Safe Space Radio has a new series on LGBTQ teenagers in Maine which began with this first installment aired originally this past Monday, Feb 10th at 1pm. It’s with a teenager who identifies as gender neutral.
From SSR: The series, which is supported by the Equity Fund, is taking a look at how the culture in high schools is, or is not, changing one year after the passage of marriage equality in Maine. With the recent Maine Supreme Court ruling protecting the right of trans youth in Maine to use the bathroom of their gender, there is much cause for hope. But it remains true that LGBTQ teens are at high risk for bullying, rejection by their families and suicidality. Over the span of 6-8 weeks, they are interviewing teenagers about what life is really like for them, what it has been like to come out at home and at school, and whether they experience less of a sense of isolation, or stigma now than in years previously. The interviews are poignant, courageous, touching and even inspiring.
Very cool stuff. Give it a listen, especially if you’re not a teenager and/or don’t really understand “this whole genderqueer thing”.
I also love that there’s a mention of how there’s always been people who identified this way, but there hasn’t quite been a movement until now: yes, we’ve been here, and it’s a relief to see a movement start to happen. Some days I wish I could go back to being 19 so I could have a name for my experience of my gender that people understood, but better late than never, I suppose. (Genderqueer would have been my choice back then, I’m pretty sure. Now, gender fluid or gender variant or gender neutral is more accurate.)
My wife also gets a load of emails from people asking where our son’s father is, as though I couldn’t possibly be around and still allow a male son to display female behavior. To those people I say, I’m right here fathering my son. I want to love him, not change him. My son skipping and twirling in a dress isn’t a sign that a strong male figure is missing from his life, to me it’s a sign that a strong male figure is fully vested in his life and committed to protecting him and allowing him to grow into the person who he was created to be.
A parent behaving like a parent. Amazing. What isn’t so amazing is how long these pernicious ideas about the lack of a strong male role model somehow “creates” feminine boys, when in fact, the lack of a strong male role model, in my opinion, tends to create bullies, not their victims.
Today, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the historic School Success and Opportunity Act into law, ensuring transgender youth have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in schools across the state. Assembly Bill 1266—which goes into effect on January 1, 2014—was authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and passed the California State Senate and Assembly earlier this summer. The law is the first of its kind in the country, and requires that California public schools respect students’ gender identity and makes sure that students can fully participate in all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities that match their gender identity. . .
California law already prohibits discrimination in education, but transgender students have been often discriminated against and unfairly excluded from physical education, athletic teams, and other school activities, and facilities. This exclusion negatively impacts students’ ability to succeed in school and graduate with their class. For example, physical education credits are required to graduate, but transgender students often do not have the support they need to fully participate in the courses.
It’s the first law of its kind, but it would be amazing to see this happen in a lot more states.
This is the first ruling in the nation holding that transgender students must be allowed to use bathrooms that match who they are, and the most comprehensive ruling ever supporting the rights of transgender people to access bathrooms without harassment or discrimination.
BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Maine’s highest court heard arguments Wednesday over whether transgender students can use the bathroom of their choice, and the girl at the heart of the case said she hoped justices would recognize the right of children to attend school without being “bullied” by peers or administrators.
Nicole Maines, now 15, watched lawyers argue over whether her rights were violated when the Orono school district required her to use a staff bathroom after there was a complaint about her using the girls’ bathroom.
Maines said after the hearing in Bangor that she hopes the Supreme Judicial Court will ensure no one else experiences what she went though.
A couple of things:
1. I am so glad there are younger people with supportive families who are taking on school systems.
2. I’m also very happy to see we are beginning to have a national dialogue about this, and that many people are starting to realize – often because of the visibility of young transitioners – that trans women are women.
3. It blows my mind that these kinds of cases are even possible, having been around when trans students weren’t given any options besides having to use the bathroom of the sex they were declared at birth.
The clinic, which is up and running but has yet to officially launch, is the first of its kind in the city and one of few resources for gender-variant kids younger than 13. Through the clinic, children dealing with gender identity issues will have access to everything from endocrinology to psychology.
“As a unit, the family is not always ready to embrace terms like ‘LGBT’ or ‘transgender,'” said Dr. Rob Garofalo, director of the Center. “I think coming to Lurie allows people to come to a place where services are hopefully increasingly culturally competent, without threatening the developmental trajectory that these families have to go through.”
Garofalo created the clinic out of a patchwork of specialists already working within Lurie, a move that both has both staffed the clinic and furthered understanding about transgender lives within Lurie, he said. The Center will also employ a psychologist and a social worker.
In past years, Chicago families with transgender kids often found medical and mental health services piecemeal. While many of the city’s LGBT organizations offer youth services, most of those services are designed for kids ages 13 and older.
Some families flew to Boston Children’s Hospital or Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which both have gender clinics for children. But for families without the time or means to travel, finding specialists that understood gender issues and kids presented a serious challenge.
We recently went to the 15th anniversary celebration of the local GLBT Partnership here in Appleton. It’s an amazing thing, really: a small group of people decided to create a safe space for LGBTQ teenagers here in the Fox Valley in 1997 because there were no existing support groups or safe gathering places for them.
They still struggle for funding, so if you want to help out queer youth who actually need the help – and are living in a place that isn’t very queer friendly – this is a great way to do it. You have to go to this PayPal account – under SKenevan’s name – and in the memo line indicate that it’s for the GLBT Partnership. Honestly: this group is tiny and very, very necessary. (Feel free to tell them I sent you if you do donate!)
