Like many people in Missouri, I grew up in a conservative family. Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who was openly LGBTQ, and my church taught me that LGBTQ people were sinful. I am now the proud mom of a trans son. I have learned so much from him and on this journey as a parent. But one thing hasn’t changed since I gave birth to him years ago: I know God loves him, and all babies.
Early in my professional career as a therapist, I had clients come to me because they trusted me. Witnessing their honesty and courage further pushed me to understand that LGBTQ people want the same things we all want: to love and be loved and to be accepted for who they are.
When my son told me he was transgender, I was scared. Like many Missourians, I didn’t know anyone who was trans and was afraid people would be rude. I’m not proud of my initial response. I know I contributed to his pain and anguish as a teenager.
But what I realized is that my children are proof of the great love that God accepts for all children. I am grateful to know my children and to be taught, by them, how to love them best. I’ve learned that you don’t have to understand everything about being transgender to love someone for who they are.
I know now that transgender children, like all young people, have the best chance to thrive when they have the health care they need and the support of adults they count on. Having caregivers who could understand and help my son was so important to our family. Thanks to that gender-affirming healthcare, my son can pursue his dreams. This is what all children deserve.
Little did I know I would have a trans child, let alone be moved to write something like this. Politics is not my way. I just want to help people heal and come from a place of love. But when I think about what some Missouri politicians are doing to my son and people like him, my mama bear side comes out.
Right now, Missouri is considering more than 30 anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ bills. Some of these laws target trans children’s participation in regular school activities, while others would limit or ban certain health measures altogether.
The message these bills send to LGBTQ people, including my son, is clear: “Don’t be yourself!” That’s a terrible message to send to anyone.
Between us, my husband and I have four delightful children. Our children are precious to us. We love getting together to celebrate their birthdays, when they choose their favorite meal (often my husband’s four-star meatloaf). As a therapist and as a mom, I want the same things for all children: support, security, and the freedom to become who they really are.
Dawna Daigneault is a therapist in Kansas City, where she lives with her husband.