Visibility leads to education

I am super stoked! Two amazing moments have come up directly because I decided to be visible when Rachel came out. I’ve always said that if I can just help one person or if I can change just one opinion then I am making a difference and being visible is worth it. I know that my position as an open and affirming parent is not always a popular position. I understand that by openly talking about Rachel and talking about being an advocate for the LGBT could and often does ostracize myself. We have to live with the effects of our decisions and I am willing to take the bad with the good. When good things happen they are amazing, no matter how little. When bad things happen, instead of looking at them as bad, I look at them as missed opportunities to provide teachable moments. At least I tried. I won’t ever have to look back and wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t.

First and foremost, I started a new job this week! YEAH! This leads me to the first amazing moment(s) this week.

So, day one of my new job- where are the bathrooms? I’m told they are down the hall. So down the hall I go and I see the tried and true  on the wall next to the door. Anticipating the standard single stall toilet associated with said sign, I walked in and was surprised to see two fully enclosed stalls with doors and one sink. WHAT?! Do my eyes forsake me? Did I just walk into a utopia? Is there a unicorn in one of those stalls? I casually ask about the bathroom on break to one of my new coworkers : So, I noticed that the bathroom on our floor is gender neutral… Yep, says my new co-worker. All staff bathrooms on all three floors are that way. Some people are a little uncomfortable about it, but you get used to it.

You get used to it…   mind blown!

My heart is singing HALLELUJAH! My desire to help write a public policy making single stall bathrooms into gender neutral spaces is not only an achievable goal but here is in practice the concept of gender neutral bathrooms. It can be done successfully.

Later that day, I am asked to introduce myself and tell everyone something unique about myself to a room of about forty new co-workers– Hi, my youngest child is transgender. 

The next day– a supervisor approached me, “Do you really have a transgender child?” Yes! She’s 7 “You know, we’ve been getting more clients who are transgender and personally, I would like to know more about how to be sensitive and respectful to these clients– maybe this spring, would you be interested in doing a training class? I don’t want to put you on the spot or anything.” That sounds like an amazing idea! I’d be happy to. I’m actually an advocate in the community. You know a real quick take away– when you are meeting with a client start by asking them their prefered pronouns and what gender they identify as instead of just assuming visually. (we are doing social service stuff so gender comes up all the time) “You mean you can just ask? That’s not offensive?” Nope, it’s actually respectful. If you get into the habit of asking everyone, you won’t feel weird. People who aren’t transgender will look at you a little funny, but when you have a trans or genderqueer client they will feel empowered. Remember, sometimes their documentation will not always lineup with how they visually present. “Wow, I’ll have to try to incorporate that; huh, just ask what is your prefered pronoun and gender; that’s an easy question.”

WOW–   You’re right, it really is that easy. I was so impressed with the way that conversation went. If I hadn’t shared that I’m raising a trans child to that room of forty people, that conversation wouldn’t have occurred. I was unknowingly creating a teachable moment. A supervisor none the less! They have the authority to ask the staff they oversee to do the same thing, causing a ripple effect.

Today was the another one of those amazing moments. I had a teacher come up to me today at the kid’s school and asked me if I would be willing to talk to a parent and help them with some support and networking. She said that she felt confident that I would be the perfect resource in the school’s community to start a dialog with this parent. I guess the parent heard about Rachel and the advocacy work I’ve been doing and has been trying to connect with me. Being protective of my confidentiality, the school couldn’t give the parent my phone number (even though they did ask) so the parent tried asking the school to give me theirs’. Which is what initiated the conversation– would I be okay with talking to this parent?

The parent in question has an older elementary aged child who has consistently, persistently and insistently been questioning their gender identity for some time now. The parent is scared and confused but wants to support their child and wants to know what to do.

YES!!! ABSOLUTELY!!! Please tell them I’d love to talk to them!!!

