30 March 2015 ~ 1 Comment

Podcast Transcripts: Summary

Author: admin

(Intro Music)

Amy:

Many people have heard the term LGBTQ, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Questioning people. Today we’re hopeful to shed light on the T in LGBTQ. Little is really known about the T part. Which stands for transgender, or people who identify with another gender versus the biological sex to which they were assigned to at birth. From the Missouri Health Equity Collaborative, or MOHEC, I am Amy Dunaway. And in this podcast, I talk with parents from Transparent, a support group for parents and families of transgender youth. TransParent serves the greater St. Louis metropolitan region. And the parents featured in this podcast come from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life, but have faced similar challenges. Some of these challenges have been well documented. For instance, we know that transgender people can experience a range of traumatic emotions including anxiety and depression, due to feeling different, or not understood.

The purpose of this four part series is to gain a better understanding of parents’ experiences raising transgender youth. You can download the entire series at MOHEC.org, or listen to them individually. Each segment includes a transcript of the audio and has information that accompanies the segment.

In our first segment of this podcast “Little girl who wants to be a boy”, I talk with Jen who is in a military family. As Jen explains, there are few resources for parents on raising a transgender child, and moreover, the very health care providers that you might think can help you, don’t always have the answers either. And sometimes, the best resource that you have is Google. Here’s Jen.

 

Jen:

My name is Jen and I have one child. He is seven years old. He was assigned female at birth and around the age, I would say, two and a half, three, he started exhibiting some behaviors that indicated that he preferred boy things. So he wanted to play with boy toys, dress in boy clothes, um, refused to wear girl’s clothes. Didn’t want anything to have to do with dresses, no frills, no pink, no laces, no butterflies. And that was the first indication that something wasn’t quite right. Then, it was the request of shortening the hairstyle and when we did allow him to cut his hair, you could tell that there was a dramatic difference in the way he looked at himself in the mirror. I describe it as this, this rooster or peacock emerged from this child. Where before his hair was not a favorite thing of his. There were several indications that led up to the point of social transition. One of them was stuffing his pants with toilet paper. Another one was having dreams of actually living as a boy and smiling in his dreams. I would go and wake him up in the morning and he would be smiling and I would gently wake him up and then ask him, “Wow! That must have been a great dream”. And he was, yep, he was saving the world. He was a boy power ranger. He would play house with his friends, but he was never a female role. He was always the dad, or the brother. The refusal one day to wear a dress, which led into a big argument between him and I, as early as, I want to say this was around four years old, three and a half, four years old, and me asking him, you know, “Just put on the dress, who cares what you’re wearing”. And he said, “But, Mom, I care”. So that was another defining moment for me. So after a couple of years of this, I started to research. I had no idea what transgender meant but I was aware that there were members of our society that felt that they were in opposite gender roles. So, I did a Google search, little girl who wants to be a boy and transgender popped up and that’s when I first started to realize that we were maybe looking at this path for our child. So, at the age of six, I was lucky enough to find TransParents in St. Louis area and it was refreshing to know that other people were still on this journey, or going through this journey. Shortly after that, I bit the bullet and asked my son, if he would like to change his name from a female name to a male name and he said, “Yes”. And I went, “Oh, boy”. What do we do now? But, he had already been for a year before that before I had asked him about the name change. He had already been asking me if I could address him as my son instead of my daughter and he had already looked like a typical boy, so people were already calling him Buddy, or him, or he and we just got to the point where we weren’t correcting it. So, at the point of social transition those really when it gets very difficult for parents to absorb what’s happening and let others know. The coming out process is extremely difficult for family members at any age. So being that we’re a military family, health care is very frightening for me because we get seen by new pediatrician that’s in rotation. Every year we get assigned a new pediatrician for our son. And you never know what kind of reaction you’re going to get by each new health care provider. I’m almost afraid to take him in for an ear ache. I would rather wait it out and see if he is going to get well on his own than take him in to have to explain, yet, to another person who could be judgmental of our situation, or cause us any trouble with being in the military.

