Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Mommy Is a Boy

ABC published this story about transgender parents and their children this week. I was pretty pleased with the coverage, which is informative and respectful. The piece actually gives some good advice to transgender parents.

Walter Bockting, who runs the Human Sexuality program at University of Minnesota, is quoted:
"When coming out to children, it is always appropriate to do so at an age-appropriate level. When a parent begins transitioning and coming out, it is something of adolescence for them too. They might be taking hormones which not only affect their body but their mood too. It is important for a transgender parent to remember they are a parent first."

While the journalist ask me some sort of strange questions (e.g. 'is it harder for kids with transgender parents to understand how babies are made?') and prompted me to respond 'What is a normal American family, anyway?', the quotes he used were good ones, including a plug for the KOT resource guide. I'm not thrilled about the male pronouns used to describe my dad, but talking about transgender people who are just coming out and on the verge of transition is always a pronoun challenge (even for me).

I even get the last word:

Monica Canfield-Lenfest first learned her father planned to make his outward appearance match his innermost feelings and become a woman when she was 17.

Because of feelings of shame and fears of being teased, many children keep their parent's transition a secret, leading the children to feel isolated and alone, said Canfield-Lenfest, who, as a fellow at Colage, a group that counsels children of gay and transgender parents, is writing the first resource guide for children of transgender parents.

"The biggest thing is a feeling of isolation. My dad came out when I was 17, and I thought I was the only one," she said.

"People have all kinds of reactions. One friend found out his father was about to undergo a transition and his reaction was 'Oh, that's fine, can we make the 2:20 showing of X-Men 2.' Other people are angry. Many have questions right away, and others need to process the information more slowly."

"The best things a parent can do is keep their door open and answer their kids' questions," she said.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kids of Trans Program Video

So much thanks to Donna Rose for doing this video interview with me at the Trans Leadership Summit. The production came out great, especially my name in bubbles! Can you tell I'd been practicing my public speaking that weekend?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March 19, 2008 - Five Years Too Long

"Tour of Shame" snake march through downtown SF early Wednesday morning, organized as part of Direct Action to Stop the War. I have more than a thousand words to say about this stupid War, but the picture will do for now. More photos at

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Checking In

March is speeding toward April and this is my first post this month. So much for keeping up with my blog. A lot has changed over the past few months, which some of my more astrological friends call out as Saturn Return - apparently my entire 28th year will be riddled with uncertainty. Oh goody!

It feels like a paradigm shift; I thought I had some idea of my future and recently admitted that my perspective has changed. My relationship fell apart, my plans to return 'home' to Boston unraveled. This essentially happened in the six weeks between my MSW application submission and receiving the letter of acceptance. Thanks, Simmons School of Social Work, but no thanks. Turns out, I'm not ready to go back to school or leave San Francisco. I'm not even sure that I want to be a therapist for transgender people and their families, despite my heart-felt application statement. It makes me laugh -- how did I think I would know the next step before I took this one? Live and learn. New slogan for 2008 = Liberate your desires.

Besides all of the processing of paradigm shifts, I've been getting some KOT work done...
The resource guide is almost finished, thanks to so much support from the queerspawn and transgender communities. I am finalizing the content this week, based on feedback and edits from a few KOTs, therapists, and trans advocates. The photocopied version of the guide will be available early April at the IFGE conference in Tucson, where I am co-presenting two workshops and hope to spend some time by the pool.

Last week, I sat on a panel after the Frameline screening of transparent and Just Call Me Kade at the SF LGBT Center. The films were good, despite the lack of children's voices in transparent. I love sitting on a panel and seeing at least fifteen friends in the audience. Queerspawn community in the Bay Area is truly a marvelous thing.

Friday, COLAGE's Board of Directors convened at the CTWO House in Oakland, a rad old purple mansion that hosts racial and social justice groups for meetings and retreats. We met about strategic planning all day and hosted a reception in the evening, where I spoke about the successes of the KOT program and pledged to become a monthly donor. Did I mention how much I love queerspawn community?

I slept too little and awoke early to travel to UC Berkeley for the Transgender Leadership Summit. This was my first visit to the Berkeley campus and I kept an eye out for a landmark from 'The Graduate'. (Do you have pictures in your head about places you've never been? My image of Berkeley was taken from the scene when Benjamin Bradford tries to find Elaine Robinson at school.) A young Dustin Hoffman was nowhere to be found, but some of my favorite trans activists were in attendance. I saw Jamison Green, who complimented the resource guide draft I'd sent for his review. Donna Rose (who vocally resigned from HRC's Board over the ENDA debacle) made a short video with me about the KOT program, which will be posted on her website. She is an absolute peach, assuring me that I am 'an honorary one of us'. Aw, shucks.

I attended some great workshops at the summit, including a fundraising session that was exactly what I needed. The KOT program isn't going to support itself and I need to raise some funds to get the resource guide out into the world. GLAAD did a media spokesperson training, which I left early to attend the AFLOAT caucus. AFLOAT (Allies, Friends, Loved Ones, and Tribe) is another acronym for SOFFA (Significant Others, Friends, Family, and Allies). No one knew where AFLOAT originated and I find the use of 'tribe' slightly problematic. I'll stick to SOFFA, but the caucus was a nice gathering of folks connected to trans people. I introduced myself as a 'super SOFFA'. Although I was the only KOT, the family and partner perspectives resonated deeply.

I am so grateful for the support my work has received, from COLAGE and from the transgender community. It's all coming together and I couldn't have done it without all the love. To those of you who have inspired me to keep me going, Thank You!