I will admit that when Rachel first came out I was scared too about what the future looked like. I was confused too on what it was my child was saying. It’s actually a little ironic that I am now raising a trans child. Looking back at my friends I had in high school; especially the guys, I would say that about 90% of them identify as LGB as adults. I’ve always considered myself an ally of the LGBT community; even as a teenager. Where they irony comes into play is I had no clue what T stood for, I’d never knowingly known a trans person yet here I am raising a trans child. I went from being just an ally to something so much more.

When your child is questioning their gender and or sexuality it is perfectly natural to be scared and confused. The cornerstone for trans youth is consistent, persistent and insistent.

Transgender children typically consistently, persistently, and insistently express a cross-gender identity and feel that their gender is different from their assigned sex. They may begin talking about their gender as soon as they begin to speak and some may express dissatisfaction with their genitals. Transgender children are more likely to experience gender dysphoria (i.e., discomfort related to their bodies not matching their internal sense of gender) then gender diverse children, although some transgender children are comfortable with their bodies. Transgender children may state that they are really the other gender, or that someone (e.g., the doctor or a religious authority) made a mistake in their gender assignment.

Whether a child is transgender or gender diverse may not be readily apparent. Transgender and gender diverse children may exhibit similar preferences, may both desire to have another gender than the one they were assigned and may draw themselves as another gender in self portraits.

A consistent, persistent and insistent sense of being the other gender and some degree of gender dysphoria are unique characteristics of transgender children. Although there is more recent awareness of gender diverse and transgender children in our society today, these children are not part of a “new” phenomenon. Cross-gender behavior has existed throughout history in every continent and within a wide range of cultures for thousands of years.

Gender Diversity and Transgender Identity in Children Fact Sheet

The dangers of identifying as trans due to social bias, stigma and transphobia

I am the champion of my child, like every parent is. The difference between my family and others is I have a child who is trans. I came forward with our story not for recognition, but to inspire others. The more we talk about our story, our struggle, the more normal coming out as trans will become. This in turn will change the statistics that are plaguing our community.  I understand what parents of trans children go through. We are often not welcome in trans exclusive spaces because we make trans people feel unsafe, yet we are not welcome in non-trans exclusive spaces either; unless we turn our backs on our own identities. Parents of trans children have an identity. I say our community because we are not only allies of the trans community, we are being charged with the greatest honor– raising the next leaders of our community. As parent of a trans children, we have the privilege of having a foot in both the trans and the non-trans community. We can be utilized as a bridge to help make changes for the entire community; not just our children.

Every time I hear of a trans person be it child or adult who has to live in stealth, it breaks my heart. The stigma of identifying as trans is what makes transgender people the most marginalized minority. I have been questioned on this statement many times. Let’s look at the statistics and I will let you decide for yourself:

My figures were taken from http://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/resources/NTDS_Report.pdf if you want to read the full study.

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According to Injustice at Every Turn. they found that transgender people were unemployed at twice the rate of the general population, or roughly between 10 percent and 14 percent throughout 2008, the year the survey was conducted. Based on a National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report, 63% of participants experienced serious acts of discrimination—events that would have a major impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to sustain themselves financially or emotionally. Almost a quarter 23% of the respondents experienced a catastrophic level of discrimination, impacting and creating major life-disrupting events due to bias. 90% of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it. 47% said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming. Over 26% reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming. Due to this, 71% reported having to hide their gender or gender transition and 57% reported delaying their gender transition due to fear of job loss or harassment.

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The percentage of transgender people who have attempted suicide. Disheartening research from the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey reveals that 2,644 out of 6,450 had attempted, at some point, to take their own lives. Sexual assault was the biggest cause, followed by physical assault, harassment in school, and job loss due to bias. As the parent of a transgender child, we face discrimination and potential discrimination for having a trans child. Both my husband and myself have first-hand knowledge of this.

The percentage of transgender people who experienced violence or abuse from a family member. In a massive joint report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, released in 2011, 19% of respondents said they had suffered domestic abuse because of their gender nonconformity. With male-to-females being more likely to experience family violence than female-to-males are.

