Category Archives: Youth

Issues impacting youth and very young adults.

Debi Jackson, Mother Of Transgender Child, Gives Moving Speech

DebiListen
You must watch this video which is part of the Listen to Your Mother series of videos, and features our very own Debi Jackson, contributor to Transas City and a close friend of mine. Her story is incredibly touching, and the video conveys fully the emotions she feels over standing behind her transgender daughter.

Again, you must watch this video and see if you have a dry eye afterwards.

Debi Jackson, Mother Of Transgender Child, Gives Moving Speech.

Jay Kelly Knows Who He Is

Jay Kelly (photo from Instagram)

Jay Kelly (photo from Instagram)

Jay Kelly, formerly known as Jaya Kelly, is the transgender son of singer R. Kelly and TV personality Drea Kelly. Last month he publicly revealed that he is transgender on his social media accounts.

He has said that was 6 or 7 years old when he realized he identified as a boy rather than as a girl. “I believe I am a boy and want surgery and the medication to help me be who I was supposed to be,” he explained.

Jay shared that his family is supportive and switched to using his new name and correct pronouns. However, many people speculated if he meant his entire family, including his father, since they seem to not see each other very often. We finally learned the answer to that question this week.

R. Kelly appears to be in a state of denial right now, and is possibly even looking for an explanation about how his child could be trans. During a radio interview earlier this week, he responded to a question from the host about all of the blog reports on Jay by saying, “…don’t even give the blogs that kind of credit. But as far as that’s concerned, always believe what you see — with your own eyes that is.” He seems to be implying that the blogs are reporting who Jay is rather than Jay himself. Hmmm…

When pressed further, he said that there is a “backstory” and why people can’t judge another person. Backstory? One self-described black feminist blogger (whom I won’t name or link to because I don’t want to promote her false statements towards Jay) speculated that Jay was acting out because of his father’s alleged sex crimes and was neglected at home.

One writer did call out the media by listing 5 ways their reporting was poor, from calling Jaya the wrong name and pronoun, discussing surgery, and promulgating false transgender stereotypes.

As for R. Kelly himself, I hope he stops listening to bloggers and listens to his son. Jay knows who he is. If he needs to “believe what he sees,” he needs to spend some time with his son so he can see what the rest of us can — a happy, confident teenage boy.

CBS Profiles Trans Youth, as Poll Shows Objections to Trans Accommodations

Transgender children were covered as a topic on CBS Sunday Morning in a fairly positive manner, but they did devote a bit of time to the haters, as well as focusing on a poll showing that a wide majority of Americans believe transgender students should not be allowed to use their gender-congruent bathrooms.

The CBS poll, conducted in March and released this week, found that only 26 percent of respondents believe trans students should be given access to restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity, whereas 59 percent of those polled believe trans individuals should be forced to use facilities of their birth-assigned gender. Fifteen percent of poll respondents either did not know or did not answer the question.

Women were more likely than men to believe that trans students should be given access gender-appropriate facilities, with 29 percent of women in favor of transgender-affirmative public accommodations compared to 23 percent of men. Thirty-three percent of self-identified Democrats support trans students, compared to only 16 percent of Republicans.

Unfortunately, the Advocate concludes that the smear tactics of the Pacific Justice Institute and other hate groups may be working:

These tactics, often described as the “bathroom meme,” rely on thoroughly debunked myths involving a fear that people will claim to be transgender simply as a means to gain access to restrooms and locker rooms so that they can more easily assault unsuspecting women. But perhaps, as the poll indicates, the tactics are having some success.

WATCH: CBS Profiles Trans Youth, as Poll Shows Objections to Trans Accommodations | Advocate.com.

A Thank You to the Whittington Family and Ryland

If you haven’t seen this video titled “The Whittington Family: Ryland’s Story,” you must not get online every often. It has been EVERYWHERE for the past week. I’ve seen it on dozens of websites, in my Facebook newsfeed almost 100 times, and I’ve seen the story discussed on major TV shows like Good Morning America.

The Whittington’s story is so much like our own that I was happy to see the amount of coverage it received. Their video is very well done and makes the points that so many of us with young transgender children want people to understand. Their child started expressing who he was (saying “I’m her brother” when talking about his sibling) at an early age without any prompting from them. The parents and doctors believed it might be a phase, but the phase didn’t end and his expressions about who he was grew stronger. He understood his parents’ and society’s expectations of what he was supposed to be, but he still expressed a desire to be true to himself (saying “When the family dies, I will cut my hair so I can be a boy.”).

