Updated: Jul 29, 2021
By Blaire Ostler
For over a year my daughter has talked about how she wants to marry a girl. She draws pictures of two-bride weddings, she marries her My Little Ponies when she plays, and tells us that she loves girls because they smell like coconuts. Our first indication that she might be non-hetero was in kindergarten. She got into a heated argument with a boy in her class who told her that girls could only marry boys. She took it quite personally and held firm in her position that girls could marry whomever they want. In her words, “He can’t tell me what to do.”
The other night, while my husband and daughter were reading before bedtime, she asked him, “If I marry a girl, can I make a baby with a girl? I really want a cute, tiny baby.”
We have open conversations about reproduction, anatomy, and biology, so this question was not entirely out of the ordinary. She knows how babies are made, but she wanted to know if there was another way to make a baby without marrying a man.
He responded, “Well, there are a lot of ways for couples to have a baby, but if two women without sperm want to make a baby together they need to get sperm from someone else, or they can adopt a baby.”
Elizabeth thought about that and said, “Okay. When I marry a girl, I can get some sperm from you, so my wife and I can make a baby?”
Drew smiled and told her she had his support. Whether she fully understood the complexities of consanguineal genetics, sperm donation, or artificial insemination was not what was important in that moment. What was important was that she knew she had options and her father’s support. Detailed conversations about sperm donation could wait.
Upon hearing their conversation, all her previous commentary on someday marrying a girl felt legitimatized by her unique and thoughtful request. Her desires were insistent, consistent, and persistent―enough so that she put thought into how she could have children with a wife.
In that moment, I felt more resolve about my child’s needs than ever before. Her hopes and dreams for the future were innocent and pure. She was worthy and divine. There was no sin in her desires, no perversion, no corruption, no immorality. They were the desires of a guiltless child making plans for her future. In her mind, her future had options, her parents’ support, a wife, a child, and happiness. As her mother, I would not let anyone, nor any church taint her hopeful vision of the future.
I was transformed. I changed from the inside out. My personal struggles as a queer Latter-day Saint didn’t matter anymore. All I cared about was protecting this beautiful little girl from anyone who would threaten her happiness. I could almost feel my skin growing iridescent scales that covered my body like bulletproof armor. I could feel wings sprout from my shoulder blades and expand into massive shields. My chest rumbled and throat burned as if I was breathing fire. There was a steady warmness in the depths of my chest that felt like a confirmation from the Spirit. I would protect my daughter with the fierceness of a dragon, and it was righteous to do so. A mother dragon was born.
Being queer myself and a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I knew all too well how the rejection of queerness could affect the health and well-being of a queer child. All the anxiety, depression, panic attacks, isolation, and rejection I experienced left me suicidal. I spent far too many hours, days, weeks, and months contemplating whether my children were better off with a dead mother or a queer mother. However, my daughter’s request gifted me a moment of clarity and my question had a nearly audible answer. I didn’t need to die for my children. I needed to live for my children. I went through hell and back for a reason and that reason was to make the world a safer place for our queer youth.
Even with my newly found clarity, this wasn’t about me. It was one thing for my church to throw stones at me and it was quite another for them to throw stones at my child. My church said this innocent child was a “challenge of the flesh.” My church taught that her hopes for the future were an ungodly perversion making her unclean, unworthy, defective, or broken. My church claimed her Heavenly Parents would disapprove of her dreams and desires. My church attested she would be eternally cut off from her Heavenly Family if she married a woman and raised a child with her. My church was gravely mistaken about her.
My doubts about my place in the Church melted away like hot wax dripping from my uncompromising purpose. All that mattered was making sure my daughter’s happiness would not be polluted by a shortsighted institution that missed out on knowing her unique spirit. I could almost feel badly for how much they are losing by rejecting our queer children. Beautiful children like mine could have been an unfailing bulwark―a buttress of strength. Sadly, that would not be happening, yet I would not grieve their loss for them. I had more important work to do.
As her mother, it is my job to ward off potential threats that might harm her. I have no doubt that as she grows older, my role as her protector will change. Eventually, she would grow her own wings and no longer need mine. However, until that day, she would grow safely under my wings that suddenly felt impenetrable with my resolute purpose.
Growing up in the Church, I was taught motherhood was my greatest calling and nothing I would ever do would be as important as raising my children. I felt its truthfulness surging through my veins as I looked at my young daughter. Motherhood is my greatest calling. If pressed to choose between the Church and my child, my child would win every time without hesitation. I was created to be her protector, nurturer, and advocate, and I had my church to thank for it. I am what they made me―her mother dragon.