Coming out can be dangerous in today’s climate. Let us look beyond the family for a moment. For adults and children old enough to date, coming out can be very dangerous. With many states still having a gay defense theory as a legal argument, you are potentially putting your own life at risk. “I was afraid for my life, I was afraid they would rape me, so I killed them in self-defense”

The percentage of students in the K-12 school system who reported harassment from students and/or staff members; including those in administration. 35% of students reported being physically assaulted, 12% reported being sexually assaulted, and nearly one-sixth of respondents reported having to leave a school in K-12 settings or in higher education due directly to violence.

You’ve read my story. This number is very scary and VERY TRUE. Rachel was harassed by staff and administration for two years at our elementary school.

The percentage of people who reported having been refused a home or apartment and 11% reported being evicted because of their gender identity/expression.

The percentage of people who reported experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives because they were transgender or gender non-conforming. 55% of the people who attempted to access homeless shelters were harassed by shelter staff or residents. 29% were turned away altogether, and 22% were sexually assaulted by residents or staff.

The percentage of people who reported being verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies. Respondents experienced widespread abuse in the public sector, and were often abused at the hands of “helping” professionals and government officials. 22% were denied equal treatment by a government agency or official; 29% reported police harassment or disrespect; and 12% had been denied equal treatment or harassed by judges or court officials.

When approximately 0.2% and 0.3% of the United States adult population identifies as transgender and the devastating percentage of widespread abuse and harassment that is occurring is why I can justify saying that transgender people are the most marginalized population here in the United States.

Coming out as transgender should be viewed as normal as coming out as democratic. There shouldn’t be inherent risk involved in coming out as trans.

Validation

Raising a transgender child isn’t something anyone is prepared for. No one knows for certain how many people in the U.S. are transgender, although one conservative estimate is nearly 700,000 Americans. With no effort, parents of heterosexual children can find validation. When you are raising a transgender child you are constantly looking for that validation. You spend hours, pouring over other families stories. You search for proof you’re making the right decisions. You are looking for that validation not only for your child but for yourself as well. It doesn’t just affect the child who identifies as transgender, it affects your entire family existence.

Why is validation so important?

The choice to support your child should be a no-brainer. Astonishingly, this is not the case. Too often, children who are transgender do not get the support they need. They are forced to live a life of shame and secrecy. This too often leads to suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and self harm. With celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox coming out and using their stardom to help gain support for the transgender community, it is helping those who are choosing to transition later in life. BUT, there still remains a strong resistance to transgender children. Many people are still much less comfortable with transgender children than they are with adults. The reason behind this is most of society gets sexuality confused with gender identity, and they feel that kids are too young to make these life-changing decisions. Comparing sexuality to gender identity is like comparing a potato to a puppy. One has nothing to do with another. Children who do not identify as heteronormative need validation. They need to see that there are others just like them, and that it is okay to be different from what is perceived to be normal. Heterosexual children have a plethora of role models and validation of their heteronormativity. For transgender children, this is significantly harder to do. This is why community support is so vital.

Right now, our favorite television shows are the Fosters, Becoming Us and I am Jazz.

I am Jazz on TLC is about Jazz Jennings. Jazz is transgender and a role model for Rachel. She can see a normal family, doing normal things. This normal family, is just like her normal family.

Becoming Us is about a teenage boy whose father transitions into Carly.

The Foster’s on ABC family is in itself AMAZING! They are the first prime time television show to portray a transgender character played by a transgender actor.

Rachel’s favorite books are:

A Girl Like Any Other by Sophie Labelle

I am Jazz- by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings

My princess boy – Cheryl Kilodavis 

Parents need validation too. For myself and my husband it was to counter the toxicity that was plaguing our daily choices. When raising a transgender child, you quickly find out who your true friends and family really are. Three years after transition it gets easier (I have to convince myself ) to ignore the bigotry and transphobia, but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t hurt. When Rachel first came out however, we lost the majority of our friends and family. It wasn’t like one fell swoop either. Sometimes it was quick and painful, but it was also often slow and subtle. I think, if it had been fast, it wouldn’t have hurt so bad. I could go on for hours with examples, but I’ll give you my top six.

