season 2

My Privilege as a Parent of a Trans Kiddo

Privilege.. Something I didn’t realize I had in my twenties. But, turns out I had a whole lot of it! Now it is something I am acutely aware of as a (mostly) white, cisgender, heteronormative, able-bodied, educuated Canadian. All of these “labels” work together to allow me a high level of privilege. This is a privilege I can use to help people who currently have less of it.  

What is social privilege you might ask? 

“Privilege is professed to be an advantage that only one person or group of people has. These groups can be advantaged based on age, education level, disability, ethnic or racial category, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and social class. Social privilege must be understood as the INVERSE of social inequality, in that it focuses on how power structures in society aid societally privileged people, as opposed to how those structures oppress others (Wikipedia, 2019).” 

Why is this an important conversation for parents of transgender kiddos, and allies of the transgender community? 

Back in January Lucy and I attended a conversation at SFU titled, “Trangender Kids are Not New” hosted by Julian Gill-Peterson. There was a ton of valuable information shared that night, but my biggest takeaway from that conversation was that if my kid was not white.. They likely would not be living their true life as a transgender kiddo. I learned that trans children are most often located near large urban centres like Vancouver, and that they are often white children of cisgender, educated, middle-class, parents. As sad as it is, this was a consideration I did not have before this night. 

In more rural communities where increased racism, decreased socioeconomic status, and lower levels of education might be present, many families would have increased challenges in learning their child’s true identity, helping them live as this identity, and finding competent support. If you are a family who is struggling to put food on the table, working two full-time jobs in a week, and fighting to keep your children safe; their gender identity is unlikely to be a main focus of conversation. 

My privilege means that I live my life with less fear. It means that I can access competent care to support my family. I go through my everyday life with very few barriers standing in the way of what I am hoping to accomplish. Not all transgender people will experience fear and stigma as a result of their transgender identity; but many will, and most do. 

Our trans friends make up 1 - 2% of our population. They spend a great deal of time sharing their stories, educating others, and trying to create safer social spaces. They can’t do this alone, and this advocacy work can be tiresome and exhausting. Often minority voices are excluded from the conversation, are discriminated against, and are left out of formation of policy. Our trans friends need us to use our cisgender privilege to help them and give them a hand-up! 

So that is what Lucy and I are calling on you folks for. Join us in examining the privileges you have, and how these relate to the biases you hold as a member of our society. This conversation is not meant to blame or shame anyone, but to get people asking the questions; what has my privilege afforded me, and how can I use my privilege to help others?

— RUBY

Shoes do not have a gender!

It hasn’t been an easy summer. I started a new job right at the height of the end of school year hussle last June, and the whole summer was full of adjustments. Adjustments for me moving back to full time work after years of working all combinations of stay-at-home, work from home, casual, part time, evening and weekend, and fabulous school hour schedules. Adjustments for my kiddos who spent more time in summer camp, more time with family, and less time at home with mom. We spent the summer figuring out a new normal, and learning that adjustments are just that, adjustments … temporary periods of time filled with anxiety, worry, and new stuff! 

So back to school was a very welcome return to routine, friends, teachers, and extracurricular activities. And what do you do to prepare for all these things?! Go shopping for new running shoes of coarse! 

In the last few months, J has really embraced that he likes the colours pink and purple. He has been branching out from stereotypically gendered “boys” clothes and so he had one specific request for running shoes this year … they had to be pink. 

Great! No problem. There are lots of pink shoes out there right?! 

Sure there are … in the “GIRLS” section. For some crazy reason I did not think this was going to be a problem. I thought we would walk into a store, look at the wall of shoes and pick a pair in his size. And let me tell you which stores are doing it right by mixing gendered kids shoe options … SPORT CHECK, you rock. Your wall of shoes was awesome and gave my kid the ability to pick what he wanted without feeling uncomfortable. 

Even when we asked for the “most pink shoe in a size 3 for my son here”, the sales associate did not blink and eye and off she went to show us the options. ALSO, surprise, surprise, THE BAY does a great job with their shoes. They have a table set up with all kids shoes mixed on top of the table. 

BUT ... of course there is a but … we ended up in the kids specialty shoe store, and folks it was hard. For a kid who had to work very hard for years to convince us all he is a boy … it can be pretty upsetting to say the least to have to return to the “girls” section to shop for what he likes. The specialty shoe store was so gendered and soooooooo binary. The store is perfectly split down the middle with the blue side and the pink side. 

As we entered I thought to myself, “Ok Lucy, don’t make a big deal of this” and I proclaimed “Ok kids, there are pink shoes over here!” … and then my youngest kiddo says, “nah, I’m going to go look at the boys shoes here”. Giant eye roll, seriously kid? Have I taught you nothing?!?

