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Transgender People in the United States Seeking Asylum

I went to the screening of Las Abogadas film at Filmfest DC. What does this have in common with transgender people in the United States seeking asylum? Read on to find out.

This crucial independent film has won various awards as it travels across the United States and beyond. In the movie, three immigration lawyers are documented on the front lines of migrant camps across the Mexican border. Footage of caravans of refugees from Central America travel with nothing but a backpack, many pushing strollers or carrying babies. In short, the film is essential, the stories are devastating, and the problem is real.

Transgender People in the United States Seeking Asylum

I was stunned by the words printed on the screen, “refugee status or asylum may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” Please reread that passage and let that sink in. There was the actual definition of refugee and asylum from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. I grabbed the arm of my companion and took a deep breath. Transgender people in the United States are forced to seek asylum in their own country. They are refugees.

Governments Seeking to Erase Segments of Society

The courageous documentary shared interviews and footage of people accused of being separatists because they refused to march in parades or participate in activities that support governments seeking to erase segments of society. It provided footage of people leaving their homes to protect their children. The film traced the lives of people in danger because they do not agree with the government in their country or are fleeing violence. Some people were running to seek medical attention or reunification with family. All of the refugees were seeking liberty and freedom. They left behind everything they knew, their families, community, and belongings, to flee from oppressive governments and violence.

Civil Liberties and Freedom Under Attack

I met three families in Denver for the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive in April; this is just the tip of the iceberg. Two fled Texas, and one is leaving Montana to escape legislation that strips their civil liberties. In addition, our dear friends are fleeing Florida in June; they, too, seek freedom, liberty, and the right to raise their children in safety and peace.

For the many families I have encountered who have moved or are planning to move, I hope it is their last. However, I grapple with the gravity of the 2024 elections knowing that even in our safe state, a federal ban on transgender healthcare, sports participation, bathroom usage, ability to self-identify, and access to diverse literature is on the line. Let me repeat it: this country’s fundamental values of civil liberties and freedom are under attack. The desperate refugees outside of the United States have no idea that the ideals upon which our country was founded are being decimated one piece of legislation at a time.

You Don’t Have to Look Outside the US for Refugees

In the quiet moments in my brain, I strategize to ensure we stay one step ahead. My husband and I discuss what we could be forced to do to protect her. I have heard mumblings in parent groups that Canada is making a move to grant refugee status to transgender people and families. Yet, I also recognize the enormous privilege of having those choices; so many are left to find a path forward while living with bathroom bans, the inability to access lifesaving healthcare, and classroom banned from acknowledging their existence.

Friends, you don’t have to look outside the United States to see that families are being ripped apart and civil liberties stripped away. To track bills nationwide, visit the Trans Legislation Tracker or sign up for Issue Voter to follow legislation in your area.


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Transphobic Commenters at School Board Meetings

top left, person in blue shirt and tie at a microphone. bottom right trans rights are human rights sign

There has been such an uptick of transphobic commenters at school board meetings.  Meetings in my county have been filled with anti-transgender public commenters. I mean filled. Like people getting in line hours before the meetings to be one of the ten commenters on the list, what they are saying is horrifying. It is time to push back.

During the midterm election cycle, participation at our board meetings was at a fever pitch. Though the standing-room-only rooms have dwindled, I was still horrified when two of the five people providing public comment presented anti-trans agendas. To be clear, one of the women used words like “disgusting,” “wrong,” and “grooming” when referring to a piece of legislation that will create inclusive health education in our schools. She explained that this was her first time speaking publicly; it was like watching a scene from the 1960s.

As I sat quietly at home, watching the recording of the meeting, I felt enough was enough. We must start pushing back. What does that look like?

Write A Letter to Your School Board

Disclosure is a topic that is not taken lightly in our community. To clarify, we must protect our children and their anonymity. I suggest that you write a letter and choose a pseudonym. I have had school administrators push back because they “don’t take anonymous comments.” This is the time to push back politely; if my child’s safety and my family weren’t on the line, I would shout from the rooftops. The fact of the matter is that our children are under attack, so we are taking steps to protect them from being targeted and bullied.