It’s very difficult for me to not read comments that accompany stories online about transgender issues, especially the ones about transkids. I want to see if there is a changing attitude towards children like my daughter. I want to be hopeful. I want to see compassion. I want to see non-judgement of us as her parents. Thankfully, I saw about 90% positive comments on most of the sites and posts on social media. And when the 10% of ugliness popped up, it didn’t go unanswered. People replied, defended, explained.

Sadly, some of the websites used more salacious headlines to get clicks, such as “Parents Support Child With Sex Change.” Even sadder still, many people admitted in their comments that they didn’t watch the video and didn’t know anything about transgender issues but still felt compelled to mock the family, Ryland himself, and give their uneducated opinion about why his transition was wrong and disturbing. That would be like a hair stylist saying, “I’m not a NASA rocket scientist, but I know exactly why the space shuttle blew up on re-entry.”

I did post a comment on a couple of the larger websites, hoping to counter some of the negative responses. Here is what I said:

“To be diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria (yes, it’s a medical condition), a child has to have been insistent, consistent and persistent in declaring his or her true gender for quite a while. They rule out the “just a phase” possibility by looking for these three markers. Yes, it can be hard to understand that a child can know at a young age, but can you remember making a conscious decision about your own gender? Doubtful because it happens at a young age without you needing to “decide” it. And unlike wanting to be a dinosaur and changing your mind, how many times in your life have you insisted you were a different gender? You cannot equate imaginary play with an internal sense of self.

Parents don’t influence and persuade their kids to transition. Most are dragged along in a bit of shock and disbelief as their child becomes more and more insistent over time. We certainly were. We are a conservative Republican, Southern Baptist family and certainly didn’t influence our son to declare “You know I’m a girl on the inside, don’t you?” If you have a 4-year-old child who constantly talks of death and tells you over and over again that their body is wrong, you listen.

We didn’t diagnose our daughter. The professionals who know a lot more about hormones, child development and psychology did. And you know what, we now have a 6-year-old daughter who tells us how happy she is and that she loves us several times a day instead of saying she wants to die. Call me a bad parent for allowing her to transition if you want. I sleep well at night and so does she.”

I believe the Whittington’s beautifully expressed how every parent of a transgender child feels with this statement: “Relative to the horrific things that people have to endure with their children all over the world…this is nothing. He is still healthy, handsome, and EXTREMELY happy. We signed up as parents with no strings attached.”

Love. Acceptance. And ultimately happiness. That’s what every parent should offer their child and hope to see in return.

Thank you, Whittington Family and Ryland, for sharing your story. We all benefit from seeing this kind of love.

An Osceola (Florida) High Transgender Student Runs for Prom King

Sebastian RollinsAnother in what I hope are a long line of successes at the youth level of activism – Sebastian Rollins, a transkid, is running for prom king and receiving quite a lot of support from both fellow students and school administrators (of course, with the recent Title IX ruling from the Department of Education, they have little choice in the matter).

Go Sebastian!

At Osceola High, a transgender student makes a run for prom king | Tampa Bay Times.

Stepping Into the Spotlight to Shine Light on Transkids

Listen-To-Your-Mother-KC-gives-platform-to-transgirls-momLast Saturday I was one of 14 women who took the stage as the cast of the 2014 Listen To Your Mother Show in Kansas City. If you aren’t familiar with LTYM, it’s a nationwide series of live readings by women (and some men) about motherhood.

After our story about our 6-year-old transgender daughter was published in the Kansas City Star and I expanded on it with a post here, someone suggested I submit my story to Listen To Your Mother. I did and was surprised when after also reading at a live audition, my story was selected. Then a bit of apprehension struck.

My husband and I have shared our story on a local talk radio show a couple of times. I have called into the Rush Limbaugh show and was on-air twice trying to educate his audience about transgender issues. We have appeared on another local radio program called TransTalk. And, of course, we participated in the Star’s article. But in all of these cases, only first names were used and we adamantly refused to show our faces. Privacy and safety issues took precedence over everything else.

Agreeing to participate in Listen To Your Mother, though, meant that I would have to stand under a spotlight in front of an audience of strangers and talk about my daughter’s private medical life. The readings are filmed and published on YouTube for anyone to see across the planet. (I’ll add a link here when they are ready to view.) This was pushing me into new uncharted and uncomfortable territory.