  1. At one point, we were accused of raising Rachel to be gay so we could be treated special…. She’s transgender; not gay (that I know of). Like I know what Rachel’s sexual orientation will be, I don’t know who she’ll be attracted to when she gets older.
  2. We’ve been accused of wanting another girl so bad we’ve forced Rachel to live as one, to fulfill our own selfish desires.
  3. While hosting a birthday party a bunch of kids were playing at my house and one mom was hovering; more so than normal– I looked at that mom and jokingly whispered you know, it’s not contagious. Your son isn’t going to come down with gay by playing with Rachel… At that moment it was an awkward laugh; but since then there’s always been an excuse as to why they couldn’t come to birthday parties or get-together’s anymore. THIS IS A BIG ONE– friends and family stop calling us. No more birthday invitations, no more party invites; for the kids or for us. Before we realized it, we were essentially isolated.
  4. She’s too young to understand. No one questions a cis boy or girl when they says they’re a boy or a girl. Why must you question my trans child? A child knows inherently if they are a boy or a girl by the age of two or three. It is only when a dichotomy occurs do people question the validity of a child’s statement; I am a girl/boy.
  5. When you do meet new people; do you out yourself right away and play the dice that they are accepting or do you not out yourself and risk being hurt when they reject you once they do find out you have a trans child. This is risky– no one really likes an over-sharer.
  6. Of course my favorite If your kid wanted to be a dog; does that mean you’d go out and buy them a dog dish and a collar?

But it’s still more than that. Where I used to work; I was told I couldn’t talk about Rachel at work, they knew Rachel before she transitioned. So I was told It wasn’t professional. I could talk about all of my other kids, but I couldn’t talk about Rachel. My husband is afraid to talk about having a transgender child, he’s afraid of losing his job. He’s not comfortable talking about this in public. It is something to worry about. In Washington it is a fire at will state. I can lose my job for talking about my child, if I am working with someone who is transphobic, I cannot talk about my child. Yeah, I know– so just don’t mention she’s trans. That’s easier said then done. My car is literally an advertisement for the LGBT; covered in rainbow stickers, I am on two different LGBT non-profit boards, I am an advocate and activist in the LGBT community, rainbows and unicorns come out of my mouth when I open it half the time. So, can I say it is unprofessional when you force me to listen to the christian radio channel all day at work? Can I tell you it is unprofessional when you talk about politics? No, you can talk about what you want. I have to censor myself, because you are uncomfortable.

It’s hard on the other kids too. For example, Faith has this friend who she’s known since she was in preschool. They used to be joined at the hip; until Rachel came out as trans. This same friend has a little sister the same age as Rachel, her younger daughter was going to be in the same kindergarten class as Rachel. At first I was thinking– perfect! All four girls can hang out, we can have this close family friendship. Yeah no. As soon as they found out that Rachel was trans, they had their daughter removed from Rachel’s kindergarten class and transferred to a different one. Soon it was well, Faith can come over, but it’s too much to have Rachel too. So I’d suggest swapping kids. You take the older ones, I’ll take the younger ones…. “well you know, she hasn’t been feeling real well, maybe when she’s not sick…” that was three years ago. I guess she must be really sick. If you can’t accept the family as a unit, you can’t pick and choose. So now, Faith lost a close friend.

It’s also about overcompensation. When Faith and Koda get to spend the night over and over again with their grandma but Rachel keeps getting skipped, it’s hard to ignore. Before Rachel came out, she’d have panic attacks and didn’t want to go to grandmas. After she came out she was scared to go alone. We try to limit how often Faith and Koda do go, but that creates animosity. So, we have to overcompensate. If Koda and Faith get to go over to grandma’s, then Rachel gets a new toy or something to counterbalance the inequality. Do I hate this? Hell yeah, but how do you counterbalance inequality?

Finally, once you do meet someone who is trans or has a family member who is, you cling to them. They become your buoy. An anchor in the storm. Finally, someone who gets it, someone who understands.