One of the group’s founding members, Shannon Kenevan, who was honored at the celebration, wrote this piece about the group:
The Fox Valley GLBT Partnership is turning 15 years old this fall. For those of you under age 30, you probably don’t remember a time in your life that the Partnership did not exist. It’s always been there to offer weekly support and leadership development to youth ages 14-18 who identify as LGBTQ, as well awareness and educational programs for the rest of our community. Those over age 30 may remember back to their teenage years when there were no groups like the Partnership. More→
I wish I could communicate how amazing it is to see things like this happen, to see its prominence even on PFLAG’s website. When I first started working on trans advocacy – long before these kids in the video were born – you really had to hunt to find information on anything trans, but especially so on any family-related issues.
& While there is still a dearth of information on parents who are trans themselves, we have come a long way, baby.
Switching gender roles and occasionally pretending to be the opposite sex is common in young children. But these kids are different. They feel certain they were born with the wrong bodies.
Some are labeled with “gender identity disorder,” a psychiatric diagnosis. But Spack is among doctors who think that’s a misnomer. Emerging research suggests they may have brain differences more similar to the opposite sex.
Spack said by some estimates, 1 in 10,000 children have the condition.
These children sometimes resort to self-mutilation to try to change their anatomy; the other two journal reports note that some face verbal and physical abuse and are prone to stress, depression and suicide attempts. Spack said those problems typically disappear in kids who’ve had treatment and are allowed to live as the opposite sex.
The reason, of course, is that Sasha is starting school.
Miss Laxton, a web designer from Sawston, Cambridgeshire, admitted that keeping her child’s gender under wraps for so long had not been easy. At her mother and baby group, she said she was regarded as ‘that loony woman who doesn’t know whether her baby is a boy or a girl’. ‘I could never persuade anyone in the group to come round for coffee,’ she said. ‘They just thought I was mental.’
At school, Sasha sometimes wears a ruched-sleeved and scalloped-collared shirt from the girl’s uniform list. But he has yet to encounter any teasing or bullying. ‘Nobody’s ever mentioned it and I would hope that if they actually said something to Sasha, he’d be confident enough to make a good response,’ his mother said.
I think they sound entirely sane and reasonable, and I applaud their efforts to raise their child without the restrictions gender places on all of us.
The only thing that bugs me about this is the idea of using the term “gender non-conforming” for a child like this. On the surface of it, sure. But it’s exactly the gender typical femininity of such kids that often convinces people they are trans in the first place; if she were more of a tomboy, her trans status wouldn’t be as obvious to people, right?
“A lot of times, parents with straight kids, they think like, ‘You know what? That would never happen to my kid so why would my kid need to learn something like this?’ And I think the key is your kid doesn’t need to be LGBT. As long as your kid is perceived with any trait associated with LGBT, they can be bullied. They can be made fun of. Your kids can be a victim of any of that.”
He adds that parents of transgender children go through a difficult emotional process of their own.
“Parents, they have to go through different stages themselves,” he explains. “In the beginning, they tend to deny it. They hope their kids will grow out of it. They are having a tough time. They have to grieve over losing a son or a daughter and welcoming a new gender of a child. And I think that’s a process. It’s not easy for any parent to accept that because no parent has a kid and then think that this kid may be a transgender kid…. It’s tough… [when you have] a dream for your kid and all of a sudden that dream vanishes, and you have to recreate a dream for your kid[’s] future, and at the same time, knowing that society is not so tolerant out there. And I think that is very tough [for] a lot of parents to accept that.”
He advises parents who have transgender children to talk as much as possible with other people about these issues.
“I really think that [they should] talk to people about it, talk to other parents about it. And don’t just talk to one person. I would talk to multiple people. Talk to the school principal, talk to the counsellors, talk to the professional psychologists or social workers…even family doctor[s], so they can know there are people like this out there, they are not alone, and they can get help.”
This month GLAAD is working with organizations including GLSEN, GSA Network, PFLAG and The Trevor Project as part of National Bullying spiritday.jpgPrevention Month to inspire Americans to wear purple on Spirit Day. The Bilerico Project will be joining the campaign by changing our logo purple for the campaign. Wearing purple on this day symbolizes support for LGBT people and against bullying of LGBT teens.
& GLAAD lists the tons of participants:
Conan O’Brien will join CNBC’s Jim Cramer and Simon Hobbs, Dr. Drew of CNN, E!’s Marc Malkin, Thomas Roberts of MSNBC and hosts of CBS’ The Talk by wearing purple on-air. Seventeen magazine will turn its Twitter avatar purple for the day.
MTV will be turning the on-air logo purple along with its Facebook, Twitter, MTV.com and MTV Act logos. Online and on-air logos for MTV2, mtvU, MTV Hits, MTV James and RateMyProfessors.com will also turn purple. MTV 44 and ½, the jumbotron in Times Square, will also light purple for Spirit Day. More→
Activist Abigail Jensen adds that she is upset “about the erasure, at least in the headlines of this & Anderson Cooper’s upcoming special report, of the fact that this story is as much about treating children who may be transsexual, as it is about children who may be gay.”
His brother Mark says the therapy “turned his light switch off”.
I fully expect more and more families will step forward about this kind of therapy as a result of this documentary, and I’m thankful to Anderson Cooper and team for doing it. This is NOT a historical issue; reparative therapy is still “offered” to gender variant children. For a more recent take, do read D. Scholinkski’s The Last Time I Wore a Dress
In the videos, staff and youth from Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco discuss and share lessons learned regarding their approach to supporting LGBTQ youth who are homeless. The video series begins by introducing Toby, Loch and the youth from Larkin Street Youth Center. It describes the importance of being “present” for youth, and helping youth see their own strengths and resources. The youth talk about being rejected by their families due to their LGBTQ identity and leaving home as a result.
The Larkin Street staff provide tips on how to create a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ youth, including how to handle hate speech. The final episode explores the importance of never making assumptions about a youth’s sexual identity or gender expression, allowing youth to self-identify, and empowering youth to reach their full potential despite the challenges they have faced.