Two days before I was scheduled to speak, I posted a comment on a trans advocacy group’s Facebook page. My comment received a direct reply which was the most horrible and evil thing anyone has ever said about my daughter and our family. It amounted to a death threat, and I have to admit that I was suddenly very intimidated about showing my face on stage 48 hours later. My LTYM castmates, local show producers and national leadership all rallied around me. With their love and support, I decided to look fear in the face and tell our story. It became bigger than our story. I needed to step on stage, stand up for all transgender kids and their families, and do my best to dispel myths about the transgender experience.

As much as bravado as I tried to show, I have to admit that I was the only one in our cast who started crying before uttering a single word. I finished my story in tears as well. It was much more emotional than I ever would have imagined it would be. I thought I would feel relieved as soon as I walked away from the microphone and took my seat, but I didn’t start to feel better until the next day when some of the supportive comments I’d heard after the show started to sink in.

Two days later, the local news started reporting on another family whose child was transitioning and how her school was handling it. Conservative talk shows started up with the usual conversations and callers chimed in with the same misconceptions and myths that I had tried to dispel in my LTYM speech. The weight of the world came down on me, and I realized that my one 5-minute story was merely a drop of water in what needed to be an ocean of information washing over the public. My husband and I wanted to do more.

Then the phone call came. Our wonderful gender identity therapist called to ask if we would go on TV with her in an interview.

It was now or never; time to take another stand.

We agreed and actually ended up showcased in interviews on two stations. That night, we couldn’t bring ourselves to watch and turned off all electronics to avoid any backlash from people who would recognize us.

The backlash hasn’t come (so far, anyway). Before Listen To Your Mother, I would have never considered giving a TV interview. In fact, we turned down a couple of previous opportunities because we had set limits on how far we were willing to go in our advocacy. We wanted to lead, but only if we could lead from behind a veil.

My new family — my amazing LTYM family — helped me see that I can be a leader without needing a veil. They helped me see that it’s no accident that my child is transgender, because it has allowed for personal growth and for me to step into a leadership role I wouldn’t have been prepared to do otherwise. By telling our story openly and freely, I can build a bridge between my daughter’s humanity and my audience’s humanity. I can bring understanding and help close a gap that up to this point seemed like a never-ending abyss. Because of the Listen To Your Mother Show, I am prepared to step out of the shadows and be a visible face in the fight for transgender rights. I thought the show would be five minutes in a literal spotlight. Now I recognize it was a door to bigger and greater things. Look out, world, because this mom is not backing down.

UPDATE: Interviews with the Parents of a Transgender Girl

This is a continuation of the post I made yesterday where it made the news that a transgender girl was coming out at a Raytown elementary school. This update from a different network features two video interviews with the parents of another Kansas City transgender girl which are definitely worth viewing. I know the family well and they are even more brave and awesome than their interviews let on.

Boy at Raytown elementary school asks to be called Jasmine – KCTV5.

Raytown School Notifies Parents About Student’s Gender Change

KMBCThis video clip and news article on Channel 9 KMBC’s website is actually fairly sensitively done. The video features a segment talking to Caroline Gibbs, the woman who quite honestly saved my life and set me on the path to be the happy, successful woman I am today.

It’s a short article, well-handled, and I hope for all the best for young Jasmine!

Raytown school notifies parents about student’s gender change | Local News – KMBC Home.

US Dept. of Education Announces Title IX Protects Trans Students

TitleIX
There is a new announcement that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 now “makes clear that the federal Title IX law prohibits discrimination against transgender students.” Here are the relevant clarifications from the FAQ released by the Department of Education. While primarily concerned with addressing sexual violence, the full text concerning transgender youth says:

B-1. Does Title IX protect all students from sexual violence?

Answer: Yes. Title IX protects all students at recipient institutions from sex discrimination, including sexual violence. Any student can experience sexual violence: from elementary to professional school students; male and female students; straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students; part-time and full-time students; students with and without disabilities; and students of different races and national origins.

and further:

Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation. Similarly, the actual or perceived
sexual orientation or gender identity of the parties does not change a school’s obligations.

Indeed, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth
report high rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence. A school should investigate and resolve allegations of sexual violence regarding LGBT students using the same procedures and standards that it uses in all complaints involving sexual violence. The fact that incidents of sexual violence may be accompanied by anti-gay comments or be partly based on a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation does not relieve a school of its obligation under Title IX to investigate and remedy those instances of sexual violence.

