By Kellee Terrell
It’s no secret that trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming children are under attack.
Recently, Iowa’s governor signed a bill to ban trans girls from participating in school sports. Texas has opened child abuse investigations into families who support their transgender children. The Florida legislature just passed a bill that would prohibit discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity at school. And even public libraries and schools across the country continue to ban queer books. These transphobic and cruel acts send our children the same demoralizing message: That they shouldn’t exist.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only should transgender children exist, but they should also thrive, live happy lives, and be treated fairly under the law. Most importantly, they are entitled to be respected, supported, and loved, especially at home. Studies show critical benefits of familial and community support and affirmation for transgender children and adolescents. Respecting pronouns, referring to their child by their preferred name, and assisting with access to gender-affirming health care can help lower rates of depression, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior. It can also help build self-esteem and help counter the transphobic messages they may be hearing from the outside world.
Love is clearly the answer.
“Love is clearly the answer.”
So, to stand in solidarity with trans children around the country and celebrate the parents who stand up for their trans children, we talked to three families about parenting, loving their children, and how that support has positively impacted their lives. Here’s what they had to say:
Parents: Jose and Lizette Trujillo
Child: Daniel Trujillo (14)
I cannot emphasize this enough: There is nothing more important than affirming and supporting your transgender, non-binary, or gender expansive child! The joy, confidence, and trust that are built from that love and support are life-changing for your child and for your family. In the seven years since we first began our gender journey with our son, we have had the opportunity to see him grow into a confident, happy, and funny young man.
“He will tell you that his gender identity is just one small part of who he is, and that there is so much more to him, like his love of music and basketball.”
He enjoys school, has an incredible group of friends, and is excited about joining the jazz combo next year. He will tell you that his gender identity is just one small part of who he is and that there is so much more to him, like his love of music and basketball. He will tell you he feels loved and safe in our home and enjoys spending time with extended family and friends. This is why the continued attacks on transgender youth and their families in Texas, Iowa, Arizona, and Florida have been so distressing.
Year after year, families have been forced to push back on anti-trans legislation, and it has begun to take a toll on so many of us. Our children constantly worry and fear what loss of health care, access to sports, and public spaces would mean for them! Even worse: They are scared of being removed from their safe and loving homes like was attempted by Governor Greg Abbott in Texas. Our transgender and non-binary youth deserve more than this! They deserve equality, and we will continue to advocate for our children until that goal is finally reached.
Parents: E. Tyler Crone and Jorge Baron
Children: Isabella (18), Luna (16), Luca (8)
State: Washington State
Loving and believing in your transgender child is a matter of life and death. Our family has been on the gender journey with our amazing 16-year-old daughter Luna since before she was two. It is a journey that I never anticipated. I will be forever thankful to the extraordinary frontline activists and leaders from across the LGBTQI+ movement globally who stood with us, held my hand and mentored my daughter along the way. Our family is proof positive that you have to be all in as a champion for your transgender and gender diverse child and that you have to fight like hell to ensure that they are safe, healthy, and celebrated. Getting connected to care and support has been arduous and word of mouth even in what I imagine to be one of the most supportive cities in the world for children and families like my own.
“Our family is proof positive that you have to be all in as a champion for your transgender and gender diverse child and that you have to fight like hell to ensure that they are safe, healthy, and celebrated.”
There is no manual for parenthood, and as scary and hard as parenting is full stop, parenting a trans and gender diverse child is even more so because the stakes are so high. All of my child’s struggles as she led us have been overcome by centering her and securing her the care she needed and wanted. Enabling our child to transition at a young age and working with an exceptional team of providers means that we have a happy, healthy, thriving 16-year-old. The pathologization and demonization of trans kids and their families and making these kids and families the center of our new culture wars breaks my heart and crushes my soul. Too many trans adults have shouldered stigma, discrimination, violence, and a denial of their dignity and now, we’re training these attacks on kids.
I have more than 14 years now of seeing what matters, of knowing that my child is thriving today because we had her back and let her lead at every step. These actions across the country are a politic of hate that has no place in this country or anywhere in the world. While it must be terrifying to be managing this as a child and as a family, the elected officials who are striving to advance their careers off our families will regret the day they took us on. Their children and grandchildren will view them with deep shame. Our trans kids are thriving when we have their back and will continue to create a more just, safe, brilliant world.
“While it must be terrifying to be managing this as a child and as a family, the elected officials who are striving to advance their careers off our families will regret the day they took us on.”
Parents: Ami & Daniel Polonsky
Children: Ethan (14), Ben (15)
Loving and supporting Ethan is a no-brainer. It’s effortless and innate—he’s my son. It would be impossible to not love and support him, and that’s not specific to him being trans. Raising a trans child does intensify those feelings, though, because of the cruelty in this world. The overt discrimination that is widespread in so many places makes it all the more important that Ethan feel as understood, celebrated, supported, loved, and lovable as possible. I hope that those feelings will serve as bubble wrap.
“I can’t imagine anything sadder than a child being told that they’re not worthy of love. No child will thrive if they’re told, ‘I’ll love you if you change the core of who you are.'”
The vision of Ethan existing in this world without love and support from his family, school, and friends is unthinkable. I can’t imagine anything sadder than a child being told that they’re not worthy of love. No child will thrive if they’re told, “I’ll love you if you change the core of who you are.” So it’s probably safe to say that Ethan is the strong, empathic, funny, smart kid that he is, at least in part because of the love and support that he has absorbed.
Looking at these current laws against trans children and their parents are equal parts heartbreaking and infuriating, and each one is a cruel, cruel violation of human rights.