 


 

Amy:

This is our second segment of our MOHEC podcast series exploring parents’ experiences raising transgender, or gender nonconforming youth. In this segment, we hear from Laurie and Ken, who are married and the parents of three children. One of whom is a transgender young man. In talking with them, it is clear that parenting a transgender child can be scary, but it doesn’t always stay that way. In relating their experiences, Laurie explains why hormone therapy, or the use of blockers, is so important to young children and their families. And Ken gives insights on parenting a transgender child and interfacing with the health care system from a father’s perspective. There may be terms in this segment, or in others that are unfamiliar to you. Ken refers to the terms cisgender, which means people who are not transgender. And this term and others are explained in more detail online at MOHEC.org. First let’s hear from Laurie

What does it mean to be a parent of a transgender child?

 

Laurie:

It’s a roller coaster. It’s scary. It’s so different than the other two. The fears are not the same at all. At first, it, it’s a loss. Many, many people describe it as if, their child has died. And my husband says, it’s as if, you’re child has died, but is right there next to you still. So, it’s really more the death of the dreams. This was his only daughter. He thought he would walk her down the aisle someday. And he’s sad about that. And for me, it was all the things I thought a mother daughter would do together. And never really got to do because he never really acted like a typical girl. So, that’s the initial big thing, is the mourning, the fear, the isolation, if you don’t know anyone else, or if you cannot find health care, professionals that are knowledgeable. So many are not. That’s a scary place to be as a parent. You figure something’s wrong with my child. I’ll go to a medical professional and they’ll have the answers. And they don’t. It’s scary. I’ve learned that we’re the teachers. And, I don’t look at medical personnel in the same way I used to. I think a lot of people look at them as God. Their decision, or their answer is it and you don’t question that. And I don’t believe that at all anymore. I feel like I have found a few professionals throughout the country that I rely on. And, I do my best to share their information with the people that directly treat my child. And fortunately, that has worked well. The communication between the professionals, but it is a teaching. The doctor that we saw for blockers and that we see now for testosterone, we were her second patient. So, she didn’t know a lot. We were lucky, I think that’s probably the right word, lucky, that we found her and that she agreed to treat our child and do it timely, so that we didn’t have to go through puberty and did it well

 

Amy:

What hopes do you have for your son?

 

Ken:

Oh! The hopes that I think every father have for every son. You know, that he’ll have a wonderful happy life. And I think he will. It took me a long time to get to that point, where I thought he would. But, I’m now certainly there.

 

Amy:

What has been your experience kind of navigating the health care system with your son?

 

Ken:

I don’t think that we’ve had a lot of problems with the health care system. I think we’ve been fortunate. We’ve had a wonderful pediatrician when the kids were young. Not that he was very helpful with any knowledge about the issues of transgender children, but he was more than willing to accommodate us and try to work with us. They didn’t have any answers for us either. And so that was a struggle because we really didn’t know where to go to find out answers. We didn’t even really, you know, you’re not sure whether you should even be asking the questions. You don’t want to be asking the questions. I don’t know that he could have been more, well at the time I don’t think he could have been more helpful, but we, we need to find a way to educate doctors about the issues of transgender children. And to have a way that enables, especially pediatricians, I think, to talk to parents, to engage in the conversation. I don’t know how that could be affected, but, because I can see how it difficult that would be for a doctor to try and engage somebody in that conversation who’s not ready to hear it. But, I think that it’s critical that we educate the doctors and at least, get what these kids are going through. And what tools they have at their disposal to actually help these kids.

 


 

Amy:

In our last segment of this podcast series we hear from Kim, who is co-founder of TransParent St. Louis. Kim’s youngest child also identified with his opposite gender when he was very young. And as we’ll hear next, the journey that her family has taken hasn’t always been easy. Both with the health care system and with each other. Here’s Kim.

