Abortion, Transgenderism, and the Beatles. Ten Minutes on a Saturday.

Lights up on a 5-year-old boy in the backseat. His mother is driving. They are stopped at an intersection in their small town. 10:25am

“Why are all those people standing there with signs, saying things?”

His questions, though many and often complex, don’t usually render me speechless. But, sitting there at the red light with the window down, hearing the murmur of a repeated Hail Mary and seeing the one stoic-looking woman on the fray, holding her “I Support Planned Parenthood” sign, asking my own complex questions, I had no answer for him.

“I’ll tell you in a minute,” I said, buying a few minutes. This is a five-year-old who knows that a baby grows in a uterus and that Hitler killed a whole bunch of Jews. For better or worse, I don’t tend to mince words when he asks me questions. I give him bits at a time – only as much as he asks – but I don’t put him off and I don’t use euphemisms or half-truths.

“So, why did they hold those signs there?” he asked as we round the corner toward the next stoplight.

“Well, that’s a place where they provide medical care to women and some people don’t think that they should provide the kind of care they are providing.” I knew this wouldn’t sate him for long.

“I don’t know what you mean, Mama.”

“Well, that is a place that gives medical care — ”

“What is medical care?”

Maybe he just needed vocabulary clarification. Maybe he wasn’t going to actually make me explain abortion.

“It’s like a doctor’s office.”

“What kind of doctor’s office? Why would someone not want a woman to go to the doctor’s office?”

Ah, no such luck.

“Well, this is a place that helps women make choices about their bodies. They help them figure out how to get pregnant if they want to and how to not get pregnant if they don’t want to. And they help women not be pregnant anymore if they are pregnant and don’t want to be.”

“Why would someone not want to be pregnant?”

“Well, sometimes people make a mistake or they don’t think it’s the right time to have a baby. And this place helps them not be pregnant anymore. When I was pregnant with you, I wanted to be pregnant. It was not a mistake and Mommy and I felt like we were ready to raise a baby. But sometimes women get pregnant and they don’t want to be. And they don’t feel ready. So, they go to a place like this.”

“So, why don’t those people want you to go there?”

“Well, they think that women should not have the right to choose what they do with their bodies if they are pregnant. They are mad at the doctors who help these women make the choices. The sign the man was holding said, ‘Pro-Life’, which is what people call themselves when they think women should not get to make that choice. The opposite is ‘Pro-choice’ when you think women should be able to choose.”

“Oh,” he said. “I’m pro-choice.”

“Me too,” I said.

“It’s a good thing I am a boy, though, and I don’t need to worry about making a choice. Because boys don’t get pregnant.”

(In re-telling this story last night, a friend reminded me that this might be a good time to remind him that he does need to worry about getting someone else pregnant, but the conversation took a different turn.)

“Well, right. Most boys don’t get pregnant.”

“What do you mean?”

And thus a conversation ensued about transgendered people. And how some people’s body parts don’t match what they feel like and so even though a person might have a penis, she might feel like a girl. And even though a person might have a uterus, he might feel like a boy. And that boy might, when he is a man, decide to be pregnant or even get pregnant by mistake. And so, in that case, there could be a man who is pregnant. I told him then that he will come across people who tell him men can’t be pregnant.

“And you can tell them,” I offered, “that they can be. You can tell them what you know or believe.”

“Or,” he countered, “I can just let it be.”

“Right,” I said. “Or you can just let it be.”

“Hey! I know a song ‘Let it Be’! When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be!”

“Yep. That’s a Beatles song. You have that song on your bedtime mix. Do you know what it means? He is saying when you’re worried, God comes and talks to him and speaks words of wisdom and says, ‘Hey dude. Just chill. The answer will come.”

“Words of wisdom means words that are smart.”


“Do I know any other Beatles songs?”

“You do. You know ‘Octopus’ Garden’, ‘Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da’, ‘Hey Jude’, ‘Yellow Submarine’, ‘Beautiful Boy’, and probably a few others. The Beatles are a really great and well-known band. Most people know the Beatles and lots of people love them.”

“Do they still play on the radio?”

“Their music does, but the band isn’t together anymore. Most of them are dead now, actually. But their music is timeless. That means that people have loved it for a long time and people will continue to love it for a long time.”

“I think all music is timeless. That’s what music is. It’s timeless. We will always love it.”

Aaaaaaand scene. 10:35am.


11 thoughts on “Abortion, Transgenderism, and the Beatles. Ten Minutes on a Saturday.

