. And I wanna suggest that this thought that “mother” and therefore “Mother’s Day” belongs to the cis mother in the partnership, is BOTH cissexist and heteronormative.
McKinnon goes on for several minutes, attempting to justify the idea that someone who fathered the children should get to be called “Mom” because, after all, there are lesbian families with two moms—so what’s the prob? A cis mom and a trans mom are exactly the same as two lesbian women! McKinnon goes further: if the “original father” who is ostensibly now a woman doesn’t get to be called “mom” too, this “erases lesbian mothers.”
For good measure, McKinnon adds adoptive parents into this “argument” too, drawing a false equivalence between adoptive mothers and men who fathered children and now want to be called “mom” because mothering isn’t just about biology.
And it’s cissexist to say a trans woman can’t be a mother…because it seems to suggest she’s not really a woman. The language we usually use for a woman parent is “mother.” So to deny that to trans women is to suggest that cis women own motherhood. And that’s a problem.
Once McKinnon finishes schooling viewers in the proper language to be used, we get a lesson in all the ways families can celebrate Mother’s Day with their newfound enlightened thinking:
You could both celebrate on Sunday, or –and this is what a friend of mine does – one of the mothers is celebrated on the Saturday, and the other mother on the Sunday, and every year they swap who gets Sunday. …so that way, both moms get equal treatment …they both get to feel special.
We wouldn’t want the former dad to feel diminished or snubbed on that special day, now would we?
Another issue is that trans women sometimes don’t feel comfortable being called “mommy” or “mom.” …What are some alternatives? One common way is for the trans mom to be referred to as “Maddy” or “Mada” …
Then there’s Didi and Dommy, but as McKinnon helpfully points out,
…although for the BDSM people, that last one might have a completely different meaning.
Then you can always
…encourage the children to produce their own affectionate nickname for the trans mother. I know trans women early in the transition are uncomfortable being called “mommy” but that may change over time. So be open to your preferences shifting. Also it’s important that it’s about your preferences and people respect your preferences.
I know we have a tendency to worry about the children but I think if we communicate to the children that this is important to you and that it makes you feel bad if they call you daddy, if you would prefer mommy, that they will come around to it, they will respect it.
Don’t worry about “people” like your kids (or the “original” mom)—they’ll come around. Because it’s all about what you, you, you (me, me, me!) —YOU, the trans woman want and feel.
So, yay! Happy Mother’s Day!
If you, as a trans woman, want to take on the mantle of mother, awesome! I think you have permission to do that.
On Twitter, McKinnon is miffed that (so far) the video has gotten a thumbs down: WTF is wrong with them?
According to McKinnon, only a transphobe would find anything peculiar about an adult trans activist inviting “trans kids” (again, McKinnon’s term, generally understood to mean transgender people under the age of 18) for direct contact via Skype.
This morning, McKinnon added a new comment to the YouTube video, claiming that the repeated use of “trans kids” in the video/video title is only in reference to “teens and adults” (even if true, teens under 18 are still minors).
Like the “teen or adult” in the video at timestamp 3:16, presumably?
If–despite all evidence to the contrary–McKinnon really wasn’t targeting the “call me, Skype me, email me” invitation at minors, one simple sentence in the video itself would have sufficed to make that clear, like: “Now, of course I would never interfere in a relationship between parents and their minor children, but if you are a legal adult in need of support, contact me!” McKinnon did add a disclaimer to the description text below the video days after the YouTube was originally posted; no such caveat existed until we blogged about it.
Better late than never?