Category Archives: transgender

Lady Valor – “This is the life I was given.”

TransParent

“No one has ever met the real me.” – Kristin Beck

Former U.S. Navy SEAL, Kristin Beck, says she knows what she wants. She wants to have her life.

Check out the CNN film, Lady Valor: The Kristen Beck Story, for some kick-ass courage, strength, honour… and the pursuit of happiness. #Transgender #Truth

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Ethan Smith: A letter to the girl I used to be

Ethan Walker Smith, performance poet of spoken word poetry, shares a profound letter to his former self. I have to admit, this got to me. Even after all I know, and all I think I know about the spectrum of emotions and reconciliations of self that are tied to gender… there is still so much to learn and be humbled by. Thank you to Ethan for a powerful, necessary and very personal insight into who you are.

“The year you turned 11 was the first time you said out loud that you didn’t want to live. In therapy, you said you wouldn’t make it to 21. On my 21st birthday, I thought about you. You were right.” – Ethan Smith

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Attend the LGBTQ Parent Conference this Saturday… it’s FREE!

There is still space available for the LGBTQ parent conference this Saturday, April 26th! Wondering who the guest speakers are and what kind of information you can expect?

BREAKOUT SESSION ONE:  Dr. Carys Massarella – Health Care for Gender Independent Children and Youth

BREAKOUT SESSION ONE:  Positive Space Advisors – Understanding School Support for LGBTQ Youth

BREAKOUT SESSION TWO:  Marcus Logan – Top 10 Fears and Strategies for advocating for LGB Children and Youth

BREAKOUT SESSION TWO:  Catherine Thorpe – Top 10 Fears and Strategies for Advocating for Gender Independent Children and Youth

Register for one session—or come spend the day! Click the image below to register for this FREE event.

eventbrite_conference

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FREE one-day conference for parents

Calling all parents in southern Ontario! Loading up on information is a great way to be the best parent you can be. And FREE information… well that’s just awesome! Come and learn how to arm yourself and your children with positive identities.

ChangePosterFINAL

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My MTF Daughter: An open letter to her friends

My beautiful girl

My beautiful girl

I understand that there are a great deal of you out there struggling for the courage to tell your parents, family and friends who you really are.  I can’t even fathom how scary that must be.  Here I am born into a body that suits me just fine.  But I did have cancer once, so I know what it feels like to have that separation of mind and body and to also feel betrayed by that body. It’s not the same I know, but it’s a close as I can come to walking your walk.

When my extraordinary daughter confided in me that she was born in the wrong body, she did so in a letter. Well, an email really. As close as we are, she could not tell me this to my face. And I don’t blame her. In her email (sent from her bedroom to mine) she got right to the point in a single paragraph, and included explicit instruction not to speak to her about it in person. So, what did I do? I marched right in there and started a conversation.  She was so scared and nervous that it broke my heart. It no longer mattered what the conversation was, I just wanted her to feel comfortable to talk to me and be herself with me.  My girl was amazing.  She was quiet and patient and no matter what I said or asked, her response was a tentative and gentle “I love you.” Genius, right? That’s my girl.

It took a long time for life to return to “normal” but we found our groove and I learned to go at her pace. (Sometimes she had to remind me to slow down.) I took on the responsibility of telling the rest of the family, and I did so without her present. I assume acceptance, I don’t ask for it. But, people need time to digest. To ask questions, to understand what it is that we’re telling them. There is a lot of misinformation and misrepresentation out there that has left a negative stigma attached to transgender. It takes time to cut through that crap and undo the falsehoods. I found it easier to avoid the word transgender in the beginning. I came at it sideways and let my family know that my son was actually my daughter… with a hormone problem. A treatable hormone problem. And then I asked them for their help. People generally want to help. They want to feel useful. Giving my family members a task helped ease them into the transition of letting go of an assigned sex, and seeing her for the person she’s always been.

When it came time to tell her friends, my girl wrote them a letter too. This one was a little longer, a little more thought-out, and she planned to post in on Facebook the night that all of her friends would be at their grade 8 graduation. My girl didn’t want to attend, and I don’t blame her for that either. If you can’t party in sequins and lace, it ain’t a party.  Once she posted it, we sat together in a cuddle on the sofa on pins and needles waiting for the dance to end and the comments to begin. We were beside ourselves with fear, and the wait was excruciating. But finally, they came. They came in droves. And the support was overwhelming. It brought tears to my eyes and my girl was floating around on cloud nine. We hugged and danced and laughed at our own silliness. To all the people who left a comment of support on my girl’s Facebook page that night… thank you, thank you, thank you. From the very bottom of my mommy heart.