Sample letter to board of education regarding transphobic public comment

Source Data for Letter

US Department of Education:

UCLA Williams Institute:

Pew Research Center:

Share the letter with your fellow proud parents. Let’s make them hear our voices. To sum, we must fight back against anti-transgender commenters at school board meetings.

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Random Acts of Kindness Ideas for Parents of Transgender Kids

What will you do today in honor of Random Acts of Kindness Day? Random acts of Kindness Day is an opportunity to elevate our community and regain power for our transgender children. Here are some random acts of kindness ideas for parents of transgender kids.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas for Parents of Transgender Kids

  1. Write a thank you card to a teacher, neighbor, or pastor who has actively supported your child’s journey. Many people support us on our journey. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion teacher at my child’s school regularly connects with me about relevant topics. My fellow parents support me when I stand firm against parents who push their views contrary to my kid’s best interest. A small acknowledgment note for this support goes a long way.
  2. Bring a gift card to a librarian. Literally, this can be for a cup of coffee or gas. Our libraries are under attack. Locally we have parents who are “reviewing” all school library books and attempting to ban them. Our librarians consistently impress me. They stand firm that all people should be represented in libraries.
  3. If your child is in counseling, this is a great opportunity to show appreciation to their counselor. For example, ask your child to draw a picture or write a note telling them how they appreciate them.
  4. Affirming healthcare providers are in short supply. Whether they be your endocrinologist, orthodontist, or pediatrician, we must reinforce what they do right. If you would like a free Narwhal Magic Kindness window cling to give, please visit here and enter code KINDNESS for one free cling.
  5. Remember the kindness rocks people paint and leave in random places around town? Get some rocks and paint and spread some trans love around town. You never know who will see your rock and have a better day for it.

These are just a few random acts of kindness ideas for parents of transgender kids. Above all, kindness begins at home. Consequently, by setting the example, we instill a sense of value, good, and empathy in our children. Our news streams are filled with anti-trans legislation and hateful articles. Today is an amazing opportunity to take back our power and show kindness to those who work to build up our kids.

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Body Shaming

“Love your children, celebrate their bodies; they are beautiful.” His words echo in my mind as our children struggle with body image and self-acceptance. Affirming our children is so important even when they cannot see it in themselves. On the other hand, body shaming is not.

I had a delightful conversation with a group of parents of children who are transgender. Each had children of different ages, and we were all in varying stages of our parenting journey. One of the moms described having gone to the beach with her young children and a couple of friends. As they prepare to leave, she pauses, her mother’s words echoing in her ears, “you all have the same parts, just hop in and change out of your sandy clothes.” The woman panics. She had her child change in the back and the other children in front of the vehicle. Other parents chimed in with similar issues with car camping.

To clarify, body shaming is a tricky monster that can slip in without intention. I can certainly relate to the story described and my bias as a parent of a younger child who identifies as transgender. All these years later, I can see another side I was blinded to all those years ago.

To protect our children, we can inadvertently cause shame. We do it with our cisgender children as well. Body shaming is part of chaste and piety. In my life, I remember going from being a little person to someone who had to change behind closed doors and was no longer allowed to shower with or near my parents. As the parent of a transgender child, I do not place those restrictions on our children (I’m sure sometimes they wish I did- ha!). Showers and bath time are for cleaning; we shouldn’t shame our kids or force them to hide.

Children are sexualized from a very young age, especially our children who identify as trans and gender diverse. From the youngest ages, bathrooms and locker rooms are suddenly breeding grounds for groomers and pedophiles. Remember that our four, five, and six-year-old children are just that- children. Sexuality is not present until sex hormones kick in for these children or your cis children. Bathrooms are for peeing and sometimes changing. Creating shame around bathrooms and bodies is harmful regardless of a person’s age.

I ask this: be mindful of the words and actions you choose when segregating your child from others. Think carefully about avoiding body shaming, especially in your home. Be comfortable with the fact that some girls have penises, and some boys have vulvas. I am not suggesting that we intentionally expose our children’s bodies to their peers or expose them or others to create conversation. To sum up, I am simply cautioning all parents to consider the power of shame in relation to their body image and do what they can to avoid doing the same to their children.

