Last February, beautiful 16 year-old trans girl Brianna Ghey was brutally murdered in broad daylight in her local park in England, and the heart of every parent of a trans kid stopped. In that moment, as a parent, you think, ‘How do I keep my kid safe and alive? Do I keep them at home? Do I tell them to hide themselves? Or do I go into the world and try to make it safer for them?’
And that’s how the Mammies for Trans Rights began. It started out as three mammies wanting to do something to support their own kids, and now there are groups of Mammies marching in almost every Pride event on the island of Ireland, often with two or three groups marching in different towns at the same time. Mams, dads, grans, grandparents, aunts, cousins, friends, neighbours, colleagues – everyone joined us to march this year to show all our kids that they are safe and loved.
Fear and grief brought us together, but what keeps us going is love, solidarity, community and friendship. In the wake of the Dublin riots, that has never felt more important.
We are not interested in discussing trans peoples’ existence – we know they exist, we gave birth to them, and they are our gorgeous babies grown into wonderful kids and young adults. They are funny and clever and kind, and we embarrass and annoy them terribly.
They roll their eyes at us and tell us we are cringe. They cry when someone breaks their hearts or they have a falling out with their friends. In our houses, they are not ‘trans kids’, they are simply, our kids.
It’s important to say also that not all our kids are in crisis. Lots of kids are very clear and grounded in who they are and the crisis lies only in getting them appropriate medical support.
Others are comfortable in the space of social transition while they learn to navigate the world as their new selves. Not all choose puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or surgery. But many do. There are as many experiences as there are trans people because, of course, no two people are the same.
We do enormous damage as a society to our young people when we do not allow them to safely explore the world and themselves. Recently published US census data shows that about 2 percent of the population is Intersex, 3 percent trans and 5 percent non-binary. Gen Z and Gen A are issuing a challenge to the old gender order. This challenge forces us to look closely at the extent to which we treat people differently depending on their gender.
Very tellingly, this idea is causing a lot of distress among those for whom equality has always been a struggle. The norms of the old gender order are so deeply embedded that sometimes even those who are oppressed and dehumanised by the old system fight to keep it.
And so we find ourselves in a moral panic of increasing vitriol and hysteria. Groups are storming libraries and bookshops because they don’t want LGBTQIA+ kids having access to information about themselves. The school curriculum is being challenged by religious groups. This is all happening as part of the increasing rise in extremist groups in Ireland and around the world, and unscrupulous politicians and bad faith actors are eager to cash in on this period of great uncertainty. Wars, pandemics, environmental collapse and genocides are making the world feel like a profoundly unsafe place right now and history shows that, at times like these, small vulnerable groups become scapegoats for our collective fear and unease.
When the Mammies march, we are marching to counter that. We march for all the kids who need a mammy to tell them that they’re wonderful. We march for all the parents out there who are terrorised by the misinformation being spread. We march because we want everyone’s child to be allowed to make decisions about themselves in safety and privacy. And finally, we march to remind people that, even if it takes a while, love always wins and that we will get there together.
Happiest Christmas wishes from all the Mammies xxx