"I don't know why I am a boy, I just know it."
Truer words about gender have never been spoken. Qbdoo, nicknamed Q, may only be 8 years old, but he has already grasped a fundamental truth that so many adults seem confused by: We all experience our gender the same way — as a quality about us that feels natural.
Empire State Pride Agenda chose the transgender child and his mother Francisca as the faces for its Change.org petition to "protect LGBT youth from conversion efforts and secure basic civil rights for transgender New Yorkers." Both Q and his mother wrote letters about Q's gender identity as part of the campaign to highlight Q's journey.
What Q and his mother prove is that children can be every bit as cognizant of their gender as adults. As Q writes in his letter, and as new research has proven, trans kids know who they are; they are not confused. What is frustrating, however, and unfortunate, is that they are placed in the position of having to educate the world, including adults, about gender identity and expression.
Trans kids are kids. Period. Q is like any other kid. As he writes in his letter, he likes to read and eat "crunchy veshtebols and fruits" and play with his friends. What is not a typical experience for a child his age is having to remind other people about his gender. This is why Q feels "frushtraded," because "people forget that [he is] a boy." And who wouldn't feel frustrated at having to constantly explain themselves to people? This is the burden of the transgender person (not to mention any minority): Someone else's ignorance becomes their responsibility.
As his mother explains, Q's intersectional identity of being biracial (half Colombian and half African-American) and from an immigrant family makes his subjectivity that much more precarious in the real world filled with discrimination. Francisca, a Latina immigrant, expresses her concern about this in her letter: "I think about racism and oppression and how they affect my family and my community almost every minute of my life. To look at my little boy and imagine his gender identity adding another layer of oppression to my child's life is torture."
Francisca's letter is a testament to the power of a parent's love for their child, no matter the circumstances. Knowing full well the myriad forms of discrimination faced by trans people, and especially trans youth, she conveys her heartbreak at what Q will experience throughout his life. But she knows that there is no other way for Q to live. "What is more powerful and liberating than being fully yourself?" she explains.
I know that in the end, the most dangerous thing I could do would be to try and erase his identity by trying to make Q be something he is not. When challenges come, we will deal with them knowing that we are as strong and safe as we could be just by being real and honest to ourselves. My child is an amazing creature. At eight years old, he knows people need time to understand that we are all different; he respects people's pace and trusts their processes. We as a society should value much more the perspective and experiences of Q and others like him; a perspective that is so much more rounded and complete than the so-called "norm."
She concludes, "I don't want to change him. I'm ready to change the world."