Loving Without Labels with Jodie Patterson

For the month of October, we’re kicking off a new theme: bullying. Bullying is a serious topic and we have a ton of interviews lined up to take a look at it from all sorts of angles — from what makes a bully, why the bullied take on a defensive role, to the experiences each side experiences.

A lot of the times what happens with someone who takes on the bully role is that the people they are surrounded by don’t see them as who they could be but instead see them as some small element of who they are right now — and they become trapped. When someone is around people who are constantly pointing out a particular weakness to them, they start believing it too. And as our guest today, Jodie Patterson, says, “The world is unkind to people it doesn’t understand.”

Jodie Patterson is a mother of five, an activist, an author, and a speaker. As an active LGBTQAI advocate, her activism has been recognized by the likes of Hillary Clinton, GLAAD, Family Circle magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine, Yahoo, Refinery29, and numerous other outlets. She also holds the position of Board Director with the Human Rights Campaign and works closely with HRC’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council.

In today’s episode, Jodie brings an incredible story about her son who was born biologically female. At just the age of three, he was able to articulate to her that he was not a girl. But before this moment, he often lashed out and was misunderstood because he was misunderstood. Jodie breaks down the notion that “Bullies are bullies because they are bullied,” explains the importance of encouraging your children to do what they love regardless of the labels the world may put on them, and what having “family values” actually means. We also share some of our own experiences with our children around the themes of bullying, labels, and embracing ‘weird.’

“Having children is the fastest and most direct way to understanding yourself. Through my kids, I’m able to see my flaws and my strengths, and ultimately get closer to my true and most beautiful spirit. There’s no hiding with kids. They force you to either succumb or rise above.”
— Jodie Patterson

Topics Discussed:

[:29] About today’s episode.

[:59] Reading our review of the week.

[1:36] Sophie reads a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson and we talk about how it relates to bullying.

[6:10] We need to believe in ourselves in order to become who we want to be and taking space from others in order to grow.

[9:55] More about today’s episode and how this topic deeply relates to our conversation today with, Jodie Patterson.

[13:53] We’d love your feedback on this episode! Leave a review or tag us on social media and let us know what resonated with you.

[14:20] About our IGNTD Glow Event!

[18:26] The conversation portion of our podcast!

[18:45] Reading an important quote from Jodie.

[19:15] Jodie shares an important story that really illustrates this idea that we need to grow with our children.

[23:50] How language minimizes the human experience and how we constantly have to redefine our understanding around words and labels.

[25:38] Jodie explains discovering the flexibility of language and thought with her trans son.

[28:00] Speaking about the negative affect from the constraints of labels and how this deeply impacted Jodie’s trans son for the first three years of his life.

[32:22] Why Jodie’s son was a bully in a world that didn’t understand him.

[32:25] Breaking down the notion that “Bullies are bullies because they are bullied,” and exploring why it isn’t always the case.

[38:38] The importance of encouraging your children to do what they love and are interested in — regardless of societal norms.

[43:00] Why “Weird is good!”

[44:47] Sharing our own experience with our son, Leo, bullying others.

[47:00] What changed after Jodie’s son vocalized that he was in fact a boy, not a girl? What did she do to help him find his place in the world?

[50:45] Jodie gives her advice for trans children as well as their family and parents.

[52:31] Talking about or journeys as parents and adjusting for our children.

[56:33] The importance of diversifying the people you surround yourself with to broaden your language and experience.

[1:00:00] Talking about bullying in today’s society, the concept of “othering,” and Jodie's approach: “mothering: a social architecture.”

[1:02:45] What does having “family values” actually mean for your family?

[1:09:25] What is the best advice Jodie has ever received?

[1:12:02] What has been Jodie’s proudest moment to-date?

[1:14:06] What has been Jodie’s most difficult moment to-date?

[1:16:42] What are some of Jodie’s self-care rituals?

[1:18:56] What gets Jodie ignited?

Mentioned in this Episode:

IGNTD Glow Event 2019

Jodie Patterson

James Baldwin

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[24:07] “The language ... is not broad enough for the human experience. So we develop language to make this broad, broad universe smaller and manageable ... and in doing that, we feel safe. … But, the sacrifice is that the language minimizes the experience.” — Jodie Patterson

[29:29] “The hard part, sometimes, is that we’re living down to the label. ...The label doesn’t even allow us to actualize our potential.” — Jodie Patterson

[30:33] “I saw Penelope acting out and I did have a red flag around that. ... But now, looking back on it, I can see how we — the world — posed a problem; created a problem for Penelope. Everything that Penelope wanted to do we said, ‘No, not this. But that.’” — Jodie Patterson

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