Dan Lopata

Live, Love, Listen

Archive for the category “TransParenting”

Where did the friendly Sky go?

Last Friday my oldest daughter got married. This wedding was a huge milestone. As a kid she went through many many struggles which included many trips to the hospital and tons of therapy. She is content with a full time job that she likes, a townhouse that suits her needs and found the perfect nerdy compliment to her and married him. My wife just posted a really nice picture of me with my kids at the wedding, but I can’t ‘like’ it. It’s missing one. It’s missing my youngest who was not able to attend. 

He is in the hospital battling similar stuff that my oldest battled. As an addition, he’s transgender which adds to the severe social anxiety he deals with. 

I miss him, I’m worried about him, I don’t know how to help him. Chances are good he’s going to a long-term inpatient program located an hour and a half away.

My heart, being filled with joy for my oldest is completely broken for my youngest.

I’m depressed, literally (I take meds and do therapy for it), and I’m lost.

Most of you know I’m also very much the activist for progressive causes; BLM, Gun Control, Economic parity, Universal Health Care, and LGBTQ rights. So when I’m dealing with my son I’m completely immersed in Transgender issues. When he came out, I swore that I would not let his gender identity consume me and become the primary signifier of my identity. That is impossible. 

Jeff Sessions has decried that gender identity is not a protected class and employers can fire people purely because they are trans. Trump has issued an E/O barring transgender persons from serving in the military. Bathroom bills are passing in states across the nation, further alienating my son and those who are gender non-binary. The suicide rate of transgender individuals is close to 50% and transgender individuals are murdered at a higher rate than any other class of people. Because they aren’t a protected class under Title VII or Title IX, their murderers cannot be charged with a hate crime.

The cards are stacked against him for simply being himself.

And there’s nothing I can do to make it better. There’s nothing I can do to make him better from the internal issues he deals with and there’s nothing I can do make it better for him externally.

The only thing I can do is talk about it, write about it, and try and educate people in order to help change the oppressive culture we live in.

It’s hard for me, it’s lonely for me, I can’t even fathom how hard and lonely it must be for him. 

Knowing all of this, you’d think it would be easy for me to call out offensive language and behavior toward minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community, but it’s not. The behavior is so ingrained and accepted in society it’s hard not to feel like “the bad guy”, “the over-reactor”, and guilty for calling people out. It’s hard for me, even when I’m so close to those being oppressed.

I need your help. I have no energy left. I need you to pick up the slack of calling out the language and behavior of repression while I focus on what’s best for my son. Can you help make the world better while I help make my son better?

All I want is for my kids to find contentment and comfort with being themselves like my oldest has. You can help.

TransParenting Intro

I battled with the idea to make this an entirely separate blog focusing on being the Dad of a transgender son, but decided that Live, Love, Listen is the appropriate place. This blog is about the things that are important to me, and the self-centered person I am, or maybe a the person I am who wants to see a better world for all thinks it should be important to you. So it remains here among my music, running, and humanist posts.

We recently came out publicly about our son, and now I find myself in a time of Listening. I’ve been overwhelmed since he came out to us, then to the family, then to his school, and now us coming out to everyone, and overwhelming expresses itself in form of depression for me. It has been a struggle, I’ve been overeating, not exercising, buying pop tarts and birthday cake fudge stripes. I’ve been binge-ing on Netflix, and distant. Fortunately I had to go to the ADK with Amy and that got me hiking.  And, fortunately, I am now in a place that I recognize my depression and the things I do to myself. So currently I’m engaging in running again, took a couple of my kids hiking at Stony Brook State Park, and getting to sleep a little earlier by only watching one Netflix episode of the many shows I’m following. I’ve got some gigs coming up too that I’m excited about. So I am engaging in taking care of myself. This is the result of learning how to listen, listen to others, my therapist, and my body/mind (sorry about the dualism there).

Other things I’m listening to are the responses to our coming out. (Names omitted):

– Sky is very lucky to have been born into such a kickass family. And hopefully the world is changing quickly enough that he won’t have to experience the hate and fear that his predecessors endured.

– I liked this post. If i could like it numerous times without it actaully unliking it i would..sending my love and support

– I have learned over the years that it is the most important thing to be yourself, and be true to yourself no matter what. Sky has done one of the best things for himself.