Then you end up looking like a psycho.

A change in the air?

In July, Trey asked us 2014-09-26 08.19.13(her dad and myself) if we could please call her Rachel at home, all the time. She was ready to move forward. She asked us if her middle name could be Lynn. We already have five people with that name! Dad and I came up with a list of middle names we could compromise with and let her choose. After some deliberation, she came up with Rachel Marie.

We’ve spent the summer working on being affirming and using Rachel. I won’t lie, it was hard at first. For the last seven years, we’ve only known her as Trey. There were a lot of screw-ups and a number of awkward moments. I still trip over it, but every day it gets easier.

As the end of August approached, I went to the elementary school to turn in all the required paperwork needed before school starts. The secretary’s face lit up!

Oh-oh-oh! We have a new principal! He is amazing, you have to meet him! Hang on, let me get him.

WHAT!? Are you serious!

While waiting for him to come back to the office, the secretary tells me that he used to teach in Hawaii and that he seems to be really (shall we say liberal). She tells me that I am really going to like him; with a twinkle in her eye.

We head into his office and he introduces himself. “For this year I am going to be co-principal. If plans continue as predicted, I will be taking over as principal next year.” (Let me tell you, my heart grew three sizes with this news.)

So, I am going to just ask– how familiar are you with the LGBT community?

“Quite a bit, actually. In my last post, I worked with a number of kids, why?”

Well, my youngest child is transgender and my oldest child in this school came out as queer at the end of last year’s school year.

“That is great! How old is your trans child? When did she come out? Is she out socially?”

Trey transitioned to Rachel this summer. She uses female pronouns. Rachel will be going into the 2nd grade this year. She actually came out the second day of kindergarten. We are out, socially. I’ll be real honest with you, the last two years have been a struggle here at the school. There is a lot of animosity between your co-worker and myself. The school has been really transphobic, it’s been a struggle.

 I then told him all about what has happened over the last two years. Including an incident, that happened at the end of the year.

Six girls were chasing a boy from their class around the playground and he asked them to stop, but the girls didn’t. I got a phone call alerting me to the incident. The problem was, the principal told me “the girls involved are all getting detention, but I want to talk to you about the potentially sexually deviant behavior Trey was engaging in. I am very concerned about Trey’s behavior. I mean that boy was terrified. He was curled up in a ball crying because of what Trey did.” Um, didn’t you say there were five other girls involved in this? “Yeah, but, well, girls this age behave this way. We have policies in place to prevent it, but this is pretty age appropriate stuff” So, it’s not okay for Trey to act in an age appropriate way? “Well, with Trey being transgender, I am concerned about how Trey is going to act as Trey gets older. This kind of behavior is sometimes indicative of a sexual deviant pattern. I am worried about the safety of the other students.” ARE YOU MAD?! ARE YOU SERIOUS? DID YOU REALLY JUST SAY THIS? A six-year-old girl acts like a six-year-old girl and you chalk it up to age appropriate behavior, but when my kid acts in an age appropriate manner you call the behavior potentially sexually deviant?

Anyway, I go on to explain to him I was worried about who Rachel’s teacher was going to be.

“So, if I am hearing you right, you want to have a meeting with her teacher before school starts? We have a new counselor as well this year, do you want to meet her too?”

Uh.. you mean I can meet her and talk to her, make sure she is affirming?

“Yeah, that is a completely reasonable request. It makes sense. If I was in your shoes, I’d want to do the same thing.”

Well, I have this packet that goes over best practices, definitions, and statistics. I give it to the teacher at the start of the year. It also has some community resources.

“That’s amazing. Since I am new to this area, I am unaware of what those resources are, can I get a copy of this packet? What I’m going to do is connect with both Rachel’s teacher and the new counselor and find out when they can meet with us. How does your schedule look Friday? I’ll give you a call as soon as I can get the meeting scheduled. Give me a couple of days, okay?”

Uh, yeah that sounds wonderful. Friday is completely open for me.

As I was leaving his office, the secretary gave me a huge smile– “See, I told you you’d like him!”

