Remember Your Power: A Statement from Transgender Youth

national-truth-councilx750

So, this commentary ran on November 20th in The Advocate (Link is HERE).  I thought it was worth sharing here as these young people are paving the way for the next generation of children like Fab.  If we are lucky and Trump is a one term and done president then Fab will turn 11 in the final year of a Trump presidency.  It will be around that time she will need to seek medical interventions, and shortly after she will enter the tween and then teen world.

These young people show themselves to be intelligent, fierce, and strong.  They hold their heads high, and refuse to bow down to the last gasps of a bigoted, misogynistic, and racist red America.  They give me hope for Fab’s future.  As parents, we fight for our kids and as they begin to get older they also find their voices and join us in the trenches.  It seems to me that these young people have found their voices, and refuse to be silenced.  These young people should give all of us hope for the future of our children and of our country.

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The Trans List

trans-list

For those interested, The Trans List debuts on Monday, December 5th.  Most reviews have been positive, giving it a thumbs up for the candor with which those profiled speak.  While not specifically about Transgender kids, it gives great insight into road paved before our kids.  I intend to preview to see if it is something Fab can watch, although she might be too young.  For older kids I think this might be a great watch, or something to share with “On the Fence” family members.

About a Girl

georgie-stoneFor today’s post I’m gonna take it to Australia.  Australia is the only country in the world that requires children to obtain court permission before going on blockers and hormones.  Currently, there is a brave 16 year old transgender girl, Georgia Stone, who is fighting to get this law changed so that children are not waiting on the courts to get the treatment they need not only for their physical health, but their mental health as well.  I took some time to watch a half hour documentary on her this morning (embedded below), and thought it was excellent.  Her parents took many home videos so you can watch her transition from young child to young woman.  In addition, as a dad, it is great to see her father so passionate and active in seeing that she gets what she needs to be happy.  He features prominently throughout the piece.  For anyone that might wonder what blockers and hormones will do, or for those who have family members with questions this is a great piece to share where people can visually see the importance of such treatments for kids like Georgie, my Fab, or any other child who has that need to see their bodies fully match who they are on the inside.  I think she is an amazing young lady.   I hope you enjoy!

 

A Thankful Thanksgiving

lgbt-thanksgivingAs I sit here watching football with my grandfather, father, and brother I am reminded just how lucky my family is, and how thankful I am for the supportive family around Fab.  She has been living proud and out for less than a month, and there is not a member of my family who isn’t proud of her and the courage she has shown to be her authentic self.

There are many transgender people, both young and old, who are not so lucky, and will be spending today alone because their families are incapable of seeing them for the beautiful people they are on the inside.  This not only makes me sad, but also drives home all that we have to  be thankful for as a family.  In future years, I have thought it might be nice to invite one of these people into our home for Thanksgiving, because nobody should have to be alone on a day like today.  This year, however, we are spending it away from home with family for the first time in six years.

I thought I would share five things Fab and I are thankful for this year:

  1. My children have gone another year happy and healthy.
  2. The love and support of my family which allows me to get through anything.
  3. Fab finally found her voice, and as a result I got to meet my daughter.
  4. My wife, my partner in crime.  Together, nothing is impossible.
  5. New friends I have made that have helped me to understand Fab better and my role as her daddy.

Five things Fab is thankful for:

  1. Her teacher who loves her and teaches her things.
  2. Her mom and dad who she can tell anything and who keep her safe.
  3. Her dogs that snuggle with her and give her kisses.
  4. Her friends that like her for her.
  5. That she gets to finally wear pretty dresses.

I know her her list isn’t long or deep of thought, but she is only seven, and it comes directly from her.

For now, we both just want to say to everyone out there…Happy Thanksgiving from us to you.  We both look forward to the next year and what it has to bring.

WTF?!? “Mom Sues Transgender Daughter?”

momsues

Washington Post Article Here

Every once in a while I see an article I have to comment on, and this is one of those.  I could have cited the Breitbart story, but that just gets me even angrier as that bigoted site ran with the headline, “Mom Sues When Agencies Secretly Give Transgender Hormones to her Son.”  According to the Post, the mom, Anmarie Calgaro, is suing her 17 year old daughter to stop her from being able to receive hormone therapy.  The mother feels that she would like her daughter to wait until she is more mature to make these decisions, or to quote her, “I just want him to slow down.”

Now, I refer to the child as her daughter, because I don’t care how the mother identifies her child. If the child identifies female, then I will do her the respect of also referring to her as such.  In addition, it seems to me that this ignorant, bigoted woman is being used, while at the same time dragging her daughter into it for a right-wing agenda to challenge consent laws regarding abortion, but let’s unpack this one.

Child runs away, and six months go by without the mother filing a missing person’s report with the police…that right there says it all.  Taking it a step further, a judge grants the daughter emancipation, further suggesting what a “bad” parent the mother is.  I’ve dealt with family courts before, and I can say for certain that judges do not terminate parental rights without cause.  Once rights were terminated (and this also means the mother ignored a notification to appear or to contest the  termination of rights), only then did the daughter begin hormone therapy, and only after a year did the mother finally bring suit with the help of the kind folks at the Thomas More Society (anti-abortion) and the Minnesota Child Protection League (anti-transgender), because as she stated, “Not only was I robbed of the opportunity to help my son make good decisions,but I also feel he was robbed of a key advocate in his life, his mother.”

