Really important and great film from In The Life Media:
IT GETS BETTER: PARENTS OF TRANSGENDER CHILDREN SPEAK OUT
The first “It Gets Better” video of its kind: Featuring parents from PFLAG’s support group for families of transgender children sharing their personal struggles to understand their child’s needs and find support for both themselves and their families.
CATEGORIES: GENDER IDENTITY & EXPRESSION, YOUTH, ONLINE EXCLUSIVE
Share with yr parents and families! I just emailed mine :)
Becoming Me (Full Episode) 20th Season | 2012
Eight families with transgender and gender non-conforming children ranging in ages from 5 to 25 share their stories. With the healthy development of their children at stake, parents must confront binary perceptions of gender, widespread transphobia and controversial parenting decisions.
On April 3, 2012 we held an online discussion in the comments section below. In The Life Media Staff Producer Kathryn Morrison was online and available to respond to questions and comments. She was joined by PFLAG’s Howard County, MD Transgender Network Coordinator Catherine Hyde, Gender Spectrum Director of Education and Training Joel Baum, and author of the book, “Gender Born, Gender Made,” Developmental and Clinical Psychologist Diane Ehrensaft. Continue the discussion by sharing your own experiences and comments.
Apparently there is a liquor store in Somerville that every year for the Holiday Season has a brightly lit sign that reads “Because Holidays are for Family.” Most of the holiday stories that are swapped among friends or captured for television or film involve at least one drunk relative. The message, of course, is that families are so hard to bear that we all could use a little liquoring up.
To be honest, I never bought into the “Holiday Survival Guide” view of Christmas (which is the seasonal holiday my family celebrates) or of any family gathering. Even as a “lesbian” that wasn’t comfortable talking about my girlfriend or sexual orientation and simply replied “nope” when asked about boys I might be dating, I never found family time to be intolerable. Or even that uncomfortable. Part of that is that I am lucky enough to have a pretty tolerable (and I’d even say pretty awesome) extended family and a nuclear family that is supportive and protective. Part of it is that I value what family means and I think the “bad” would have to be downright awful to outweigh the good that comes with being with family.
Admittedly, part of this might just be that my parents and sister and I moved away from Kansas and Missouri when I was 14 and the last time I’ve spent a holiday with any extended family, I was 18. That was a long time ago and I was still very much a child and probably blind to most discomfort and even wrongdoings on anyone’s part. I was in it for the chex mix and the holiday traditions and the carols my aunt plays on the piano, and the trivial pursuit, and the presents (giving and receiving obviously – my parents raised me well!) and was entirely ignorant of family dynamics and perhaps tension.
This year, I’m 24 and living “independently” in Massachusetts, my sister is 21 and supporting herself in Colorado, and my parents live in North Carolina. A few days before Christmas, the Barr family will be flying from all our various locales into Kansas City International Airport and will spend a week sharing the holidays with family and old friends. My age and maturation (as well as my sister’s) might lend new perspectives to family and holidays. Regardless of the circumstances, this trip back for a Kansas Christmas would be a big deal.
And of course, I also transitioned 2 years ago, and only two of my aunts have seen me in person “as Sebastian,” and even for them that was over a year ago and very early into medical transition. We told the family in Spring of 2010 and by Christmas of last year, all of our super extended family and old friends knew as well. I will retell the story of coming out to my extended family in another post, but the gist of it is that almost everyone was very supportive with some sadness and some discomfort and a lot of love.
But so this is my first Christmas with the whole Barr/R (my mom’s side of the family whose name I feel I do not have the right to give out here) clans as a young man. Last year, I got my first gifts addressed to Sebastian. My grandma restitched my stocking with my new name. But this is the first time these people who have known me my whole life will spend any prolonged period of time with me in my male role.
Obviously, there is stress involved. There have been talks with my parents and my sister about what our limits are, and what my limits specifically are. I spent two therapy sessions preparing myself emotionally for the best and worst case scenarios, and hopefully everything in between. I’m fortunate enough to know that I’m not walking into rejection. These people love me and do know me as Sebastian and have had some time to come to terms with the concept of that. But I imagine there will be some adjustment required for them to fully come to terms with living and breathing Sebastian. I suspect my old name will resurface for the first time (random spam emails aside) in a long time, accidentally of course. There might be pronoun confusion. “The Barr girls” will inevitably slip out of someone’s mouth (hell, last year I had to correct myself on that one!) Will they see me as a man or as their female niece, cousin, granddaughter who transitioned and lives as a man now? My grandma for my birthday this year got a card that said “grandson” on it. I’m her only grandson.
Am I going to feel compelled to play up my masculinity and male role and presentation in order to be accepted in this “new form”? Am I going to have to sit through conversations about the changes and how “real” I look?
I mean, I’ve tried to smooth things out beforehand as much as possible. I’ve sent current photos so they all know what I look like, I’ve spoken with many of them on the phone, many are facebook friends. I’ve not left much room for a shocking grand entrance or anything like that.