Before I could get out the the building, a teacher I have known for eight years (She was my other daughter’s 2nd-grade teacher four years ago) came up and gave me a big hug and whispered into my ear; “we’re going to be together again this year.” She then asked me; “How does Rachel spell her name? Does she have a different middle name now? When I get back to the classroom, I am going to whiteout everything that has Trey’s name on it. Rachel’s desk, closet, and her school supplies will have Rachel on it. I’m also going to talk to my mom since she is my only volunteer I use in my classroom and make sure she is up to speed.”

I swear my heart swelled three sizes at morning! I head back to the house excited for this meeting. I update the packet and change some of the languages.

TWO HOURS LATER, the new principal called me to schedule the meeting for 9 am, Friday.

Armed with my packets, I head to the school. I joke with the teacher to break the ice and tell the new principal we have a history, we have a great professional rapport. I then introduce myself to the counselor.

Good morning, thank you for meeting with me. What do you know about the LGBT community?

“A bunch! I’ve worked with LGBT youth for a while now, before coming to this school.”

Well, my second grader is transgender and my sixth grader came out as queer about two months ago. I have a packet for you, the teacher and the principal. It gives you resources in the community, some definitions, and some statistics

“Oh, excellent! I look forward to reading it. You know, (looking at the principal) with all the new staff that came on this year, I think it would be great to get a refresher training class for the teachers who had it last year and full training for the new staff.”

I think that would be a great idea! Can the support staff be included in this? I don’t think they had training last year and some of the problems we’ve had have been with support staff”

Principal “I think that is a great idea. We’ll make sure that you’re not outed so your kids won’t be specifically named, but I think it would be good to get training for the staff. This is going to keep coming up, I’d like to see training so we’re not scrambling in the future.”

HALLELUJAH!

This is how a school should respond. This is what best practices should look like. I am so excited for this year, and the prospect that the (evil principal) administrator we have been having so many problems with, even before Rachel came out will be gone next year. There is a light at the end of our tunnel. For the first time, I can send my children to school and know that they are being supported, like they should. Free from judgement.

I am going to make a second page on this post and paste the packet I’ve spent so much time talking about. If you do use my work, please give me due credit. Some of the language in this packet is straight out of my graduate thesis, I spent two years working on.

Victory Blindness

Today I came across an article that really resonated with the difficulties that comes up as an advocate. In this magazine, LGBT activist Michelangelo Signorile was being interviewed. According to Michelangelo, victory blindness describes the phenomenon in which we focus on the wins, so starved for validation, that we allow them to blind us to the continued bigotry we face.

How is this relevant?

Let’s start by talking about the national win for same-sex marriage. After a long battle, gay men and women now have the constitutional right to marry the person they love. (YEAH!!!) Every day, more and more benefits that heterosexual couples have are being granted to same-sex couples. (YEAH!!!) But here is the problem, this new ruling covers only the rights of sexual orientation. In many states, we only won the right to be married on Friday, only to be fired on Monday. Most states ONLY protect sexual identity; not gender.

There is no federal law that specifically outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the private sector. At the state level, almost half the states and the District of Columbia have laws that currently prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in both public and private jobs.

Current U.S. LGBT employment discrimination laws.

  Sexual orientation and gender identity: all employment
  Sexual orientation with anti–employment discrimination ordinance and gender identity solely in public employment
  Sexual orientation: all employment
  Sexual orientation and gender identity: state employment
  Sexual orientation: state employment
  No state-level protection for LGBT employees
Let's have a history lesson

Back in the 1960s, the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood was the one of the few bars in Manhattan where people of the same-sex could dance with each other without police harassment, which was only protected through alleged Mafia ties.

History has a way of being whitewashed. History is told by the victors. Stonewall is no different. Recounts of Stonewall discuss how noble gays and lesbians fought that night. There is often little to no recount of the transgender presence, Even queer history is ciswashed. Furthermore, Stonewall is white ciswashed.

