Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Was Smiling Inside All the Way Home

Editor’s Note: Please enjoy this inspiring guest post from Wayne, the father of Nicole, a transgender teen GLAD is representing in her fight against harassment and bullying in school. They are quickly becoming influential advocates for Maine’s transgender community, and you will understand why after you read this.

Nicole and I had a very special day on Friday, May 13. My wife Kelly and I are so proud of her. Prior to the Joint Standing Judiciary Committee’s vote on LD 1046, a bill to repeal part of the Maine Human Rights Act to prevent transgender people from using appropriate restroom facilities, we were invited to speak to the Democrats on the committee for about 30 minutes before they voted. Nicole did a great job.

When we arrived in Augusta and she saw the capitol building she got very nervous and scared.

“We are going there?” she asked.

I said, “Yes that is where all of the laws are promulgated and passed into law. Don’t worry, I will be with you and just remember to just be yourself and everyone will love you.”

We parked and walked into the lobby to wait for GLAD attorneys Jennifer Levi and Janson Wu and a couple of lobbyists. Nicole went to the restroom while we were waiting and after about 20 minutes I asked Jennifer to check on her. She was in a great deal of pain from a nervous stomach. After another five minutes I went in to tell her we had to go. She came out looking pretty bad; I was ready to pull the plug. She said she still wanted to go, so we went to our meeting.

I started to tell our story and quickly suggested they ask Nicole what she experienced and how she felt. She had the lawmakers’ full attention. She talked about the good times, what it was like to be a young, out transgender child and how it quickly changed. She talked about the bullying and harassment that she has experienced. She talked about why trans kids only want to go to the bathroom and visit with their friends and why it would be so harmful for trans kids if this bill were to pass. She explained that she currently uses the girl’s bathroom and locker room at her current school without any problems. She ended with explaining how hard it was to have to be stealth, to have her dad live in another town, and how difficult it was to understand what adults were so afraid of, when her peers have no problems with trans kids.

What a rewarding experience to see her finally have a voice. As she talked she became more and more confident and I became more and more proud of her. I could not help think that this might help make up for some of the pain and abuse that she has had to endure.

We went to the work session to wait for the committee vote. We were pulled out a number of times to talk to other key leaders. She did a great job every time. At the end of the day, the vote was 8-5 that LD 1046 "ought not to pass." I believe that Nicole helped move votes in our favor.

She told Jennifer that it was one of the best days of her life – she got to miss school, the vote was favorable, and she got a Snickers bar.

We walked out of the capitol building holding hands, and she smiled and said, “Daddy maybe I should be an attorney like Jennifer, or governor to help make sure we help people.”

I smiled and said, “Sweetie, you can do anything you want. You are a special girl and all you have to do is work hard and never give up.” She stopped and said, “I love you Daddy.” I was ready to cry, but I had promised her I would not cry that day.

We got in the car and she immediately fell asleep. I do not think either one of us slept the night before. As we were driving home, I thought maybe what we are going through is meant to be, maybe this experience will provide her with the energy, the resolve and the motivation to do great things. I was smiling inside all the way home. As I started to calm down and reflected on the morning’s events, I reminded myself that Nicole is still a little girl who will have many hopes and dreams and my job is to make sure she has a chance to explore the many options before her. In the end I just want her to be a happy and well-adjusted young adult who has the confidence and basic skills to do whatever she wants to do with her life. As we rolled into into our driveway I felt good, relaxed and hopeful.


Anonymous said...

You're a wonderful father sir! I myself and I know many of my friends yearn to have a father like you who supports their child whether LGBT or straight. Your daughter is going to be very thankful to have a dad who just does the right thing! Hopefully you're an inspiration to all the fathers out there who believe machismo and not openmindendness is the way to go! Anyways kudos to you sir you're a hero!

Webmaster - Bergen(NJ) PFLAG said...

Anonymous (above) said it very well. But wondering how old is Nicole? a teen? pre-teen? sounds like she will be a great activist!

GLAD said...

Yes, father and daughter are both amazing! Nicole is a young teen. And we agree - she is going to be a powerful force for good in the world (she already is)!

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful experience, thanks for sharing with us your awesome triumph. It does go to show that each of us has the potential to make a difference if we can overcome our fears. thanks again. Leon