Here’s the thing. My relatives are likely going to be great. I think I will come away feeling incredibly affirmed overall. I think even our old friends (some of whom haven’t seen me in a decade anyway) will also be affirming. I think they’re gonna get it. My mom keeps saying that when you’re in my presence there’s no denying that a) I’m a man and b) I’m still essentially the person they’ve known for 24 years. This will probably be a very positive story and experience. I think on their end, or at least I hope, there will be more fuss made about my newly discovered gluten intolerance than there will be about my newly-stepped-into gender role.
But something I’ve sort of really put effort into in my real life is creating a social circle that didn’t really know me before I transitioned. People who may have met Sarah or knew of Sarah but didn’t really know “her.” In this way, my true identity is constantly affirmed because it is all they know – my friends often say that they forget I existed as a woman or girl ever. Like they get that I’m trans but when they ever think about my childhood or even my early college experience, they picture Sebastian. It is the opposite with my family and my old friends. They knew Sarah much better than they know Sebastian, if you will. They were closest to me when I was living as a girl. They know what I’m up to now, and we talk every once and a while, but they don’t really know me anymore.
What used to cause some of the most dysphoria in the beginning of my transition was knowing that people were looking at me and seeing “female.” That’s when I wouldn’t leave the house. Once I was being read as male about half the time, the harshest dysphoria I experienced was when I felt like people were looking at me and seeing “the old me” – searching for or even unconsciously picking out the parts of my face that were Sarah’s too. I cannot tell you how hard this is for me. And it is something I still struggle with, so opening myself to people who knew me so well pre-transition and are essentially being introduced to me as I am now brings a lot of anxiety regarding dysphoria.
I have struggled so hard to be seen for who I am and not who I was, yet who I was is a very important part of my relationship to this group of people. And even if most of that had nothing to do with my gender or how I looked, it was at least shelled in that, because we experience people through our physical forms and roles.
So this is how I am feeling as I prepare for my trip in (yikes!) two days. I am a little stressed about their discomfort, anxious about my own dysphoria, and so excited to see these important people with whom I haven’t connected in years.
I’m saying, Bring on the Holidays! (And maybe a little liquor, too)
[I will be writing a follow-up post during and after this visit for Autostraddle, so keep yr eyes peeled!]
About The [Youth and Gender Media] Project
The Youth and Gender Media Project encompasses a growing collection of short films that capture the diversity and complexity of gender non-conforming youth. In The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children family members relate their transformations from denial to acceptance and finally to celebration around supporting and nurturing their courageous children. I’m Just Anneke tells the story of a gender fluid twelve–year–old girl who’s taking hormone blockers that delay puberty so she can decide if she wants to be male, female, or somewhere in–between, when she grows up. Becoming Johanna tells the story of a sixteen–year–old Latina transgender teenager living in Los Angeles whose deeply religious, immigrant mother commits her to a mental hospital against her will in order to prevent her transition to a young woman.
The films introduce radical new concepts for many audiences, from the very idea that a young child can be transgender and have the wherewithal to fight against the pressures to conform to a binary gender paradigm, to the new and still very rare use of hormone blockers to delay puberty. However, since the films are structured around universal themes such as parenting and acceptance, identity and difference, growing up and coming of age, tolerance, love and self-esteem, they remain accessible and deeply moving even to people who are resistant to the idea of transgender youth.
In collaboration with our outreach partner Gender Spectrum and several other non-profits dedicated to creating safe and inclusive classrooms for gender nonconforming youth, the films will be used to educate teachers, administrators, parents and students in school communities across the United States.
I just watched I’m Just Anneke and The Family Journey and was floored by how great they are. Read more about them and consider buying the DVD for yourself (or yr organization).
Buy the DVD:
The latest issues of Original Plumbing (the transmasculine quarterly magazine) is all about family! Check it:
Original Plumbing’s Family Matters issue has been a long time coming. The longest OP to date with 60 pages of interviews with every type of family that would share their story with us, this issue isn’t just for OP fans, but is also a personal resource for family members of trans children and trans parents looking for community. Some subjects touched on include: Chosen family, solo parenting (& dating) as trans men, being a supportive parent of a transgender teenager in the public school system, foster parenting, grieving the loss of a family members, trans male pregnancy and more.
Photo spreads and interviews with:
- THOMAS BEATIE: Beyond “The Pregnant Man”
- 16 pages of portraits and interviews from the 10th annual PHILADELPHIA TRANS-HEALTH CONFERENCE
- WYATT & MAX: Two trans guy dads dish on solo parenting and the dating strike that lasted a year
- KY: NYC welder & cover model talks about the adoption process from personal experience
- YOUR MOM: OP Editors Amos Mac & Rocco Kayiatos shut up and give their mothers the floor
WITH EXCLUSIVE WORDS BY:
- Nick Krieger
- Sawyer DeVuyst
- Elliot Foxprince
- Nick Mwaluko
- Charlie Stephens
- Carole Alfe & Diana Kayiatos
(The Moms of OP)
To be honest, I don’t usually read OP, but I’m definitely buying this issue!