Stonewall is the result of actions of two transgender women of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Marsha who threw her shoe at an officer and Sylvia who threw the first bottle. (I’m not even going to get into the movie that is coming out about Stonewall at this point. Let’s leave it as another whitewashed hollywood butchered attempt at history)

Back to our history lesson

Gay pride began on June 28th, 1969, when the patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York fought back against what had become regular, tolerated, city sanctioned harassment by the police department.

In 1969 Police raids on gay bars occurred regularly. Back then, it was illegal to serve Gay people alcohol or for Gays to dance with one another. During a typical raid, the lights were turned on, the customers were lined up and their identification checked. Those without identification or who were dressed in full drag were arrested. Laws required an individual to have at least three articles of clothing on them that were according to their birth gender.

Early Saturday morning, eight police officers arrived at the Stonewall Inn. Approximately 200 people were in the bar that night. But the raid did not go as planned. This time the patrons refused to cooperate. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station. Instead of leaving like usual, those who were not arrested started gathering outside. Those who were being arrested were forced to wait because the patty wagons had not yet arrived. The police arrested the drag queens and the most flamboyant men and butch women not following the three article of clothing law. As the police were dragging Marsha out, her heel broke on her shoe. Taking her shoe off, she repeatedly asked the police to not to push her. Yet they continued to push her out of the bar. At this point there are some discrepancies in the story. Some say she turned around and mashed the cop with her high heel, other’s say she threw her shoe. Either way, that was the breaking point; Sylvia Rivera who was in the crowd outside the bar threw a bottle and all hell broke loose.

What does this have to do with victory blindness?

There is a disconnect. If even our history is being ciswashed, how can we move forward? Just because we have won the right to marry does not mean we become placated. Just because it is now more acceptable for gays and lesbians to have a visual presence in society does not mean that it is safe for transgender people to come out.

What does our history lesson have to do with victory blindness? It means there is still a HUGE fight to be had.

In 2015 so far, TWENTY transgender women have been MURDERED IN THE UNITED STATES, most of whom were women of color.

In 2015 so far, FIFTEEN transgender youth have committed suicide in the United States.

These are only that we know of. Often times, the media, police and families misgender the victims which not only skews data, but it makes it difficult to track accurate statistics.

Now, I don’t identify as transgender but my daughter does. But this matters to me. I want to know that my daughter is going to grow up in a world where she is safe. When I hear about a transgender women being murdered or a transgender youth committing suicide it scares me! That could be MY child you are hearing about.

She is 7 years old and I have already had to talk to her about how to be safe in a public dressing room like the YMCA. I’ve had to explain to her how to find a closed dressing stall and lock it, to change. I’ve already had to teach her how to get dressed in such a location and not get her cloths wet. I’ve had to teach her that if a locked changing room is not available, to change in a toilet stall. I’ve had to teach my daughter how to be safe in public bathrooms; told her to always have someone with her. I’ve had to talk to her about dating and how to safely out herself.

To be fair to the YMCA, here in Spokane, they recently changed their signage on their family locker rooms to read all gender. But lets look at what happened the last time we were there and waiting for an all gender locker room. There are three all gender locker rooms in a line. As I am waiting with my friend, her four kids and two of mine (party of 8 mixed gender three under 5) a women on the end opens up her door and her and her two girls come out at the same time the woman’s husband and his one boy come out of the third one. WHY? Why didn’t the dad take his son and the mom take her girls into the respective gender specific locker rooms to change? We finally won gender neutral space at the YMCA to have it taken by a privileged cis-family. Same thing happened when we tried to leave. The gender neutral space was being taken by privilege cis-families and we were forced into the gender specific locker room. There my friend had to change her four kids (two boys and two girls; three under 5) in the toilet stall, my son had to change in his own toilet stall and Rachel and I had to change in the wet single stall changing space; together.

Why the hell do I need to have these conversations with a SEVEN year old? Victory blindness. Too many people think that now we have won the right to marry, the fight is done. The example of what happened at the YMCA is why I must have these conversations with my child.

What our community needs is more people to stand up and say ENOUGH!

