On November 18, 2019, my daughters and I went to the Fourth District Court in downtown Provo for a hearing. My oldest daughter was getting her name and gender marker changed.
Five years earlier, that daughter came out to us and told us that she was transgender. I was expecting something, but not that. When our family started going to Provo Pride when it began 10 years ago, I didn’t know that I had a transgender child. I am so thankful that she was able to trust us enough to tell us this about herself. And I’m not going to lie: it was hard on her and on us. We made mistakes out of our best intentions.
We helped her find therapists, and later she was able to start hormone therapy. I was so very thankful for the good counselors at the high school, for Encircle, and other people who loved and supported my child and my family. We did the best we could, but I wish we had done better. Fortunately, resources, information, and support just keep getting better. I am less afraid for a child coming out now than I was seven years ago.
We all know someone who is queer, who doesn’t fit into the cisgender heteronormative box. If we think we don’t know anyone, it’s just because they have not entrusted us with that truth about themselves.
I have hesitated to tell this story. I’ve deliberately kept my family out of the campaign; after all, I’m the one who sought out this spotlight, not them. But I wanted to explain why I accepted the Equality Utah endorsement. I want you to know why I care about this issue. So I talked to my daughter, and asked for her permission to share this story. After rolling her eyes, she told me that of course I have to share it.
I do not believe that loving my child and advocating for her are contrary to any moral or religious principles. I am encouraged by the example of the Utah State Legislature in enacting the 2015 Utah Antidiscrimination and Religious Freedom Amendments, designed to protect LGBTQ+ Utahns from discrimination while accommodating religious freedom. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints played a major role in this legislation. A good article about the virtue of that compromise is found here: https://www.deseret.com/2021/5/4/22417652/meeting-in-the-middle-religious-freedom-lgbtq-rights-fairness-for-all-equality-act.
There are a lot of rainbow flags in my district. I see these flags as a sign of our willingness to love each other and be inclusive. A rainbow has always been a symbol of hope and promise for me, of a fresh start after stormy turmoil. Let it be so.