– Dan & Amy, I’ve yet to meet Sky, but I already adore him because he is your child & I do so appreciate the 2 of you. And I admire all 3 of you even more now. Count me among the legion surrounding you all with love and support. Bravo!

– I am truly impressed by you as parents stepping out into YOUR Authenticity. Many parents of a TrueGender child are not willing to join their child on the frontlines of their life in such a way

For those of us who are living in our Truegender, our actions are acutely tied to the support system that embraces or expels us. We have known who we are for a longer time than those in the ever widening circle of our lives and our choice to Reveal and live our True Life should be as simple as pulling back the curtain. Sadly, that is not possible in every community. Sky will benefit from your continued Unconditional Love and he will also thrive in the local LGBTQ community and the larger public community of Upstate NY, which is exceptional in its acceptance of gender diversity. Sadly, locality and environment really do impact our progress and future success in realizing our intentions. I honor you, Dan and Amy, for YOUR commitment to transition in YOUR life as Sky approaches a fuller understanding of his own challenges.

For my part, I can attest to experiencing no external pushback which has been instrumental in my own measure of Self Confidence in processing what I need to and proceeding to actualize my hopes, dreams and ambitions. Continued therapeutic guidance has been essential for me to staying on track, but I am sure you and Sky are well aware of its benefits, judging by the strong United front you present.

My sister is an active board member of PFLAG in Chicago and force of nature in the LGBTQ community there. If you haven’t already, I invite you to join PFLAG and add your energy to its mission. We are also blessed by having the Gay Alliance of Greater Rochester and The Empty Closet as such a strong resources locally.

The timing of this announcement could not be better timed, coming just before our annual Pride Celebration. I will not soon forget being a Pride Parade participant months after I initiated my full disclosure and experiencing the love and affirmation radiating from the sidewalks 2 years ago. For me, after decades of self-imposed suppression it was a triumphant tear-filled coming home at last. I can only hope Sky feels the same welcome I experienced and banks that joyous validation.

Please accept my offer of availability to you and Sky, should you need counsel, confirmation and companionship on your journey. We are all pioneers, representatives of a larger Global initiative that invites every Human Being on the planet to live Out Loud, Unapologetically as who we really are and embrace the opportunity to evolve to a new level of Human Understanding and in the process, Change the World.

– I don’t often love facebook posts, but, when I do, I love facebook posts.

– He is so lucky to have you. You must have created a loving and supportive environment for him to be so brave, so young. Congratulations.

– Congratulaions on the freedom this will bring for him. You should be so proud of him. And what great parents to be so supportive (as it should be).

– His ability to be comfortable in his own skin and willingness to share this with others stems from your acceptance of who your children are and allowing them to be themselves. And loving them all the same. I hope my girls will feel this love from us too as this is the most important job as parents. Nice work, Dan. And your Sky is a little brighter today.

These fill me with hope. But I still get stuck and look for the bad; like digging to see who hasn’t “liked” our post, and routing out all of the anti-LBGTQ news, and recognizing that the Pope believes the Church should ask for forgiveness but refuses to change doctrine. Still, even with all the negative, I look at court cases, I look at responses to my post, I look at the great State of NY (We are fortunate to live in the Greater Rochester Area which has been called the San Francisco of the East), I look at the rest of the country, and I am convinced at times that the war has been won. What we are witnessing is the last, desperate dying cries of bigoted people hiding behind their “Holy Books” while the majority of us see right through their thin veneer.

Yes, Trump, the GOP, and Religion are still extremely dangerous to the health and safety of the LGBTQ community, but the courts are ruling with us, public sentiment is on our side and we will win. Remember that vitriol was just as intense during the Civil Rights fight, and even though we still live in a racist society, the laws were changed and the Civil Rights war is won with constant changes to make things better, and we all know who the bad guys were. We are witnessing this again, and if I believe the arc of the universe curves toward justice, “We Shall Overcome” again.

But this doesn’t happen by declaring “victory” and sitting on our laurels, we must continue and take the fight to them. It is time to stop playing defense and start asserting our rights, our strongly held beliefs that are in line with human rights, not religious rights. And demand that others’ rights to discriminate end at the boundaries of the church yard.


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