Editor’s Note: I was sitting at the dining room table today playing a computer game when I decided to let Conner have her way and give you a message. I thought her words were really thought provoking. I’ve done minimal editing (spelling, grammar, tense usage, etc). It was interesting for me to hear some of her concerns too. I hope you enjoy her words.
Hi, this is Conner. You’ve probably read about me. My life is amazing with my mom, dad, brother, dog, and kitten. My life is interesting. That’s why I let my mom share it with you.
My life can be hard because I feel like I have to keep a special secret about myself. I have to be careful about the friends I make.
Sometimes I lose them.
People think I’m different. They think I’m weird or scary. Trust me. I’m not scary. I’m one of the most loving people my mom knows.
I do feel different. Being transgender isn’t easy. I feel like I have to keep quiet about myself. It can take time before I feel comfortable letting my class know about me. Some of my best friends can know right away because they love me for who I am.
I worry that a different president will have a different opinion about transgender kids. I’m afraid that they won’t let transgender kids BE transgender. That makes me worry about the future.
I’ve had wonderful teachers in the past. They supported me. They loved me. They checked in with me. They let me use the girl’s bathroom at school and they let me play with the girls in gym class. I love my teachers so much. All the way to the moon and back 17 times. That’s how I feel about my best friends too.
I have a really supportive mom, dad, and brother. I know that I live better than other transgender kids because some feel like they have to hurt themselves. I don’t feel that way. I have an awesome family and they support me in all ways. I wish all kids like me had families that supported them.
You can’t just listen to the opinion’s from someone else. You need to meet someone who is transgender and experience how they live and who they are. You can never jump to conclusions about us, or really, about anyone. Please be careful about what you say. It can be really hurtful.
Thank you for letting me say these things. I hope it teaches you about transgender people.
Say what you will about Miley Cyrus but the girl has the ability to accumulate press. And, what I’ve always loved about her, even when her actions made me cringe, is that she didn’t seem to care what other people said or thought. That kind of self-confidence, especially in a girl that age, always blew me away.
But, now she just because my freaking hero.
Have you heard of The Happy Hippie Foundation yet? If not, I want you to finish reading this sentence and take the link to read about it. I’ll be right here when you get back.
Did you read about it? Can you understand why I am moved to tears by her work? She outlines how 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT and how 1 in 3 transgender youth have been turned away from shelters. She has started an organization to directly help homeless youth, LGBT youth, and other vulnerable populations achieve positive outcomes in their lives.
And Miley isn’t just talk. She raised over $200,000 in 24 hours for My Friend’s Place, an organization dedicated to helping homeless youth. I can’t even read their description of homeless youth statistics without getting choked up.
Her marketing is smart. She’ll be having backyard jam sessions with huge names like Joan Jett and posting them on Facebook to help raise awareness. Um, can you get any cooler than Joan Jett??
Somewhere along the way, little Hannah Montana has grown up to be a young woman who has the world’s attention with a voice on very adult issues. Her recent interview in Out magazine painted the picture of a young woman coming into her own with a desire to use her influence to change the world for youth.
I was also excited to share with my kids that Miley is very aware of gender issues and embraces a life free from the boxes we traditionally put people into. From the Out Magazine article:
“Miley says she already spent a lot of time struggling with traditional gender expectations—and being resentful that she was a girl. “I didn’t want to be a boy,” she clarifies. “I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.”
My daughter didn’t know who Hannah Montana was (we missed that by a few years) but she was very aware of who Miley Cyrus was and I wish I could have captured the grin that spread across her face when I shared the news with her. Though my daughter identifies strongly as a female, I have a heart for gender-fluid individuals and feel that they are desperately underrepresented and face even more barriers. I’m so happy that Miley has been open and rather candid about her wish not to be put into a binary box.
Thank you, Miley. I am truly impressed with your work and I’m thrilled that my daughter can call you a role model.
