22 February 2010

TransYouth Family Allies

I have added this very important resource to my trans links list, after spending some time with its director, Kim Pearson, in recent weeks. My first meeting with her was over a lunch in Las Vegas during the New Year's weekend, and my second meeting was in Sherman Oaks last week during her weeklong Los Angeles visit.

Mrs. Pearson is based out of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, but travels extensively throughout North America to advocate for a better life for transgender/gender-variant children and their families. She is driven by a desire to give her own trans son a shot at a happy life; the son, born in a female body, first identified as a lesbian by age 13, but by age 14 was identifying as a man, and having been allowed to fully assert his male identity, has shaken off all the mental and academic problems that had been plaguing his life as a girl. (This son is turning 18 soon.) This story often repeats with the families Pearson works with - children who bloom into very happy delights when allowed to live in their preferred gender role.

She especially works closely with the Romero family in Arizona, whose daughter, Josie, 8, was featured in a National Geographic Channel documentary. When the Romeros tried to raise Josie as Joseph, all hell broke loose; even getting dressed for school was a riot, and getting Joseph to engage in any "male" activities was an exercise in frustration. Joseph also had to take seventeen different medications for "behavioral problems." But Josie, now medication-free, is one of the happiest children I've ever seen. She is a total delight. Yes, she still has a penis (she herself makes it clear), but some new therapies, such as puberty blockers, may buy Josie some time as she plots her teenage and adult life. I hope that she will grow up into a lovely, happy, well-adjusted woman, and that her story will serve as an inspiration for other families with trans children.

I got to know Kim Pearson via Facebook - and I am very proud to call her my friend, and to financially support her organization.

I am reminded that some of what's available to the likes of Josie are simply not available to someone of Sarah's (and my) generation. Although I decided to cut out Sarah's teenage years for the most part, referring them only through flashbacks, this approach may need to change. There will certainly be a huge struggle, between Sarah's desires to become a girl, her disgust at all the male developments of her body, her troubles in school, and her parents' struggle to understand and come up with a solution; given that the Internet was not widely available back then, information gathering may be a challenge (America Online was available around 1993, but its proprietary content most likely would not have had anything related to trans youth). What I also need to think about is how the trauma that Sarah had experienced as a teenage boy, would translate into some incidents later on in life, be they at her community college, at her early jobs, or at her flight attendant job. I may need to even throw in an early incident where her just-started flight attendant career is put at risk, due to a passenger's conduct suddenly bringing up past traumatic memories for Sarah.

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