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.

No comments: