Amanda Jette Knox and Zoe Knox have been together for 22 years. The couple, who live in Canada, have three children and appear to be the type of family that we’d all want to be a part of: warm, caring, and accepting (one of the kids has blue hair!). Two years ago, when their daughter Alexis came out as transgender, they couldn’t have been more supportive.
Today, Amanda Jette Knox writes, her family and marriage couldn’t be in a better place. Which is saying something, considering the changes they’ve experienced, because Amanda’s partner, Zoe, has also recently come out as transgender.
In an essay on Your Tango, Amanda Jette Knox (who also posts tirelessly on her own blog about the goings-on in her world) writes that her wife, Zoe, came out after years of tension and, finally, a date night gone wrong. Zoe clearly wanted to tell Amanda something, Knox writes, but couldn’t. When Zoe did tell her wife that she was transgender, Amanda didn’t see it coming:
“Are you gay?” I inquired. Hey, it happens, right? Maybe she wasn’t as into me as my ego wanted me to believe.
“No,” she said.
“OK.” And then I just threw it out there. “So, do you want to be a woman or something?”
Silence. And suddenly, I knew. But I had to ask again because I needed to hear the answer.
“You…” My voice was caught in my throat. “You’re a… a woman?”
More silence. My stomach was in knots. I wanted to throw up.
“I can’t talk about this,” she said in the smallest, most vulnerable voice I had ever heard from her. I felt my heart break on the spot.
And I, the supportive mom of a trans child, the advocate, the ally, friend of the LGBT community, replied with an eloquent, “Oh, you have got to be f*cking kidding me!”
It’s an honest response, and an important one, showing that just because you’re an ally and an advocate doesn’t mean you can’t be surprised or feel overwhelmed. “I know when I was looking for stories of partners of transitioning people, I couldn’t seem to find anything that mirrors our experience,” Amanda Jette Knox wrote in an email to Uproxx. “Either the relationship didn’t work out, or (rarely) the relationship looked perfect. I figured I should probably give people a realistic look into what it can be like when you’re trying to be supportive, but struggling at the same time. It’s much better now, but I had to go through that anger and sadness and grief first.”
Not only did Zoe Knox’s family step up to be her support when she began her transition, but her co-workers responded with overwhelming acceptance, even throwing Zoe a party when she returned to work.
In a conversation with Buzzfeed, Zoe Knox says that at the end of March she did the most frightening thing she’d ever done: emailed her place of employment to let them know she’d be taking some time off and then coming back as her true self.
Zoe said she was very nervous to come out to her co-workers, as she works in a predominately male environment. But, at the end of March she emailed everyone, told them what was happening, and said she would be taking a week off to work from home.
“Writing that email was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “After I clicked send, I thought, That’s it. There’s no going back, and I had no idea what the response would be.”
In response, she got over 70 messages of support. But that was only the beginning. When Zoe Knox arrived at work after a week of off and one spent working remotely, she was greeted with a new nameplate, supportive notes from her colleagues, and a framed quote by Oscar Wilde, reminding herself that she should be herself. Everyone else, as the saying goes, is already taken.
But the biggest surprise of all was the fact that a meeting that had been scheduled on the day of Zoe’s return wasn’t a boring chat in the conference room, but a party welcoming her back, celebrating her being her true self, and letting her know that the people who worked with her loved her. Even Amanda Jette Knox, who writes that she was prepared to go in with her “advocacy pants on” spent her time reaching for tissues.
I wish we lived in a world where it was no big deal to come out. Sadly, that is not the case for many LGBTQ people. We live in a world of bathroom bills and “religious freedom” laws that directly target the members of our community. We live in a world where my family gets threats for daring to speak out for trans rights. We live in a world where we can’t travel to certain locations for fear of discrimination – or worse.
So when I see good stuff happening – especially when it takes place right on our doorstep – I’m going to share it far and wide. Let’s normalize this stuff. Let’s make celebrating diversity our everyday, rather than hating or fearing it.
Let’s continue to do that! In a world where bills are still routinely introduced to marginalize and demean the LGBT+ community, let’s share this story until something like this is seen as so normal that we don’t have to treat it as a celebration that people are doing the right thing by being accepting. Instead, let’s just recognize it’s the right thing to do.