If a school’s policies related to sexual violence include examples of particular types of conduct that violate the school’s prohibition on sexual violence, the school should consider including examples of same-sex conduct. In addition, a school should ensure that staff are capable of providing culturally competent counseling to all complainants . Thus, a school should ensure that its counselors and other staff who are responsible for receiving and responding to complaints of sexual violence, including investigators and hearing board members, receive appropriate training about working with LGBT and gender-nonconforming students and same-sex sexual violence.

Pretty unambiguous wording, which in a sweeping way now protects transgender students at any public school which receives government funding.

Two Schools, Two Acts of Discrimination

anais-celini-and-nathaniel-baez
Here are two short stories, one takes place at a high school, one at a university, and both involve trans-discrimination.

In the first report, senior Anais Celini at Martin Luther High School in Queens, New York, was told her boyfriend, transman Nathaniel Baez was not welcome at their school prom because “his transition was unconventional and not beneficial.” The second word throws me, and is reported as a quote by the Huffington Post. What do they mean by “beneficial?”

Instead of fighting the decision the couple have decided to not challenge the school and hold their own private prom elsewhere. Honestly, it’s difficult to find fault with the couple – while on one side I wish they would fight so they would pave the way for those who follow them, at the same time they are just kids, and kids have enough stress and hassle as it stands without throwing into everything a media sensation and spending a lot of time with lawyers.

jayce-m-george-fox-university

In our next story we have the case of transman Jayce M., who is seeking permission from George Fox University, Oregon, to move into the male dorm after he completes transition. The university has told him that he isn’t welcome in the dorms with room mates, and should stay either off campus or in a single rooms.

The university’s position is somewhat baffling:

“George Fox strives to be a Christ-centered community, and our residential facilities are single sex because of our theological commitments. The student’s request to switch from female-only on campus housing to male-only on campus housing is one that many institutions would struggle with.”

They would rather have a transman living with women rather than with men – and they believe this is the “Christ-centered” way of doing things? Really?

Couple Plans Own Prom After School Bars Transgender Boyfriend From Attending.

Camp Allows Gender Non-conforming Boys To Shine

This is the sort of story which really touches me – in fact I wondered if it was a cruel hoax at first, but it appears to be absolutely real.

Over the past three years, photographer Lindsay Morris has been documenting a four-day camp for gender-non-conforming boys and their parents.

The camp in the US, “You Are You” (the name has been changed to protect the privacy of the children and is also the name of Morris’ series), is for “parents who don’t have a gender-conforming three-year-old who wants to wear high heels and prefers to go down the pink aisle in K-Mart and not that nasty dark boys’ aisle”, Morris said with a laugh.

I think actually my favorite part of the story is the main photograph showing the smiling, clapping parents as a child walks in front of them in their dress.

It’s a feel-good transgender story, and there are two other lovely photographs at the link below, which I urge you to see.

Camp allows boys who do not conform to gender to shine.

Mom Announces Rebirth of Her Transgender Son

Its-a-boy-transgender-son-announcementOften times parents take the news that one of their kids is transgender in stride, but they still struggle with how to tell everyone else — or even if they should tell other people.

Jodi Gholson Oliver made a declaration that so many of us (especially with very young kids) would be afraid to do. She didn’t just quietly inform a select few that her son Jes is transgender, she celebrated it with a new birth announcement on Facebook. In a relatively short post, Jodi honored her son, explained the change, and let people know that she would not tolerate negativity or inappropriate questions.

While Jodi didn’t plan for her post to “go viral,” it has and it’s inspiring people across the country to send her family comments full of good wishes. Jes even got in on the act and shared her post on Tumblr where it has received more than 162,000 notes to date. I think I see a pattern of family pride, love and acceptance here.

Transgender Substitute Teacher Upsets Lumberton, Texas Bigots

Sometimes I wonder about whether I would have been a good mom. Whether I would have raised my children properly and taught them how to respect others, be courteous and conscientious, be open to other cultures and new experiences, and face the world guarded yet unafraid to step up and do the right thing.

And then I read about “concerned parents” like the ones in this article, and I snort and think “well hell, I can’t do worse than them.”

The basics of the story, which my friend Danna (a transgender schoolteacher herself) pointed me to are simple and sadly familiar.

Act 1 – Invasion: The transgender teacher, also known as “the Satanic Succubus in Clouds of Sulfur (SSCS),” worms her way into the classroom to “teach” her unholy agenda, telling such lies as the South lost the American Civil War and the Earth is NOT 6,000 years old.