So, let me get this straight…she has no problem with her daughter transitioning, but wants her to stop hormone therapy, and to wait until older, because at 17, less than a year away from the age of consent is too young?  Her assertion is that maybe if she had been involved her daughter might have made the better decision to stay a boy?  Obviously, this woman has no understanding of what it is to be transgender (newsflash, you never had a son), lacks a complete understanding of gender identity, and seems to think suing her daughter to prevent the child from doing what she wants will in some way bring them back together again?

It seems to me that this is an end-around by the Thomas More society on Minnesota consent laws that currently allow a young woman to get an abortion without parental consent, because after all if it was against the law then it would stop teen girls from seeking a secret abortion?  History is why we have Roe vs Wade, and why abortions are legal.  Legal means safe care.  Anti-abortion advocates seem to forget this fact.  We have only to look at drug laws to see that laws do not stop people from choosing risky behavior, and for teens, a fear of parents often can force risky behavior.

As for the daughter, who is not named and has not gone on the record, well, she has nothing but my support and respect.  How brave she had to be to run away from a home that refused to let her live her own truth, and how smart of her to seek help to make her outer truth match her inner one.  Many transgender teens would turn to drugs, depression, and sadly to suicide if forced to deny their own truth, but this young lady found a way out, and now her mother, as a political pawn, seeks to pull her back.

Thankfully, the courts have refused the mother’s motion that all therapies must stop until after the case is decided, which also means that in all likelihood the young lady will be 18 by the time the case is settled, and will be 100% free to live her life on her terms.

As parents it is our job to see to it that our children grow up to be  productive, independent, and happy adults.

In Fab’s case,  she has her own life to live, and I’m living my own.  She has her own story to write, and does not need me to write it for her.  I hope that she might let me be a part of that story, but I have my own, and that is how it should be.  I’m excited to see the story she writes, and I’m sure I’ll love it as much as I love her.  I’ll never stop worrying about her, but my worries aren’t about who she wants to be, but rather will she be safe as she travels the path to where she wants to go.

Let your children write their own stories, and find their own truths.  It might not be what you would pick for them, but you aren’t them, and what makes you happy doesn’t have to make them happy.  It sounds to me like this young lady is an amazing person, and so while  the mother makes me angry, it is an anger tinged with sadness that she has chosen to, and may never get to know her daughter.  She may miss out on so much because of her inability to let go and to see her daughter for the real person she is.

 

 

 

Getting a Passport and Changing Social Security

passport-on-a-map

Short post for the day.  I wanted to put this on the blog so that it is easy for me or others to retrieve necessary links and information needed to make sure we can secure passports for our children in the most expedient manner possible.

I know many of us are concerned that the day or week President Trump assumes office (yes, my hand just cramped typing that, and I threw-up a little in my mouth) he will revoke the Obama administration’s guidance for the issuance of passports.  If we can manage to get one now, and get it for at least five years then maybe there is  good chance…he will be gone before a renewal is needed.

Anyways here are the links for the information we should need to get a passport or change the gender marker with Social Security for our children to the correct gender marker:

Passport

US Department of State Gender Designation Change Passport Page

The page above has information and links for what is required to ensure the appropriate gender marker for transgender persons.  For minors passports can be issued for 5 years, and parental consent is required for issuance.

Passport Medical Certification Sample Letters

The link above will download sample language from a link also embedded on the above State Department page.  I have included this here, but actually would recommend the letter linked below in the Social Security section.  It seems to combine the best elements of both letters.  As for the link above, from my research I would recommend the language from the example at the top of the page.  “Clinical Treatment” could be whatever is deemed appropriate for your child’s age.  Mine is seven, so obviously surgery, etc. are not appropriate interventions/treatment.   An attorney friend of mine suggested that of these two examples the second one is more likely to get a 2 year provisional, or have it thrown back to you as it says “in the process” meaning it has not been completed and so the State Department may want to see if in two years it “the process” has been completed.

Finally,  don’t wait for the name change.  You don’t have to have it to get an appropriate gender marker on a passport.  Once a passport is issued you have up to a year to amend it for a name change.  As long as this is done within a year, the cost for the name change on the passport is free.  For peace of mind, go ahead and get it done.  Get it out of the way.

More excellent information on passports can be found here:

National Center for Transgender Equality, Passports

Social Security

Social Security is much easier than changing the gender marker on a passport.  While you can wait until you have a passport and use that as proof.  According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, you need only a doctor’s letter identical to the one you would need for a passport in order to change a Social Security gender marker.  If you are seeking a name change then expert advice is to wait until the name change is official, so that you can change them both in one trip.  In addition, the only issue that might occur with Social Security for transgender persons is when it comes time to go on Medicare depending on medical procedures requested, so there is plenty of time to get the gender marker changed.  Expert opinion is that name change is far more important for Social Security.

