Cover photo nine-year old Avery Jackson on National Geographic January 2016 special edition dedicated to transgender issues around the world.
By Rachel Hardesty
Transgenderismhas changed how we view self-expression, in ways unimaginable, from just ten years ago. The skyrocketing and personal subject of gender identity, has the minds of the general public, looking for answers and nine-year old Avery Jackson just might have a few !
A little girl from Kansas City sat confidently, with her adorable pink stretchies, and fun colors in her hair. A proud to be trans stance while she looks at America, through the lens of a camera held by Robin Hammond in a portrait shot for the cover of Nat Geo.
She tells about her amazing transition, as she reflects on her challenges, and inner strength. She is the first transgender, to Grace the cover of a National Geographic. A publication that has been in circulation for over 130 years.
The reaction was as expected, the world went wild with support, for Avery as the story took the internet by storm.
Gender Revolution is what the headline read, and I couldn’t have put it better myself, but she could. Just under the heading is a quote that read;
“The best part of being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy”
Memories began to flood my mind of the construct I had created pretending to be a boy, and how good it felt to not have to do that anymore. .So easily spoken from the young trail Blazer.
Gender Identity has been at the core of an ongoing revolution of how we define ourself in the world. The controversial bathroom issue that Rose from North Carolina put gender identities issues to the fore front of our collective mind. Counselors offices are reporting that there are a tremendous amount of youth today that are “coming out”. A trend that is rendering the conventional ideology’s of gender as obsolete.
Her mom recalls her saying “You call me a boy, you think I’m a boy, but you know I’m a girl on the inside”.
“By putting myself out there, people will be able to know that I am transgender and proud,” she says in the interview she hopes to inspire people to learn more about transgender issues. Learning how to be proud to be trans takes a tremendous amount of courage and time, to overcome many inner battles that being “different” brings.
In an interview on USA Today Avery talks about her experience with going to preschool as a girl. ” When I started to go to preschool, my friends were cool with it , but their parents weren’t”, she goes on to say “they thought it was contagious like transgender pox or something”. “I’m just a normal girl. Your average, everyday normal transgender girl”.
As a transgender woman, and the author of this article, I could totally relate to this 9-year-old girl on subject matter that some full-grown adults struggle to wrap their minds around. It was a refreshing and inspiring. To me it felt like she said things that only i felt , as a transgender woman, and couldn’t find the words to describe.
There is a group of critics that have voiced their discontent for Avery’s parents. They have responded by saying that the Jackson’s are “forcing this on their child”.That they are running out to put their kids on hormones despite the fact that the Jackson’s took every step that they could to provide the best care for their then son.
In some people’s minds there is a total fear of transgender people. That is completely based on bios ignorance. They persist in thinking that transgendered people are somehow going to ruin their child’s life, or that it is a passing fad for some kids, like dressing up in power ranger suits and running around the back yard. Nothing could be more ignorant of the facts.
The story’s of these children are compelling, each story is similar in that these children start having serious depression, and anxiety. They began to have problems to a point of reaching out to a specialist. They followed the advise of the professionals, and did what any parent who loves their kids would do. In fact they have made a huge sacrifice for their child in that they dedicated so much time and effort in to helping their daughter and many other people who are experiencing similar circumstances.
For many of us, growing up in an intolerant home which was the reality. For me it was a very bleak one. I felt that my overly religious mom would never understand. I grew up under the critics example of how to deal with transgender people. The deny me of myself doctrine. Needless to say it doesn’t work. I had such low self-esteem as a direct result. It was largely responsible for an alcoholic drug abuse faze I went through. I was just trying to hide the real me.
In an essay from young Avery’s dad, that was published in the New York Times in the Opinion pages of Transgender today. It was obvious this man is intelligent articulate, and loves his children in a way that his critics could learn from.
Tom Jackson’s essay, Transgender Today NY Times
“We took her to a pediatrician, a child psychologist and a gender therapist. She was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. We were told that allowing her to socially transition to live as a girl was the proper treatment.”
He went on to say the information they could find about gender dysphoria was sparse, but what they did find was disturbing.” Over 50% of transgender children attempt to commit suicide by late teenage years. A large number of them succeed. The main reason that these children state that they try to harm themselves is a lack of love and support of their family. My wife and I decided that we would much rather have a happy, daughter than a dead son”.
He reports that ” in the time since her transition, a spunky and confident little girl has emerged. She is proud of who she is and wants to help other kids.”
Averies mother has become a fears advocate for transgender people. In a speech at the unity temple in Kansas City in July of 2014, Debi gave a speech entitled “That’s good enough.” It was aired on the Kansas City Listen to your mother show.
Speech from Debie Jackson.
She shares the story of Avery’s transition, and challenges the ignorant comments she hears about her transgender child.
1. Some say they are liberals pushing a gay agenda.
Answer: Nope she’s a Southern Baptist conservative from Alabama. She says with a chuckle in the background.
2. Some say she wanted a girl so they tried to turn their then son into one.
Answer: no they desperately wanted boys she says.” The idea of raising a girl in today’s world scared me to death. The idea of raising a good boy who knows how to treat girls well, than to be responsible for a girl who may only be interested in dating bad boys.
3. Kids have no idea what they want or who they are. My kid wants to be a dog should I let him?
Answer: It’s up to you but I wouldn’t. There’s a profound difference between wanting to be something in an imaginary play and declaring who you are insistently consistently and persistently. Those are the three markers that set transgender children apart, and my doctor says our daughter displayed all three of them.
4. Kids shouldn’t have to learn about sex at such a young age.
Answer: I agree good thing being transgender has nothing to do with sex.
Gender identity is how a person views themselves on the inside, and it is completely separate from who we are attracted to.
5. Transgender people are perverts and shouldn’t be in the bathroom with normal people.
Answer: I don’t know what you go in there for but it isn’t to look around. It’s to go in to a stall and pee where know one else can see her.
A tear began to swell as she read number Six!
6. God hates transgender people ! There a sinner and going to hell!
Answer: My God taught us to love all others, Jesus sought out people who others rejected. She quotes 1st Samuel 16:7 The Lord said to Samuel ,”do not consider his appearance or his hight for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. My daughter is a girl in her heart,she knows it, God knows it, and that’s good enough for me.