This is a bubble. It’s pretty and ethereal and inviting. It is also fragile.
With even a cursory glance you will spot me, my family, maybe even yourself right smack dad in the middle of that bubble. That’s us in our beautiful house in a beautiful town surrounded by beautiful family, friends and neighbors. We are not rich, but want for nothing. We turn on the faucet and out comes water. We flip a switch and, voila, there is light. If we’re cold or warm we need only adjust the heat or air conditioner. There is never a shortage of food. In fact, our two fridges and two freezers could keep us fed for months on end. We have two reliable cars, a solid roof and all the computers, televisions, tablets and cell phones one would ever need to stay informed and in touch with the world, for better or worse.
Our children, each with their own individual idiosyncrasies, walk out the door each day without fear of danger or criminality against them at all, let alone because of who they are, their life process or choice of self-expression. There exists an undeniable safety in this bubble to the extent that it never even enters any of their minds that they might not be able to live an honest and free life. To only slightly varying degrees, they are all unabashedly willing to leave the house as they see fit with, in our house, anyway, highly limited but carefully injected parental suggestions. We are fortunate; it’s always been this way and we’ve never known or even contemplated anything different.
Until, that is, this whole utopian Nirvana started to evaporate.
Our children, cis- and transgender alike, face an entirely different world… even within our once seemingly invulnerable bubble. An inescapable national discussion about the ugly underbelly of societal thinking has not only surfaced and taken up residency, but has, ironically, bubbled over. The result: abject fear among our children who are not supposed to, whether comfortably in a bubble or not, even ever consider.
It would be utterly fictitious to say that when Jess transitioned five years ago we were not concerned about the reaction of our community, our school and our friends. (Aside: we never worried about our families. That’s being blessed right there.) True, the inhabitants of our bubble were liberal-leaning, highly educated and largely open-minded folks. However, despite the favorable demographics, we knew it was going to be complicated at best, alienating at worst. Indeed, it was complicated then and, if we are being honest, remains complicated, yet wholly manageable, even today. But neither then, nor now, despite having moved to a new bubble, has it ever been alienating. My great consternation: that is about to change.
As of today, beyond the heightened awareness, chatter and vitriol regarding LGBTQ rights (among other things) being spewed by the incoming Presidential regime administration, nothing in our lives has changed. Our bubble hasn’t burst, nor has anyone taken a shot at puncturing a potentially ruinous hole…but we are certainly aware that the acceptance (oh, the irony) of hate (which is actually, duh, fear) is now being supported, sanctioned and encouraged…even in our own once paradaisic bubble.
The morning after the election, myself unnerved, I did as I do every morning and gently opened Jess’s bedroom door to confirm that she was awake and at least contemplating getting ready for school. Instead of finding the usual slumbering blob of adolescence , she sat on the edge of her bed, wide awake, phone in hand, news having been received, crying. For the first time in her life, she was aware, perhaps without even knowing she was aware, of the fragility of our bubble. My kid, who, almost to a fault, doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, suddenly knew that she might now have to.
I’ve never been one to infantilize, shield or be particularly protective of my kids. Based upon how they have conducted their lives thus far, I have confidence in their maturity, decision-making and lack of impulsivity to trust that they will successfully navigate and positively present themselves to the world, even in tough situations. That being said, the new dominion in which we all find ourselves has left me feeling untethered and, at an epic level, profoundly concerned for not only my child’s future, but for the necessity of her (and all my kids’) rethinking their basic view of the world.
Inherent in living in a bubble is the constant underlying and often unconscious fear that it will burst. I now find myself unsure, sometimes from moment to moment, if our bubble has a slow leak or if all the air has already escaped. Either way: it is frightening for all of us, body and soul.