Summer is coming! Summer is coming! For most kids, that brings to mind swimming pools, shorts, tank tops, and no school. For parents of children who have recently transitioned, that means a little bit of panic about finding an appropriate bathing suit. You’re not alone in that fear. It’s a frequent topic on the online support groups around this time of year. There are options for you and your child.
If your pre-adolescent child is a FTM (female-to-male), then it should be a relatively easy task of finding some swimming trunks. There are swimming shirts available if parent or child isn’t quite ready to go bare chested yet. Hopefully, parents can chime in under comments if they have specific suggestions but it seems like most of the stores have swimming trunks and shirts available starting in the spring.
For MTF (male-to-female) kids, finding a suit that covers male anatomy can be a bit of a challenge. We’ve tried most of the big box stores and haven’t had good luck. The skirts are too short to completely cover the bulge. We’ve found Land’s End to be a good place to find skirted bathing suit bottoms. I’ve seen them as one piece suits or two piece. I just checked online and they do have a few styles of suits that would provide good coverage this year (2015). Are they perfect? No. When your child is romping around in the pool with all the other children, could someone possibly see a bulge? Yes, if they are specifically looking for one they might be able to see one. But, we’ve never had a problem with it. Your child is going to look like any other child having fun in the pool. We’ve used the Land’s End bathing suits for going on five years now and we’ve been really happy with them. I stock up when I see them go on sale because some years they have more skirted options than others. This year, I don’t see as many options though they still have a few styles.
Land’s End also has the swim short option. We’ve tried them in the past and we personally have found that they are a little more conspicuous than the skirted suits. I would try them on before purchasing to see if they work for your child.
Another option that I’ve been excited to try is LeoLines on Etsy. She has a whole line of transgender bathing suits and underwear. We haven’t tried them yet, but I’ve heard from other parents that they’re great. Her reviews on Etsy are really high too. We’ve never had a reason to purchase from her because we lived really close to a Land’s End outlet and always had easy access to the skirted suits. But, I want to check her out because I’ve heard such great remarks.
This year, we are also trying something new. We just moved from Florida and our community pool was almost deserted from November – February. There were several times when, if we suspected that the pool or beach would be empty, Conner just wore a regular girl’s bathing suit. Our family has a pool and Conner has decided that if it’s just the family, then she doesn’t necessarily feel the need to wear a suit that covers her bulge. She feels differently around non-family or strangers. But, she’s become a lot more comfortable in her own skin and has embraced the idea of being a transgender girl, which for her, means being a girl with a penis. Now, this is how my daughter feels and I wouldn’t push your child to do the same thing. She approached me about it when we were looking at bathing suits. There have been many days when, even if the pool was empty, she would wear a skirted suit because it makes her feel more comfortable on that particular day. But, every girl needs options, right?
Let me also say this. Most of your fears are unfounded. I was nauseous the first time we went to the pool. I was convinced that everyone there suspected that Conner had male anatomy. Her hair was still pretty short and I was certain that we screamed, “Transgender child,” that day. But, when I stopped to look around, there were lots of little girls with short hair. My kids looked like all the other kids and nobody gave us a second look. Know that your feelings are normal but that it’s probably going to be okay. In the unlikely event that someone would suspect something and ask you, then I’d take the “it’s-none-of-your-damn-business” approach. For me, that would be the cocked eyebrow/incredulous stare followed by, “Excuse me, how is that your business?” That should be enough to shut them down because, really, why are they paying that close of attention?
I look forward to hearing from others about where they go to find good bathing suits for their transgender kids. The most important thing is to help your child feel comfortable. If they don’t like the suit, don’t buy it. If they feel self-conscious, the day at the pool won’t be fun for them or for you. You’re probably going to be nervous the first few times, and so will your child. Don’t let it stop you from going to the pool or the beach. Go have fun. You’ve all earned it.
Image found under creative commons by Gareth on Flickr.