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Transgender-Owned Businesses for Your Holiday Shopping

With the holidays right around the corner, I wanted to offer five options for transgender-owned businesses for your holiday shopping. 

  • Other Is A Myth clothing: founded by my good friend Cyrus, Other Is A Myth is a staple in my wardrobe. The clothes are soft and well-made. By ordering from Other Is A Myth, you are taking steps toward one of my favorite phrases, “Ally Is A Verb.” 
  • LeesPridePals on Etsy: These adorable, hand-made bees come in various affirming color combinations. In purchasing these crafty bees, you are directly supporting our fantastic community. 
  • Music can be therapeutic. Consider giving the gift of affirming music written and performed byJulie Be. I have had the great honor of seeing Julie perform live and watching my daughter laugh and dance to her music. Julie’s lyrics and incredible musical talent are a gift that keeps giving. 
  • How about a bit of bling? Dragun Beauty by Nikita Dragun does not disappoint. My favorite is her TRANSformation Face Powder! Unfortunately, her products can be hard to get because they sell out fast. I’ll be on the lookout for Black Friday deals for this one.
  • Bye Genderis a community-based organization whose mission is to help trans individuals access the funding they need to survive. I love their logo as much as their mission.  

Consider transgender-owned businesses for your holiday shopping this year. If you know of a transgender-owned business that we should highlight, please drop their website in the comments. Happy shopping! 

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Loneliness of Being the Parent of a Gender-Diverse Child

I want to acknowledge the loneliness of being the parent of a gender-diverse kid. Before you advocates get your lightsabers out, please listen. I am as fierce as they come. I am out there trying to slay every day to make this world a better place for my extraordinary children. But I need to pause for a moment and take stock of another reality. Loneliness.

Tonight, I was waiting for my son’s soccer practice to end, it is a Friday night, and I don’t particularly want to be here. The football team just finished a scrimmage and people are pouring out of the stands. Being a regular, I park myself front and center to wait dutifully for my son. From behind the ticket booth, they emerge. You know them, the very dear friends who just walked away. Here starts the loneliness of being the parent of a gender-diverse child.

If you are the proud parent of a transgender or gender-diverse kiddo, I know you know who I am talking about. The people who were at every birthday party, Superbowl and you got together to decorate Christmas ornaments that perhaps still hang on your tree. They were there for the birth of all your children and in my case through cancer. But when the time came to accept our daughter, they simply vanished into thin air. Here‘s the thing, while she wasn’t my bestie, he was my husband’s.

As much as I want to dismantle the patriarchy and tear apart the binary, I do need to acknowledge that my partner in life is in a lonely place. It is lonely being the parent of a gender-diverse child. His friends have walked away. He had the guts to call my passerby earlier this year and ask why he disappeared. The response is what we expected, because of her. Let me just make this perfectly clear. They walked away from the little person they had visited days after her birth, celebrated, and cuddled. They walked away from the person who ran through the sprinklers and swam in their uncle’s backyard pool at a birthday party. The little person who placed their dripping wet, painted hand on a foam cutout of a Christmas tree, yes, they walked away because of that person.

I am sure they would tell you that they walked away not from her, but from us and our parenting. Perhaps we do not fall in line with their values or don’t want us influencing their own children. I guess that is why they all fell away and the landscape of our lives is so dramatically different. Be they friends or even family, we have lost many. My husband has lost the most.

To those of you who have continued to support your children, grandchildren, or even the kids in your classroom through opposition, my hat is off to you. When all of your friends have quietly exited the room, I see you. If you have had to grapple with the difficult decision of going all-in with your kid or losing your parents, I cannot fathom the depth of your despair, it is real and it really sucks.

I want each of you to know you are the kind of brave written in movies. To place your child’s best interest above the opinions of others is not an easy choice. Again, there is loneliness in being the parent of a gender-diverse child. The easy choice is to blow it off as a phase. To closet your child or cast aside their identity. The real work is in recognizing the beauty in believing people when they tell you and show you who they are. In seeing them not through labels but as human beings. While my stomach ties in knots as they pass in front of my car and tears flow, I know that I can be grateful that I can truly see who they are. They have shown me, and I believe them.

