This is B.’s reaction to the Chloe Prince documentary that was on the other night. Since I’m a partner, & have a soapbox from which to talk about my reaction as a partner, I thought I’d open my blog to the child of a trans parent on her feelings.
She’s 15, and her father, now female, transitioned about five years ago. She was about the same age as Prince’s eldest when she as told of her father’s imminent transition.
At first all I really felt was sadness for the children and the wife. The poor woman had to watch her spouse say on TV that she thought she might not have transitioned if she had stayed with her ex-girlfriend, something that must have felt awful and been humiliating to watch. I was shocked that the children’s reaction to the fact that their father was going to become a woman had been recorded in the first place, let alone aired on TV. As the child of a transgendered person I would be horrified if my initial reaction was shown to people all over who I didn’t even know. It’s an incredibly private moment that the rest of the world doesn’t have any business in watching.
As the show progressed I started to feel increasingly angry, and not just because she seemed to me a parody of a woman, intent on acting like a stereotype of how a woman “should be” and appearing very feminine, or because despite this femininity she still did all the “masculine” chores around the house, and we got to see pictures of her working with tools and at her job (I would have expected someone who had undergone a male to female transition to not be sexist).
I wanted to punch a hole in the wall every time it was mentioned that the children had “lost” a father. I never lost my father, just because she’s a woman doesn’t make any difference to the fact that she is my father. A sex change operation doesn’t change that. Chloe had no right to be upset about being missed out on the mother’s day photo- it was for mother’s day, not father’s day. Those children are going to have a hell of a time growing up now, and will have to deal with people they don’t know recognizing them and even judging for something they didn’t even do.
Thanks very much B. for sharing your thoughts with us. I would love to read comments from other trans people with kids, if their kids watched, what they thought.
Reason #7: Because in locations like Montgomery County, Maryland, and in Gainesville, Florida, attempts are afoot to repeal trans inclusive legislation that has already been passed. (The Maryland attempt already failed, thankfully.) But they’re doing so with signs that say “Sign our petition to keep men out of the ladies’ room!” Said Florida legislation wants cities to conform to the state’s civil rights code, which is often far less progressive – and far less trans inclusive – than the cities’. (And there’s something similar going on in Colorado.)
In case you didn’t read along all day, here’s what happened: We started the day at 105 donors and $5400. We ended the day (midnight, EST) at 196 donors and $10,746. That’s a net of 91 donors and $5346 for Obama’s campaign. We did good! Bloggers that posted:
I suspect we will make our goal of 200 if we use midnight time (PDT) I’m sure, but I’ve got to go to bed. Our cat Aeneas had an echocardiogram and 6 teeth pulled today, so I’m emotionally exhausted on more than one front.
This being the trans community, I’m sure that there will be criticism of this event, so I’ll tell you why I got so fired up about this idea & spent the day blogging it: because for me, it’s meaningful not just for an historically gay & lesbian organization like Nat’l Stonewall Democrats to set up a page for trans community donations, but that it’s important for the trans community to respond with enthusiasm when we get an org that is willing to work with us. I think that’s at least as important as criticizing orgs that take us for granted.
More than that, I believe in visibility. There was no minimum donation required, so that your “vote” (or your existence) could count very easily, even for $1. Political visibility is important – and this event made us visible not just to LGBT people, but on a national political landscape where we are, sadly, almost completely invisible. Or, as Angie at Dakota Women put it:
This is a great way to increase trans visibility, so when the election is over, we can point to exact dollars that the trans community and its allies brought in.That. Is. Huge.Whether you identify as trans or a trans ally, this is a win-win. You get to help make sure that we’re not all crying in our beers the day after election day, and help demonstrate the power of the trans community and its supporters–all at the same time!
Right on. For me, personally – well, I live in NY which always goes for the Democratic nominee for President, so it was nice to get to do something that had a little more reach.
As many of you know, Monica Canfield-Lenfest is the daughter of a trans woman and created a new resource, with COLAGE, for kids with trans parents. I highly recommend it.
1) First, tell me about COLAGE & how the book for Kids of Trans happened, what your goals were.
COLAGE (www.colage.org) is a national movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer parents. We build community and work toward social justice through youth empowerment, leadership development, education, and advocacy. I first contacted COLAGE five and a half years ago, when I was working on my undergraduate thesis: “She’s My Father: The Social Experience of People with Transgender Parents”. Looking for references for my project, I discovered a diverse community of queerspawn who gave me the space to better articulate my experience and encouraged me to continue my work, since there are hardly any resources for transgender parented families. I started presenting at transgender conferences and gained a renewed sense of responsibility to build community and develop resources for people with transgender parents.
During a COLAGE conference in Dallas two years ago, I suggested to Meredith Fenton, COLAGE Program Director, that perhaps I could fill a fall internship position at the national office. We came up with a Fellowship model for my position, which has become a new program for the organization. I worked full-time for eight months focused specifically on the Kids of Trans Program. The major goal of the fellowship was to develop resources for people with transgender parents. Since there was no book detailing our experiences and offering advice to people with trans parents, the Kids of Trans Resource Guide became the obvious main project.
My goals in writing the guide were: first, to tell other people with trans parents that they are not alone; second, to recognize that the entire family transitions when a parent transitions; and third, to provide compassionate advice from people who have similar families. In short, I hoped to create the book I wanted my father to give me when she came out to me over ten years ago. Continue reading “Five Questions With… Monica Canfield-Lenfest”
If people know of other partners, allies, or family members who regularly blog on glbT issues, do let me know so I can add them. Please, not just LGB allies; they have to regularly address trans issues and need to be currently blogging with some consistency and some history.
This year, to blog for LGBT families, I want to highlight the fantastic new work by COLAGE called the Kids of Trans Resource Guide (pdf). I’m not sure if I can express how desperately this guide was needed nor how happy I am to see it published. It includes not just tips for people who are children of trans people – whether they are still children or have become adults – but it also gives great advice to trans people who are parents, as well, including this gem:
“As a parent, remember that your children come first and your transition comes second. Transition is an inherently self-focused process, as you align your body and appearance with your gender identity. The best way to be a responsible parent during transition is to make your children a major priority throughout the process. Sometimes this means that you have to compromise your ideal time frame for your transition in order to keep relationships with your family healthy.”
Shock and revelation! Trans people are parents, children, spouses; they have families, extended families, and can adjust their transition goals to help the people who love them transition around them. How much does that rock? You can also access COLAGE’s Kids of Trans pages on their website.
They are about to take part in the Kottankulangara Sridevi temple festival. The ancient temple in Chavara, Kerala, has a unique tradition. On the last two days of the festival, regular men, common office-going professionals, dress up as women for the chamayavilakku (chamaya is make-up, vilakku is lamp). Bedecked with flowers, lamps in hand, they wait patiently till the wee hours of dawn for the goddess to bless them.
It’s also become a gathering for “feminine men,” or Kothis – which the article identifies as homosexuals and transvestites.