trans

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

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