Physician Sample Letter for Social Security and Passport

In my opinion, the above letter is the ideal letter for both Passports and Social Security.  Make sure it is on your physician’s letterhead and you should be good to go.

More excellent information on Social Security can be found here:

National Center for Transgender Equality, Social Security

Other Info:  Name Changes and Gender Markers at the State Level

Finally, the National Center for Transgender Equality has some really great resources on a variety of topics, including document change information for each individual state.  Making it a one-stop resource regarding most of what, we, as parents, need to know to take care of our children’s name and gender marker changes.

Late Edit:  I strongly suggest getting 5 official copies of any documents (name change, birth certificate, etc.)  Often times government entities will keep the official document, and depending on where you live, getting more will require having to go in person to get more.  Save yourself the hassle.

Dreams of Loneliness

dreamWe bought Fab a dream catcher tonight, to chase away the nightmares that seem to plague her sleep almost every night.  This is a side to her transition that I haven’t really touched upon, but it something that I’ve come to understand many transgender kids suffer from.  That is not to say that they have nightmares every night, but rather it is the subject of Fab’s dreams that she has in common with many kids like herself.

Fab’s nightmares center around her family being killed, and in violent ways, but isn’t them dying that makes her dreams nightmares, rather it is that with our deaths she will be left alone.  Loneliness, the fear of being alone is what has had her sleeping on the floor of our bedroom for the past two weeks.  She is still adjusting to her new normal, and with it she is coming to grips with her place in the world, and how navigate within it.

Loneliness isn’t just about losing people that love her, but also the loneliness of feeling different, solitary, or unique.  Pick your adjective, it really doesn’t matter, she knows she is different from all the other kids she knows, and it is something we know she thinks about.  We have told her that she isn’t the only little girl like herself, and that there are others.  We have already planned a meetup with other families that have daughters like Fab, but still in the concrete world of a seven year old, she won’t truly believe it until she sees it.

Yesterday we tried to tell her she needed to go back to her room, and try to sleep.  We try to keep it real with her and her brother.  We want them to be independent, take no prisoner adults who attack the world as they go out to face it.  To us, this is the greatest gift we could give to both of them, and in some ways she already possesses this attitude.  In other ways, she is still just a little girl.  The little girl told us that she needed to sleep with us until we found someone to talk to her about her nightmares, and she did it without missing a beat.  We hadn’t talked about that with her, but it seems she already has things she needs to talk about, and hearing the stress in her voice…well, she is still sleeping in our room.

When family ask how she is doing, I tell them when she wakes in the morning she straps on her armor to go off to school.  Within it she is safe, and happier than before, when she was living a lie, but still I think to myself it has to be exhausting for her to be on guard all day long.  To her credit, she is doing a great job.  She gets asked on a daily basis, “why do you want to be a girl?”  Coming from kids her age, it is an honest and curious question, but it can still be stressful.  We’ve told her to tell them, “because it is who I am” or to simply say “because I want to.”  Often she doesn’t say anything, because she has already developed her own defense mechanism, and  she doesn’t owe anyone an explanation for who she is.  Still…these are stresses you never want to see your young child dealing with.

Take a moment, how annoying would it be for any of us if we were asked on a daily basis why do we want to be the gender we know we are, or why do we wear the clothes we wear?  It’s like asking the couple who can’t get pregnant, “why haven’t you had babies yet?” or the single person “Are you ever going to get married and settle down?”  How would it be if people who used to see you one way now stared at you as you walked down a hallway?  She is my brave little girl, chin held high, she has taken on a sassy persona to cope.  As parents we show patience, knowing this is a mechanism she uses to deal with the ugliness she knows she might face on a daily basis.

We know this will get better for her.  We believe therapy will help, and every new day that she gets to be her true self is another day she becomes more comfortable with who she is and her place within the world.  We haven’t talked too much about what “transgender” is, other than having read I am Jazz once.  We don’t think it is necessary yet, or that it’s something she needs to grapple with at the moment.  That is a talk that has to come, but it can wait for now.

We still think things couldn’t have gone much better with her social transition, and we aren’t so naive to to think there weren’t going to be issues that would need to be dealt with.  Luckily, she has adults and children at school who have her back, and a family, nuclear and extended, who are proud of her, and happy that she can be herself.  These are blessings that many children don’t have, but simple things that, as adults, we can easily give our children.

It is so easy to love a child, and yet there are some who can’t, which brings me back to her nightmares.  Feelings of loneliness often can lead to suicide in adolescents, because, by extension, they feel as if they matter to no one.  This is our greatest fear for her, and something that we will always work at to make sure she knows just how much we value and love her.  We can all do this for our kids.  It is a parent’s job to leave ego behind and simply love their child.

I want my little girl to grow up to be a bad ass chick, and for the life ahead, I think that attitude will serve her well.  In the meantime, she can go on being mommy and daddy’s little girl.  After all, she’s only really enjoyed that status for two weeks now.  She can also go on sleeping in her tee-pee in our bedroom, where there is now a new rainbow dream catcher with pink feathers hanging from the tee-pee ceiling…waiting to catch and take her nightmares away…and if it doesn’t work, then we are right there, and for now that is enough to ease her mind.