I often say that my life is like a sitcom. Recently, situations that we are exposed to as a family are just comical. Until one year ago we were perceived as an ordinary family when it came to composition: husband, wife and kids. My spouse and I met in college, we went to graduate school together, we got married, and we had two daughters. We had been meticulously building our very granola life -- family, jobs, house and a cute dog named Lola -- when my other half expressed to the world that she is a woman and would start presenting herself as a woman. This news surprised some, shocked most and unraveled a series of fortunate and unfortunate events.
The most common question addressed to me is "Did you know?" The response in my mind is "As a chemical engineer and scientist, I am trained to find correlations and understand data and trends. Of course I knew!" My actual respectful, granola response is "Yes, I knew."
The second most common question is "Are you happy?" The answer to this question is yes, but the fact that no one asked me this before says a lot about our society. If you are assumed to have what is considered a "normal" life, you are assumed to be happy. But when you deviate from the norm, somehow you are assumed to be vulnerable to unhappiness.
The third most common question is "How are the girls dealing with this?" My answer is that the girls are doing great. Well-adjusted and educated children should not develop prejudicial thoughts about the composition of a family or about gender. Children ask a few very honest questions, they move on, and they are truly happy if you are happy. The mistake adults make when thinking about children's reactions to deviations from the "norm" is assuming that children are somehow going to be traumatized. The fact is that adults are typically the ones setting the arbitrary standards and stereotypes. If children grow up in a diverse environment, diversity is a just part of life.
Throughout the last year we have discovered the good, the bad and the ugly in our lives. The good are the majority; we are fortunate to have a network of family and friends who are smart, understanding and have developed critical thinking throughout their lives. When the good do not understand, they ask, read, learn and make sure they are supporting us by listening and offering to help. The bad have given us the power of invisibility by completely ignoring the evolution of our family. (This is totally not cool, considering that my car is also invisible.) Their indifference has a variable foundation, depending on their beliefs and culture. Sometimes their resistance to change is based on religious beliefs, and sometimes it is based on discomfort with deviation from the "norm" itself. The ugly are a small but very vocal minority who left our social media accounts in a hurry, but not before they'd launched their attacks. There is not much to say about the ugly. I am an engineer, and I think like an engineer: These folks were loved, they were missed when they left, and thankfully, today, they are gone.
I am very fortunate; I have been given a unique chance to discover the true colors of people in my life. I did not have to change my name, my gender markers or my body. I have simply continued loving a kind, compassionate and intelligent human being who loves me, takes care of me and our family and also happens to cook like a master chef! This resistance is not new; this is the same sort of resistance to change that we experienced as a country during the civil rights movement. All arguments I have personally heard against our family's evolution are based on a lack of understanding of biology, psychology, gender and sexual orientation. Not one argument has been solidly founded on scientific and objective principles. I know change is possible through education; this has been proven over and over throughout history. As a society, then, we must move forward and embrace the beauty of diversity; we must empower every human being by recognizing the spectrum. We have evolved to be capable of seeing the rainbow as gradual changes of color. Let's use this natural power of detecting scattered light to brighten the future for all.