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H&H Week 9: How Was I To Know?

This is the ninth Humans&Harmonies (H&H) blog post. Every Friday, another H&H blog post will be released. Each post will have an associated song that you can watch and listen to via YouTube. The songs are written from a perspective other than my own. This week the song is written about a father I met at a bar after one of my shows. Click HERE to listen to this week's song called "How Was I To Know?"

The lyrics to "How Was I To Know?" are at the bottom of this page for reference.

“I really like what you’re doing, traveling the country with your guitar and everything. I wanted to do something like that. I still want to do something like that. But when I was your age, what are you, 22? — I had a kid. He changed my life. For the better. I’ve learned so much from him. Well, I don’t know how you feel about kids who transition genders, but when my little girl was 12, she told me he was a boy. And that she wanted to be full blown boy. It shook me up. How do you trust a 12 year old with a surgical-type decision like that? I’m not anti-Trans, but I never considered the possibility in my own child. Ever since then it has changed everything in how I parent. Now he’s going off to college — gonna have a great life. So I’m a little empty. Maybe I’ll travel the country with my guitar too.”

This was my first show playing only my own songs!

We met after a gig I played near Portland. He was a musician too. He wanted to talk about my music as soon as I got off the stage. It was my first time playing only original songs for an audience. Normally, I mix in cover songs, but the bar had asked me to only play originals for the sake of protecting artists royalties.

He complimented my style, teased me about the rawness of my guitar playing (I’ve never had a teacher — except for YouTube), and eventually dove in where he wanted to go — my songwriting.

“I loved your lyrics — it’s a shame because so many people skip listening to those. Usually people just like to relax into the sounds but then forget to hear the words too.”

With compliments like these, it wasn’t long before I liked the guy. We got to talking about other areas of life, and where we were going next. That’s when he opened up about his son, who had been born female.

Portland has a beautiful rose garden, where thousands of roses are groomed in non-standard ways.

Now, I am fully in support of the Trans community. I think personal autonomy is a hallmark of this wonderful country we live in, and if somebody feels they should be a different gender, I say go for it. But the idea of making a large decision at twelve years old made me think twice. I can’t even imagine the number of times it made my new friend think.

We talked about the process of transitioning, and its unique challenges in younger teens. One quote stuck with me that night as I lay in bed thinking about what I would do as a father.

“It’s such a blessing that he had the confidence to tell us.”


oh i still get this feelin', i didn't do it right

i should've left your room painted white

but how was i to know?

my life it stopped at 22, all for you

and i painted it pink, you probably wanted blue

but how was i to know?

and aren't you too young --

to understand what can't be undone?

when does your autonomy deserve more trust than me?

or maybe i'm just too old --

to remember I don't want to be told

who i am, i am your friend, but how was i to know?

how was i to know?

Multnomah Falls -- one of the beauties on my way to Portland!
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