it is the last day of the gender spectrum conference.
there’s no way to do justice in a blog to the experience
we have had. in order to do that, it would be necessary for
the computer screen to grow weepy around the eyes, and the
reader to see the glow in my daughter’s smile.
i found gender spectrum in a round about way.
a kindle amazon search led me to the book
‘the transgender child’ by stephanie brill.
this book was not only an excellent way to begin to
understand my child, but also served as a reference to genderspectrum.org
and dr. spach at boston’s children hospital.
having made contact with dr. spach’s office helped me to know the protocol
that we would follow to help zeeona become a young woman,
and also convinced the child protective services social worker
who came to investigate a complaint about my ‘parenting’,
that i was a good parent, doing everything above board to
correctly see to the needs of my child.
i gave a copy of stephanie’s book to the counselor we found
who was happy to have the resource since she had no
prior experience with transgender issues.
for although our focus for zeeona’s therapy wasn’t to be
about her gender identity variance,
it seemed a necessary pre-requisite that the person ‘connecting’ with my daughter have at least
the beginnings of understanding.
then through the genderspectrum.org website i learned about the family conference.
this was the fifth year of the annual event, and was so jammed packed with information
that choosing which seminars to attend and which you’d have to miss was a most difficult decision.
there were seminars on everything from legal, medical,
and mental health issues, to how to help family understand
or how to create supportive community,
even some on how to reconcile the transgender reality
to one’s faith or spiritual beliefs.
and while the parents or caregivers were busy getting all
educated and developing resources, the children were kept busy
with important things too!
there were kids, tweens and young teens and older teens,
separated into groups with age appropriate activities and
the volunteers were nothing short of awesome!
the weekend was incredible for zeeona too, who usually only
participates in parallel play. she played actually ‘with’ the
other children! and altho the usual lack of recognition of
social nuance was definitely in evidence, the planning and the
care of the staff were such as to prevent incident.
(a child with autism is often not an easy one to integrate into
a group whose members are strangers prior to the the event.)
it was heart-warming to see all the other parents and
caregivers there supporting and loving their children
just as they are.
it was encouraging to learn about all the professionals
not only giving seminars for the event,
but also participating as attendees educating themselves
to better serve their clientele.
it was inspiring to watch the beautiful kids and young adults
being who they are despite the dominant society’s attempts
to oppress them.
kids simply being themselves.
i come away from this experience with answers to many
of the questions only the parent of a transgender child needs,
and with a feeling of confidence that we are not alone.
there are caring professionals who make it their life’s work
to see to the concerns of transgender folk.
there are other parents who share in common with me,
the experience of advocating for their gender variant children.
there are other children and young people who, like my
daughter, are going about the joyful and sometimes difficult
process of growing up.
in the afterglow of this experience, the world seems somehow a
more hopeful place; a place that can make room for a child
like zeeona, and all the others too!