Act 2 – Discovery: Brave soldiers of goodness and light uncover the SSCS, and bring her into the light of Jesus. Unfortunately, they are not allowed to burn her at the stake (thank you very much, evil liberal Supreme Court!), but they can ensure that she will never work again!

Act 3 – Counterattack: The SSCS enlists her unholy allies – the transgender “activists,” the “ACLU,” the “Southern Poverty Law Center,” and (gasp!) the EEOC of our Muslim conqueror, Sultan Obama.

Act 4 – The Final Battle: the forces of good and light gather throughout the state, and ultimately chase the evildoers back to New Sodom (California). Texas secedes from the United States. No one notices any difference.

Transgender substitute teacher upsets Lumberton ISD parents – 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas.

Gender Stereotypes for Kids Are Taking a Toll

"My Little Pony" promotes friendship, but an MLP backpack promotes bullying. Photo: WLTX

“My Little Pony” promotes friendship, but an MLP backpack promotes bullying. Photo: WLTX

If you have been on Facebook lately, you’ve probably seen one of the many posts about 9-year-old Grayson Bruce who was told by his school not to continue carrying his beloved “My Little Pony” backpack. While this isn’t an issue of discrimination or bullying towards a transgender child, the seemingly growing divide between what is accepted as “ok” or “normal” for each gender certainly is a problem that can and will affect the transgender community.

In Grayson’s case, rather than deal with the bullies (at of the time of this post, the school still hasn’t done anything to reprimand them), the school counselor told Grayson that the backpack is a “trigger for bullying” and should be left at home to prevent more problems. Grayson’s mom wisely pointed out that blaming the backpack is akin to saying a woman’s short skirt was to blame for her being raped. Blaming the victim never makes sense.

Grayson has received an overwhelming amount of support and even has a Facebook page dedicated to him. Supporters are calling on the school to allow Grayson to carry his backpack and to address the bullying more directly.

In an odd twist, even right-wing Conservatives like Glenn Beck are showcasing their support for Grayson. In a rather bizarre and transphobic comment, Beck stated:

“Here’s why I’m torn on this because in a society where I have to build you a special bathroom because you’re confused… God forbid you were ever born a certain gender. No, no. I have to build a bathroom for you. But a 9-year-old boy can’t choose to be different? A 9-year-old boy can’t choose My Little Pony and be protected by the school? The only ones being responsible here, I think, is the 9-year-old kid Grayson. He’s being authentic. He’s being responsible. He’s saying, ‘This who I am. I don’t care what anybody else says about me.’

Ironic, isn’t it? Glenn Beck sees Grayson as being authentic to himself, but he considers transgender people to be “confused.”

Just in case you don’t think a little bullying of a “Brony” is a big deal, it also led to an 11-year-old boy’s attempted suicide earlier this year. Michael Morones tried to hang himself from his bunk bed railing after being teased relentlessly at school for liking a show that promotes friendship.

As a society, it’s time to put aside the idea that pink, ballet, and ponies are only acceptable for girls, or that blue, football, and lions are only for boys. We are causing serious damage to our children — all of our children — by promoting such strict gender stereotypes.

 

Transgender Student Inspires in All-Girl Pageant

There’s so much to like about this story. I wish that it could be repeated in so many more places.

A Chapman University senior became the first transgender contestant in the university’s annual all-woman pageant Wednesday night, winning the title of Miss Congeniality.

Addie Vincent, 21, faced off against 15 other competitors for the title of Miss Delta Queen, a competition organized by the university’s Greek system. The pageant’s winner was Alexandria Kessinger.

“Tonight was so awesome,” Vincent said after the pageant. “The fact that I was just able to compete was so amazing on its own.”

Throughout the contest, many of the 500 students and audience members whooped and hollered every time Vincent took the stage at Memorial Hall.

Following the poem, students shouted, “We love you Addie!” and gave Vincent the night’s only standing ovation.

“Addie has inspired so many people,” said Lauren Chouinard, a friend and former pageant contestant. “Addie sent a message so many people needed to hear.”

Each contestant was nominated by a campus fraternity or sorority. The Alpha Delta Phi fraternity chose Vincent with a 20-0 vote, with fraternity members saying they nominated the senior to show support for the transgender community.

I’m a little troubled by the fact that she had to be nominated by her fraternity, but that may just be a necessary incongruence.

Transgender student inspires at Chapman pageant – The Orange County Register.