The week before Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, people and organizations around the country participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender people and address issues members of the community face. We know that one of the most important factors for the well-being of transgender and/or non-binary students is their familial support network. This year, we asked a few of our many affirming parents/guardians in DPS what they want people to know about their transgender and/or non-binary student.
We are honored to kick off this important week by sharing their testimonials.
Testimonial 1: Parent of a transgender child
I want people to know that my transgender child knows exactly who she is. All she wants is love and acceptance, just like any child. One way to support her and students like her is to use a person’s true name and pronouns. A lesson I have learned from my transgender child is that the most powerful thing somone can do is let people be who they are.
Testimonial 2: Parent of a transgender 5th grader
My child continues to model and teach me so much about being authentic and true to oneself. He truly knows himself. He knows he was born with the wrong parts. He 100% feels like a boy on the inside, and feels most authentically himself when he presents that way to the world. His self-confidence is so powerful now that his outside appearance (hair, dress, etc.) matches his inside. One way to be an ally to him and other transgender people is to honor them and their feelings- listen. And then listen harder.
Testimonial 3: Parent of a transgender 8th grader
The most powerful thing about my child is bravery. They are just another wonderful young human being and they are now mentally healthy since they can truly be themself without judgment and obstruction. Some ways I recommend being an ally are: Ask questions. Educate yourself. Don’t deadname or misgender, and if you do, apologize. Be a friend. Be an upstander if you see them being mistreated in any way. Try to remove gender specific language and references in your vocabulary and life (“Boys and girls…”). Love them for who they are!
Testimonial 4: Parent of a transgender child in DPS
My daughter is the bravest person I know, her voice is the most powerful thing about her. Something I have learned from her is that transitioning is a journey. Not every transgender person changes their look the next day after coming out. Sometimes there is some back and forth. My child is happier when she is free to express herself however she sees fit. She wants and needs support from the people she loves. Something I have learned as an ally to my child is to follow her lead. Let go of traditional gender roles and let them be who they are without judgement.
Testimonial 5: Lynn Kutner, DPS Parent
My child is amazing, beautiful, courageous, and strong. Every day they experience a world that is not very welcoming or accepting and all they want to do is just be their authentic self. I am in awe of my child’s courage and bravery every single day. Just walking into school is stressful because of their anxiety about being “deadnamed,” trying to shake off transphobic microaggressions, and dealing with using the restrooms at school. They just want to be themself and be a teen without having to defend their right to exist on a daily basis. From my child, I have learned the power of authenticity – of finding and celebrating your personal style (especially when it means more glitter).
My advice for being an ally:
- Each transgender or non-binary person’s journey is uniquely their own and it is their choice what they want to reveal about their identity, to whom, and in what situations. “Outing” someone as transgender or nonbinary can be mentally hurtful and also potentially put people at physical risk.
- As an ally, respect individual expression of identity – there is no “correct” way to appear transgender or nonbinary.
- Never ask questions about people’s anatomy or whether they have had or are planning to have any type of medical procedures. It’s none of your business what someone’s body parts look like or what their medical history is.
- Always work on using people’s correct name and pronouns. Yes – using “they” as a pronoun for one person is grammatically correct!
- Normalize using pronouns such as in your email signature, introducing yourself, or when on a virtual call.
- Try for gender-neutral language when referring to people or groups. Saying things like “you guys” or “dude” or “hey girl” all ARE gendered terms.
- If you need to separate people into different groups, use other strategies than grouping by “boys” and “girls”.
Stay tuned for a statement from students for Transgender Day of Remembrance on Friday!