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An Educators Role In Affirming Transgender Youth

A national survey by GLSEN has found that 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school.

The survey concludes that those who persevere have significantly lower GPAs.

These students are more likely to miss school out of concern for their safety,

They are less likely to continue furthering their education after high school. 

So, what do these statements mean for educators? 

Educators have a unique and prominent role in the lives of these children. For some, teachers are the only safe adults in their lives because their parents and siblings are non-affirming. Moreover, teachers are the first adults to see bullying and hostile treatment from other students. And they are the first people who can respond in a way that makes a transgender child feel validated and safe. Below are 5 simples ways to affirm transgender children in your classroom.

  1. Use identified pronouns and names. This is a simple yet impactful way to validate these children for who they are. When in doubt, have courageous conversations with the child about which pronouns they prefer. 
  2. Acknowledge and react to mistreatment from other children. It is no secret that mental health is a serious concern in the transgender community. One cause of depression and suicidal thoughts in transgender children is bullying. Do everything you can to prevent it. 
  3. Focus on the whole child. Transgender children are so much more than a pronoun. Find out what gives them joy. Talk with them about books, hobbies, or other activities they enjoy. Praise them for the beautiful person they are. 
  4. Educate your colleagues. Sometimes, people’s bias is unintended and comes from a place of misunderstanding or the consumption of disinformation. So, do what you can to educate your peers. Share resources and information that support the affirmation of transgender children.
  5. Think of creative ways to divide your classroom activities. Even after she transitioned, my daughter was instructed to line up in the boys line in gym class. Her reaction was embarrassment and hurt feelings. The gym teacher publicly shamed my daughter in front of her peers. It persisted despite a 504 instructing the teacher to devise creative ways to divide the class. Ideas can be anything from your favorite color or guess the number. Have fun with it. Dividing into the binary is so 2000.
  6. Don’t overthink everything. Above all, transgender children want to be loved and accepted, just like every other child in the class. Therefore, sticking to this basic principle will yield dividends in terms of a trusting, reciprocal, healthy relationship with your student. 

For more incredible suggestions, subscribe to one of my favorite newsletters targeted toward educators. Time To Thrive is an annual conference held by the Human Rights Campaign. Their monthly newsletter is a bright spot in my day. Most important, in your classroom, make sure all are welcome.

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She Deserves To Play

She deserves to play. It is a fundamental right.

I am the mother of a young girl who enjoys moving her body, is an amazing teammate, and wants to play sports. In other words, she wants to do something that should be within her fundamental rights to do. She deserves to play.

The reality is that I am a mother of a ten-year-old transgender daughter and because of that simple fact, her right to play is being threatened. Unfortunately, because of a previous administration that has made my daughter the target of dangerous laws and policies, we will forever have to fight for her right to play. Sadly, we will have to challenge laws that threaten her right to run, high-five her teammates, lose, and maybe most importantly, be a good sport.

Fortunately, we have a new leader who is ushering in a kinder, more tolerant era of inclusivity. Thankfully, we have hope. Biden signed an executive order allowing students to compete in sports according to their gender identification. However, I challenge you to think about what happens when the administration changes again. Furthermore, people are challenging his order as we speak. This could forever impact my child’s right to play sports.  Perhaps, your child will be impacted as well.

To those who question my daughter’s right to play soccer, swim, play field hockey, or any other sport, I’m all in. I am ready for the fight. Please, consider the implications of this. Do we all line up for chromosomal and hormonal testing and physical exams? You can’t test one person without testing all athletes, right? After all, that is discrimination.

In short, to those who are discussing this over the water cooler or preaching it from the pulpit, think about how your vote affects these types of policies. Above all, I ask you to think about my daughter and the entire trans community. Please consider the fact that this discrimination and segregation are personally devastating to real humans. Humans with feelings, and hopes, and dreams. People who deserve the simple, basic right to play soccer, swim, or play field hockey, just like everyone else. To summarize, she deserves to play.