It’s time to understand that transgender children are part of the equation.

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”

wp-1513569478813771858585.jpegMemories 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.

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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

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“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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor and family support their transgender child!

 

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APastor Christopher Bruesehoff, pictured with his daughter  Rebekah who began her transition from male to female as early as the age of two years old.

 

It’s who God created her to be !

Pastor and wife support their transgender child.

  By Rach Hardesty 

 

A Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and his wife Jamie recently told The Daily Mail that their son, Ben is now their daughter. Her name is Rebekah, and she has been in transition for eight years.

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“Rebekah has always been gender non-conforming. As young as two or three she gravitated to typically feminine things” Jamie explained. ” By the time she was seven all of this hit a crisis point-her anxiety was crippling and her depression was becoming life threatening.”

“We were faced with a seven-year old kid who wanted to die. One time she punched out the screen of her second story window and tried to jump out,” she said.

Following the advice of their family doctor and counselor the family decided to allow their son to transition into their daughter.

With the help of a gender specialist, Rebekah was able to peel back the layers, and that’s when her family were able to understand. They discovered that see wasn’t a boy who liked pink she was a girl, reads the Daily Mail report.

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This amazing story is one that really touched my heart. So many of us have, and do grow up in homes that are not accepting, and we do sometimes lose family relationships  as a result of Transphobia. I know of many families that have been torn apart due to a lack of understanding of transgender people, misconceptions, fear and religion, and/or moral dogma. My birth family was one of them, and religious dogma was at the core.

Jamie went on to explain in the interview, that Rebekah had always gravitated to feminine things. Identifying her as gender non-conforming.

“We were faced with a seven-year old kid, that wanted to die.” Punching out the screen of a second story window and trying to jump out, describes behavioral pathways that almost always lead to greater issues.

Dr.Kenneth Zucker long acknowledged as a foremost Authority on gender identity issues in children, has also been a life long advocate of gay and transgender rights believes that gender dysphoric pre-pubertal children are best served by helping them align their gender identity with their anatomic sex. This view ultimately cost him his 30 year director ship of the child youth and family gender identity clinic.( GIC) at the center for addiction and mental health in Toronto.

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His critics say that the growing trend to quickly diagnose and affirm young people as transgender, often sending them down a path of what they feel is unnecessary surgeries, and or hormonal treatments which have not been proven safe in the longterm represent significant risk of harm for young people.

According to Dr. Johanna Olsten- Kennedy  an adolescent  medicine specialist at children’s hospital Los Angeles a leader in pediatric gender transitioning.

She states that”it should be left up to the child what constitutes harm based upon their own thoughts and feelings.”

In the “overall view of gender development and gender non- conformity in children and adolescents,” Falcon and Olsen Kennedy dismiss the binary model of human sexuality as ” Ideology” and present an” alternative perspective” of “enate gender identity” that presents along a gender continuum. They recommend that pediatricians tell parents that a child’s “real gender is what he or she feels it is because af child’s brain and body might not be on the same page.”

In July the Bruesehoffs went to court and legally changed their daughter’s name from Ben to Rebekah. Jamie told the outlet that the next step is puberty blockers. As far as surgery Jamie says” that’s a decision for her to make down the road.

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Jamie, Rebekahs mom now runs a blog called I am totally that mom, helping others to understand transgender people through her family’s journey of being a Trans Parent raising a transgender child. “It’s who God created her to be.

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When family’s come together and reach out for help, especially for people who are transgender, amazing results can happen. Over coming life’s obstacles and fear of the unknown, can open doors to unique and rich life experiences. That often do make our relationships stronger and helps to build confidence.

Finding good resources for trans people can be tricky sometimes due to the overwhelming lack of data, inexperienced council, and miss information about rapidly changing laws and policies effecting transgender people.

The Bruesoffs family set a great example of parents who reached out to get the help they needed to navigate this gender nonconformet continuum, and love their child Rebekah.