Gay Life Volume 33, Number 8
Every now and then I’m reminded of how sheltered I really am. One reminder came when I saw the recent video footage of two teenage girls beating up a transgender woman at a local McDonald’s.
While I cannot begin to understand the everyday challenges transgender women face, I was once a teenage girl. I clearly remember being 18 and 14—the ages of her attackers. Yet I cannot fathom what was going through their minds, nor can I understand the anger and hatred that inspired their attack.
Personally, I hesitate to accuse anyone—even these girls— of being inherently evil. Not only is that the easy way out, but it does all of us disservice. Only when we can understand the roots of our problems do we have a chance to eradicate them.
I don’t yet know enough about this incident, but my first thoughts went to the attackers’ parents, probably because I saw the video footage while writing this month’s story on parenting. It is difficult not to wonder about the environment in which these girls were raised. I’m reminded of the 1989 movie “Parenthood,” in which the young Keanu Reeves delivers possibly the best line in his career:
“You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car—hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any [expletive deleted] be a [parent].”
I don’t know what home life was like for these girls. I do know that devoted samesex couples who want to start a family in a stable and loving environment still face obstacles, while children are simultaneously being raised in homes that condone violence and bigotry. This is certainly one of the world’s ongoing injustices.
Of course, blaming their parents is not the answer. My mom once thanked me for turning out all right, and I answered: “Well, you raised me right!” But she said no, that wasn’t it at all. While parenting does play a significant role in the outcome of some, she knew of parents who did absolutely everything right and ended up with less-than-ideal progeny.
Ultimately, parents are not the only influence on their children, but all children deserve the chance to grow up free from prejudice. And kids have a much better shot overall when they are raised by parents who exhibit tolerance, patience, and love.