And the battling begins

(I forgot to mention earlier that after the whole bathroom incident last year, I called down to the school district and strongly requested that the principle no longer have contact with my family. I asked to ONLY have interactions with the vice principal (principal assistant). Our request was granted as best as they could.)

As our kindergarten year was winding down, the principal caught me in the office one day; with a fake sugar sweet smile on her face.

I’ve got training scheduled for the school, but I’ve gotta tell you, I really think that you are over reacting on this.  I mean who are you kidding? Trey is so young I really think we won’t have to ever deal with this again.”

Okay, so how do you respond to this? Is it appropriate to reach across the counter and slap her? *SIGH* bail would be expensive…

Fortunately, I am have spent the last eight months working on a brain child thesis for grad school. I was able to wow her with my research: (who am I fooling, I’d get better results talking to a brick wall but I wasn’t going to walk away from this comment)

According to research, conservatively, one in five hundred children are significantly gender variant or transgender. That means, statistically, there are at least three other students IN THIS SCHOOL that are gender variant. That’s just YOUR school. Now, times that by the thirty-five elementary schools in just this district and you’re looking at least one hundred ELEMENTARY students.

Discussing Princess Boys and Pregnant Men: Teaching About Gender Diversity and Transgender Experiences Within an Elementary School Curriculum

(rolling eyes) “I think your numbers are inflated”

NO, actually, those number are conservative. My guess, double it.

But here’s the funny thing, the fact I didn’t share with the principal that day– she is a big fat liar! I already knew that training wasn’t scheduled. I already knew that she in fact was not returning phone calls in regards to scheduling training. I already knew that training wasn’t her idea.

Before I left that day I asked if I could PLEASE request our 1st grade teacher. I want to be able to have a conversation with the teacher before class starts, I want to make sure that the teacher is going to be affirming; PLEASE?

“Call us in August and we can arrange that”

My epiphany moment

The old saying, out of the mouth of babes couldn’t be more true!

With the summer line coming out, Trey and I were standing in the girls department looking at getting her a new outfit. For the last six months, I have refused to take Trey cloths shopping. I still had full compromising control over what she wore. I was okay with the girls tops, I was okay with the girls shoes, I was okay with the glittery cloths, I was okay with capris.10177345_10203030871605680_480894402457553174_n I am trying in vain to encourage her to accept my choice of a pair of capris and a cute tank top. Trey on the other hand is hell-bent on choosing a dress. As I’m sure many of you have dealt with before (or you will, trust me!), a scene soon ensues. With my child nearing hysterics I start to walk away. What happened next is my aha moment, my epiphany, my culmination to being a supportive parent.

“IF MY SISTER’S CAN WEAR A DRESS BECAUSE THEY ARE A GIRL, WHY CAN’T I? I AM A TRANS GIRL, I AM A GIRL TOO…”

If Trey had reached out and slapped me, it would not have been as effective as that simple temper tantrum induced sentence. Why was I saying no to the ridiculously cheesy dress? Would I let Trey’s sister’s wear it? (Okay so it’s not their style) Yeah, I would if they asked for it. So, WHY am I saying no to Trey? OH, I get it. I am saying no because I am uncomfortable with seeing Trey in  dress or a skirt. I am uncomfortable about what others will say when they see her in it. I am uncomfortable about what my family is going to say when they see her in it. OY VEY I am the worst parent in the world. I have been compromising with myself, not my child. I have been making decisions I could control the outcome of. I was saying no, because it made me uncomfortable to say yes. I cannot say no to my child because it makes me uncomfortable. I was no better than the school. I was saying it’s okay for my other daughters, but it’s not okay for Trey. I was saying separate but equal was okay; and it’s not. Not for the school, not for me.

Okay, so I didn’t say yes to that dress she so desperately wanted (it really was a ridiculous dress), but she did get to pick out a skirt and the tank top I was trying to get her to choose. That is what you would call the crack that broke the dam. But you know, to see the genuine smile on her face, it made that moment of uncomfortableness worth it.688