 

Kim:

As far as health care and our experience with doctors and physicians, overall it’s been good. I think, you, initially, I went to my pediatrician and sent my child out of the room and said to my pediatrician, “She’s telling me she’s a boy”. With all this bottled up anxiety, tried to say that as calmly as I could to him, not, not knowing what he would say back to me, and he said keep plenty of girl toys and boy toys in the house. And he sent me on my way. And that was when my child was three and I left feeling like that’s not the answer. Like that’s, that’s not going to be the answer here. And about a year later, when my child was four, I went back to the pediatrician and insisted on an ultrasound to see if my child had an ovary and uterus and to do hormone tests, blood work. I just insisted because something had to be driving him telling me, you know, that he was in fact a boy. And they did all of those tests and everything came back normal. There was really nothing that they were going to do for me, four year old, and so, we sought out a therapist in St. Louis. And at that time, I didn’t know of any that were treating four year olds, so I had to go to someone who had only worked with adults and it really was, we did not get probably the best advice for our child and were told to just wait and see and don’t give him any of the things that he was asking for.

 

Don’t cut his hair, don’t change his name, give him a couple of pairs of boys pants and clothes and let him wear them in his bedroom, but don’t let him wear them outside of the house. You know it would instigate bullying and teasing and… So our child was sort of living one life inside of our house, but not outside, which is a very difficult place, I think, to put a child. To try to live this dual kind of life. And he just became more and more depressed and more and more filled with anxiety. And, we did that for several years before at the age of six, we did reach out to a doctor in California, therapist in California, who finally put us in touch with a doctor in St. Louis that had experience with children, a therapist. And she said, you need to let him transition. He knows who he is. And to make him live his life as a girl would be cruel and inhumane and you to give him a boy name and boy clothing and a boy haircut. And you need to find a school that is accepting, of him. And that was actually a relief for me to get that permission. I guess as a parent, I was sort of, cause he was so young, I was waiting for somebody to tell me, you should do this. Even though, deep inside of me, I knew it’s what he needed. For some reason without that permission from an expert somewhere, I didn’t feel like I could make that decision on my own. So it’s almost liberating, I guess, to me. And one of my biggest fears was, what if he feels differently when he’s older? What do we do then? We’ve made all these changes and she said, “He’ll know that he can walk back through that door because you let him go through it once”. So in other words, it wouldn’t be a big deal, if we made all of these changes, let him live the life of a boy and then he determined later that that wasn’t exactly right. It wasn’t this big deal that I had built up in my mind. So in terms of insurance, I have heard that the experience of other people, you know, if you change the gender marker…For example, if my son goes to be a male on his birth certificate, then insurance is not going to cover hysterectomy that he will require at eighteen.

 

Amy:

What would you like to say to health care providers?

 

Kim:

I would say, that you have the power to make the lives of everyone of these children better, by voicing your support for these kids, by figuring out how to acknowledge these kids through paperwork and forms that are in your offices. I think, that if we’re going to through the medical community, only promote this binary gender model, that we’re asking for trouble for these kids. We’re not acknowledging that they exist. There’s more to biological gender than male and female. There’s inner sex, there’s ambiguous, none of this is talked about, or put out there for the general population to look at gender any differently than male or females. So as long as these forms don’t acknowledge kids like mine, it’s sort of setting him up to be viewed as, not normal. And to me, I just don’t think that the medical community realizes the impact that they could have for these children to make their lives easier. So all the people, you know, a handful, but the people that have rejected my son, and it almost, the kids that have rejected him, it’s coming from the parents. And if those parents took their child to the doctors and every time they had to check them in they had to look at the options for gender, they would have to reconsider, the things that they’re thinking about my child because there would be potential options there for gender identity and biological gender and I just don’t that the medical community realizes the power that that could have for these kids and ending bullying, and negative attitudes. As if the medical community doesn’t acknowledge them on their forms, all of these parents, it, it sends a message. If you don’t fit in these two boxes there is something seriously wrong with you. To me that’s, that’s a significant thing that they could do. And obviously, those two boxes are not, they don’t encompass gender. What we know about gender. And all of the variations of gender.

One Response to “Podcast Transcripts: Summary”


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.