  1. As a person who is pro-life, the conversation has gone similar but my children ask about the baby. Mostly because in my telling it, pro-life means for life (not anti-choice). When my children learn that the baby is taken out of the mommy, they understand the baby dies. So they ask, why wouldn’t she just wait a few months and give the baby to someone who really wants a baby. Good question. Permanent death vs a few months being inconvenienced (a baby is not an inconvenience, it is a life).

    • We will never agree on this, Alisa, but I believe that the crux of the issue is political. Choice vs. no choice and the sign holder was saying “we don’t think you should get to make this choice.” I think the term “pro-life” is misleading and I have always thought so. It’s propaganda. Who could ever say he or she is not for life? I am both pro life and pro-choice. I prefer to say instead that the two sides of the coin are “pro-choice” and “anti-choice.” And whether one agrees with the choice or not, it is not for anyone else to decide. Don’t you parent in a way that your kids get to make choices you wish they wouldn’t make but that you understand they have a right to make? Maybe you don’t. I know I do.

      I think it’s very telling, also, that The Who — a very inquisitive, bright, logical thinker who does not hold back with his thoughts or questions — never went to the baby element of abortion. He knows what “pregnant” means and understands clearly how babies are made, how and where they grow, and how and when they are born. And yet, still, his discussion around it was choice. Because he knows — as do I — that the pregnant people are the hosts and the ones who get to make the decisions about their bodies and what does or does not grow inside of it.

      • I really love our relationship because there are very few things that we agree on but we always treat each other so kindly. Our family & church supports a women’s resource center that doesn’t take government funding, provides the services of PP except abortions. Women receive counseling from other women who have had an abortion (the hurt these women have been through- they are so broken & wish someone had told them how it feels). The center helps women with finding options and if they choose to keep their baby, they receive items needed until the child is 3 (clothes, baby gear, diapers, car seats, etc). Through this center, I have seen another side of abortion not just what happens to the baby but what happens to the mom. It is so sad. There are laws to protect people from harm, this is something that harms. Many pro-choice have never experienced the pain of abortion, the pain of regret, pain of wishing someone stopped the horror. Jesus would never hold a pro-life sign and yell at women going in for an abortion. Jesus would be waiting at the exit to comfort them when they leave.

        Sorry for my crazy rant. Love you for challenging me in my beliefs always.

    • Thanks! I love the What Makes a Baby Book. It definitely opened the door to the discussion of being transgender — especially at a time when there were no trans people in The Who’s immediate experience. He has a few points of reference now, which helps in the explanation.

  2. Amazing conversation, amazing kid, amazing you to explain it understandably, amazing how he understood your foray into transgender was more than he could handle (and it surprised me that you went there with a 5-year-old and I didn’t fully understand it either!) and his smooth move to the beatles. Of course, while I am also pro-choice, alisa’s comments are important for a future time to discuss, I think as well. That convo could have gone anywhere…very challenging to parent these days!

    • I’m certain that at some point, when he is ready to hear it, he will better understand the actuality of abortion. I take my cues from him. Had he asked what happens when a pregnant person decides not to be pregnant, I would have found a delicate way to explain it. But he didn’t ask. Yet.

  3. Love this. Beautifully done. Theo and I have not had to have the abortion talk yet. Some recent hard ones were about cancer and AIDS (someone else told him about AIDS…oy!) Theo and I have lots of talks about trans issues and gender queerness and it’s amazing how “normal” it is for him to imagine men who grew up girls and vice versa. He also uses the expression “whose body grows like a boy/girl”. So, he gets the concept of a man whose body grows like a girls and vice versa. The other day we were discussing bras and how they can be uncomfortable and how some women don’t want to wear them and we discussed why they do. And in that conversation he said some men also wear them – men whose bodies grow like women’s. He also once told me that his stuffed animal is a he but feels like a she. It’s all so complicated to us, but to the kids, they are so expansive. 🙂

    • It is amazing how far a non-judgmental tone of voice and a straightforward discussion can go. There are so many things that The Who takes at face value because it’s been presented to him as “normal.”

      I love that Theo has a transanimal. Ha! The Who referenced his “womanish man” from the Story Pirates story he wrote during this weekend’s conversation, which I thought was really cool — the way he is integrating the things he knows and hears about into his worldview.

  4. Pingback: Out. | Mama Hears a Who

  5. It’s good to confuse children with nonsense. That way they’ll have no ethics when they grow up and will have no compunction against killing their own kids. Then the whole family is happy! Who doesn’t love a dead grandchild?

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