My girl has given me permission to repost that letter to her friends here. I hope that it may inspire some of you to find the words and courage to let go of all that you’re not, and live each day with who you really are.

Mackenzie-letter

**Update – You can read more of our story, or find tools for acceptance in my new ebooklet, an unwanted penis. Now available on Amazon, and coming soon to an e-retailer near you. Spread the word and help more of our youth gain acceptance from their parents. #anunwantedpenis

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‘Transwoman’ finally makes the Oxford English Dictionary

I say finally, however, until about three minutes ago, I had no idea that the words; transman, transwoman, transperson, transphobia, or transphobic weren’t already in the dictionary.  An entire community are now validated by the addition of their  objectification in the June 2013 list of new word entries for the Oxford English Dictionary.  Awesome.

gangnam-style

So who do the OED think they are? They claim to be the world’s most comprehensive single-language print dictionary and a hoity-toity authority of words too. Pfffft.

Does the dictionary still have a place in our lives? (I mean, aside from the dreaded Scrabble challenge of course.)  Or has it become an obsolete and privileged form of printed language?  

I make words up all the time. When my kids were little we’d go hiking and my son would stop in the middle of the trail every 30 seconds to point out some obscure bug. With wide, innocent eyes he would ask the question I dreaded most. “What’s the name of that bug, mommy?” And of course I would make something up.  “Why, that’s the BershtaWurshtaBeetaBotta bug, son.”  The long scientific name of course. (It has to sound relatively authentic, ’cause it’s a 5 year old’s mission to catch you in a lie.)  By the time that boy was 10, I had my own hand-written dictionary of words that I’d made up over the span of his short life. (It’s a marvel he graduated high school at all with his mothers’ schoolin’.)

But who hasn’t done that, right? 

 

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To be a better parent, see yourself as a child.

The most common question I’m asked after appearing as a guest speaker for parents dealing with gender non-conforming youth, is “what one piece of advice could I give to parents that would help them begin to accept their child.”

child

Each time I’m asked this question, it’s like I’m being asked which end of the bull I would like to do battle with. I stare blankly back at the ask-er, and all coherent thought eludes me.

The truth is, I find this question quite troublesome. What kind of parent doesn’t accept their child as-is? And unfortunately, that immediate thought blocks out all others. (I excel in self-distractibility.) The trouble with being forthright with honesty is that I tend to offend. I’m the kind of gal that others refer to as… prickly. Not everyone can handle the truth.  And while I am learning how to make-nice and think of people’s feelings before I speak my truth (I still don’t think that should be my problem, however, I don’t make up these rules of engagement) in the end, I babble some feel-good jibber-jabber to confuse and distract, and then quickly move on to the next question.  

But everywhere I go—there it is. Like a dead albatross that I must wear for my crime of automatic acceptance. I have spent many a car-ride home contemplating a better response to this question.  One that is true, but also considerate. A philosophical conundrum for the passionately honest folk like myself. <ahem.>

After serious soul-searching, the only answer I’ve decided I can (or should) give is that which is true for me. Given my bedside manner (there’s a reason I’m not a therapist or social worker) I need to choose my advice wisely. 

My one piece of advice is actually two-fold. Appreciate life, and remember to see yourself as a child.  Most people don’t appreciate life the way that they should. It usually takes monumental adversity to scare-up the kind of appreciation for each moment of the day that you have available to love—and be loved.  Epiphanies can’t be taught.  Each person must find it for themselves.  And it must be practiced daily.  This kind of appreciation helps settle you. It directs your battles. It reduces fear, anger and frustration. If you are struggling with acceptance of who your child is, I encourage you to have an epiphany.  There are worse evils in the world that can be delivered to your doorstep.

Also remember that you are but a child yourself. As adults, we have wrapped ourselves in the glory of our own families and have forgotten the once upon a time of our youth.  The way in which you love your own children is the way that you are loved.  Denying it or not feeling your parents love does not constitute or guarantee its absence.  I may have grown up and become an adult and a parent, but I did not leave my youth behind as I might have thought.  It has been here, in me and around me, the entire time. The absolute truth of what I know is that your life is not a linear succession of milestones, but a vast circumference of love and memories.  I did not leave home and embark on my own life—home came with me.  Always and undeniably, I am but a child of my parents. 

baby hand

I have been lucky enough to have had several life-changing epiphanies.  Perhaps I didn’t get it the first few times—but you can read the one that stuck here.  With this understanding, I see parenting through the eyes of the mother AND the child.  Children look to their parents for comfort, nurture, safety, and acceptance. And if you love your children… you will swim the ocean, you will climb the mountain and you will go toe-to-toe with the boogeyman.

My advice is, go put your big boots on.

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