I see J shrink a little bit and wander towards the pink side slowly. I just couldn’t be easy going anymore … so I spoke VERY loudly and said “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BOYS SHOES AND GIRLS SHOES, THERE ARE ONLY SHOES!!! KIDS, LET’S GO” 

Ugh. So this is my plea, if you have contacts in retail environments, start asking the questions. Why are kids items separated by gender? Can we put like items together? Is this binary separation necessary? 

Because creating more inclusive retail environments will not only help kiddos like mine, they will help all kids, and adults … and help change the culture holding us back from being ourselves.

— Lucy

Finding Resilience Without Parental Support

Alec’s story is a little messy. Kind of complicated. There are many layers that make up who Alec is, and how he has come to exist in this world. It’s a beautiful, thoughtful, vulnerable story . Grab the kleenex my friends - you may even be able to hear our jaws drop a few times throughout this one! 

Hearing Alec share his story in my living room was actually kind of surreal. To be honest, the whole time he was talking all I could think was, it is nothing short of a miracle that you are here.

Alec is the definition of resilience. Look up resilience in the dictionary, and I am pretty sure you will find the handsome fellow pictured above right next to it. 

Alec tried for years to come out to his family. Every time he did, he did not receive a welcomed response. 

“Wait ‘til you’re older.” 

“If you were in your late 20s.. Maybe we could accept.” 

“Don’t tell anyone.” 

He knew something was happening, that something wasn’t quite in alignment, from the age of 5, but didn’t have the words to fully express what he was going through. One of the reasons he didn’t have the words was because he was told he shouldn’t tell anyone - told he should keep his thoughts and feelings a secret. 

This week we are exploring a side we haven’t yet seen on The Gender Diaries podcast. What does life look like as a trans youth who does not receive parental support? You’ve heard the statistics. But honestly, we don’t need a study to tell us trans youth need family support. All kids and youth need parental support. 

Trans youth are much more likely than their cisgender peers to experience depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and ideations. Alec explores his experiences with these, has words of wisdom for other trans youth planning to come out, and advice for parents who are struggling with accepting their kiddos. 

At The Gender Diaries we encourage parents to open their arms first out of love, get informed second, and then break down the gender walls that society creates. We heard Alec echo these sentiments, and he articulated it in such a vulnerable, brave, and engaged way. 

Alec has become a real life representation to our kiddos. We are SO grateful to have you in our lives Alec. You are a beautiful, kind, and thoughtful soul. Thank you for coming into MY life, and MY kiddos life right when we needed you. You’re welcome at our dinner table any night of the week. 

XO

Ruby 

Hear Season 2 Episode 3 here!

Gender Diverse Family Planning

We have had one appointment at the Endocrinologist for J. We didn’t even meet the Endocrinologist actually. We met with a Social Worker and a Nurse to talk about what to expect as we head closer to puberty. J came prepared with a sheet of paper with his questions on it. The Social Worker was so sweet with him and made sure every question was answered. 

J’s questions consisted of things like:

“How many needles do I have to have?”

“How big are the needles?”

“Does it hurt?”

“Will I have to take medicine for the rest of my life?”

Serious questions for a kiddo who was just eight years old at the time. 

But one thing that was breezed over was probably one of the BIG thoughts us parents of trans kiddos/youth grapple with during transition. How will my child have children? What will his family look like? 

The advice the children’s hospital gave was to make an appointment with a fertility clinic. Did we make that appointment? NOPE. It feels like a conversation I shouldn’t have to have right now. It feels like a decision my child should get to make when he is old enough, responsible enough, and perhaps with a partner he cares for and respects. It isn’t my decision as his Mother to decide if he can or should have children of his own one day. But alas, like many things on this journey, we do need to talk about this. And unfortunately, Alex and I will have to help J make some of these decisions. 

  • To be perfectly honest. I was totally prepared to accept and explain to J that he won’t have a biological family of his own. Because really, I already know that there are so many ways to have a family and many of them do not involve biological children. But you know what… I was wrong … and I am so glad I hid from the conversation a little longer so that I could learn more about how families are built for gender diverse parents. 
    Enter Trystan Reese … who publicly first shared his story as a trans man growing his family on The Longest Shortest Time podcast a few years ago and continues to share his story on Biff and I and through his work as a social justice professional educating others on fertility for trans youth and speaking across the USA. We are so honoured to have Trystan speak with us this week on The Gender Diaries Podcast as part of our first episode of SEASON TWO! Check it out and learn with us.

— Lucy