Growing Up Transgender with Jordan and Violet

Jordan is practically my son. I’ve known him since he was in third grade. I’ve been a part of his life since and I experienced the struggles and joys of his transition from female to male and his alignment as he was growing up transgender. He and his friend, Violet, male to female, tell their story with authenticity and honesty as they ask only one thing from the world: accept them for who they are.

On a personal note, nothing was harder for me than knowing every time Jordan had to shower, he was filled with self-loathing. The emotional pain was severe and he struggled with suicide. His parents moved as quickly as they could to learn more and support him in any way that could – even medically – which honestly, involved big decisions.

Unfortunately, the church let them down.

They were all very active in their church and I watched as they were rejected and eventually left. While their journey has taken them to places they never expected, their faith stayed strong and their ability to lift others up who were also struggling, is why they are an important part of my life. As they say, “they are good people”.

Resources below. Message me if you have questions or need support. Oh! And the music you hear at the opening/closing of the show, Jordan created it. Thanks J!

Or listen to the podcast

A few resources about growing up transgender

Ten Things You Can Do to support children who are questioning their gender. Dr. Shane Hill has been an essential support for transgender kids in Santa Cruz and the greater Bay Area. This short list is the very best place to start if your child is asking you to listen.

I worked on the first version of this website, it feels like 100 years ago. For more than a decade this organization has grown and thrives. The new site is beautiful and has many resources – especially for parents – who don’t know where to start or how to support their child.

Jordan mentions, Camp Aranu’tiq is a safe place for transgender kids to feel like themselves. Safe, protected and super normal, this camp really helped save Jordan emotionally. The Boston Globe even showed up to do a story.

ELI Assessment 50% off

 

Workshop at the Santa Cruz Resource Center for Nonviolence

Last Monday Katie started a week of Crunchy Camp – that was her nickname for the workshop she was attending at the Resource Center for Nonviolence called Exploring Your Social Justice Community.

She really enjoyed herself. It turns out it wasn’t a youth workshop (that’s on me, I misread the description) so she was with adults and college students. There was only one other high school student there. But that was okay. She said the other participants were great people; really interesting and different from the folks she runs into every day.

At the end of the week, there was an exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of Modern Art (the MAH) featuring the collaboration projects they worked on during the week. The photos from the event are below. I was kind of surprised and a little impressed. They covered a range of topics and it was fun seeing photos of Katie and crew throughout the week’s events.

A pic of the gang during the workshop.

The good news is the workshop absolutely pushed her thinking. I got a kick out of hearing about her days and the things that happened that she didn’t expect or understand. Unbeknownst to her, I kept a little diary of her comments and observations and thought I would turn them into a quick list of things I learned by sending her to the workshop. I hope you enjoy!


Consensus can lead to missed opportunity.

Katie was stymied by how many times the group had to reach consensus to decide something. The one that really chapped her was the discussion about whether or not they should break early for lunch. As Katie noted, the joke was on them because after trying to reach consensus, the opportunity had passed.

Corollary: Pacifists need hierarchy.
Decisions need to be made, someone needs to be in charge and things need to get moving. Katie’s way more patient than I am about these things, so for her to notice and be bothered by it means it was “noticeable”. One thing about those fascists, I doubt there’s a lot of time wasted on who’s telling whom what to do!

Don’t ever tell your grandmother something shocking while at Whole Foods.
I really wish this was on video. While getting dinner at Whole Foods, with my mom, Katie says rather loudly, “I think I’m a Republican.” To which my mom gasps, then screams “WHAT?!” and nearly falls over. Right there in front of the pizza guy. It. Was. Priceless.

How can gender be unclear?
Katie is super close friends with a transgender boy (I even help them with their blog). They’ve been friends through their childhood and she was with him through transition. But on gender day, when the discussion turned to individuals who don’t identify with one gender or another, this stopped her in her tracks. “I get someone identifies male or female, but how can it be both?,” she asked. Clearly there’s more to be explored here.

Lettuce leaves aren’t salad.
The workshop provided lunch every day. Katie can do vegetarian pretty well (hey – way better than I can) but she ran into some more exotic foods than she’s ever seen around here (or on her travels for that matter). But the thing that really slayed her was the bowl of lettuce leaves at the Life Lab Garden at UCSC that was marketed as salad. “Leaves are not salad,” she stated emphatically. Duly noted.

 

Free first Friday at the Museum.
Things we can do as humans to create change.
Pic of Katie hanging from the tree.
Some thinking tree.
The pic and the pictured!
One of my soapbox issues: rape culture.
Assembled art piece.
Front of her collage.
Back of her collage.
I think this is from the gender discussion.
Slide show with more photos.
Not sure if I like this – she already questions authority.
Yep, that’s the group sign! Outside the exhibit room at MAH.

 

Advocating for Human Rights In Your Own Backyard

Listen2Youth is pleased to support the 15th Annual Queer Youth Leadership Awards in Santa Cruz, California on May 12, 2012.

The Queer Youth Leadership Awards recognizes queer youth and allies across Santa Cruz County for being leaders within their community. Being a leader encompasses many attributes and spans across all disciplines and activities. I have the privilege of knowing one of this year’s nominees, Heidi Koronkowski.

Sometimes leadership chooses you.

Heidi is the mother of a 13-year-old transgender child. In the last few years, I have watched her morph from a private housewife with a rambunctious, sometimes challenging daughter, to an outspoken advocate for human rights as she supported her child’s transition to living as a male. Her unwavering support of her son has taken her down a path she never expected.

Heidi has suffered the loss of several of her friends from church as they concluded they understood God’s plan for her son better than God did. It tested her faith and her trust in what makes a good friendship. And while she and her husband (and amazingly supportive family) did what they needed to do to follow her son’s lead, she redefined her faith and ended up becoming an unassuming role model providing guidance and information for other parents of transgender kids.

Gender doesn’t define us, who we are defines us.

I was a friend of Heidi’s when she had a daughter. I am Heidi’s friend now that she has a son (whom I care about very much). I am thrilled that she, and the Trans Family Support Group, have both been nominated for this year’s Queer Youth Leadership Award. I wish more people could be as open, understanding and adaptive as Heidi has been over the last five years. She’s incredibly down-to-earth and her openness makes her accessible. The fact she’s “regular folk” only adds to her appeal.

At Listen2Youth we have worked with teens of all kinds for years. In fact we named our company Listen2Youth because we were so impressed by their insights and perception. Today, our business has shifted to social media where we talk with our clients’ customers and listen to their insights. We believe everyone has a voice that needs to be heard. Sometimes it means speaking up and taking a stand in your own backyard.

UPDATE: Our dear friend Heid’s group, Trans Family Support Group, has won the 2012 Award. Congratulations to all the winners, nominees and thank you to everyone supporting these amazing folks.