Help Stop Hatred: Learn About Transgender Kids

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Pride Parade 2018

My Transgender Daughter is Awesome

I’m a mom of six, one of whom is trans, and I want you to learn about transgender kids to help stop hatred. My daughter faces discrimination, obstacles, and heartbreak if we don’t change. How do we do that? One person, conversation, and heart at a time. Learning about trans identities is something we can all do to heal generations and prevent violence and suicide. To start, I want to tell you our story.

When Ella was born, we expected a boy. By all appearances, we got just that. We were thrilled. We’d had a girl and were excited about trains and superheroes. By 18-months-old, something was clearly different. Our “boy” only wanted to wear dresses, loved Princess Anna, and showed zero interest in any traditional boy things. We were surprised, but having an older sister was an easy explanation. We’d never heard about transgender kids.

Transgender Daughter

By 4K, she strongly preferred “girl clothes.” She wore pants on her head as long hair. She drew herself as female, identified with female characters, and showed confusion over being called a boy. We made her wear boy clothes to school. We weren’t sure if this was a phase, a result of limited socialization with boys, or if we’d “done this to her” by allowing dress up.

After school, she’d change clothes immediately. She went from daytime to diva in less than a minute, without fail. For dress-up days, she transformed into princesses and ballerinas. At Center Time in class, she played with kitchen sets and dolls.

That year, she started having night terrors. She wet through several outfits each day. By years end, we stopped insisting on boy clothes and let her wear some of her sister’s. The change in her was so positive; I took her shopping for her own.

At the end of 4K, she asked us to call her, “a daughter, sister, and girl.” We’d expected this but had avoided labeling in case it was non-conformity or a phase versus a transgender identity.

What is gender

I had to learn about transgender kids.

I made an appointment with a gender therapist. I joined groups for parents of transgender children. I read books about what being transgender means. I pored through studies, laws, and history. The things I didn’t even know I didn’t know filled volumes. I learned the difference between advocating and gatekeeping. I petitioned our school board for bathroom rights and district-wide policy change. I met with doctors.

I made myself an expert on my child.

Since transitioning, she’s embraced a love of all things creepy, superheroes, and black clothes. She’s eight and cooler than I’ll ever be. She doesn’t have to convince anyone she’s a girl. We know. She can be who she wants, how she wants. One important thing I had to learn about transgender kids was that they don’t owe us a binary identity. Gender is a spectrum.

People ask how I’ll respond if she “changes her mind,” and while that’s unlikely, I’ll respond by loving her – who she is, at that moment, always.

I’ve written about our journey and how other people impact that. Ella’s open about her identity and proud of who she is. She’s accepted and loved at home. She has supportive friends and teachers. Sometimes ignorance and hate hit us hard, but that means we get to show a lot of people what true acceptance means. Ella’s journey is just starting, and ours is too.

Help us love her by learning more.

Transgender Pronoun Pin

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Jess
Jess grew up near Madison and has lived in the Milwaukee area since 2013. She's a mom to four small children, who love to make crafts out of garbage, draw on walls, and make creepy, creepy masks. She also has two teenagers who live with their dad in Madison. She loves to watch them all grow to be amazing, unique humans. She spends her time outdoors with her feral little family, hiking at State Parks, camping, or visiting new parks. She also loves helping them make messes and create art... but hates the clean-up. She is a freelance writer, editor, and marketer for a living, and spends the free time she has left working on personal writing and art projects. She's involved in social justice and advocacy work and is particularly interested in LGBTQIA+ issues. She stays involved in politics and her community and is always looking for ways she can help to make a positive difference and spread awareness to inspire change. When she isn't busy with those things, she can be found binge watching Netflix, reading, listening to new music, and wasting her life on Facebook.

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