Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dear 14-years-old me, you're going to be just right for her

DeShanna at 14

Dear 14 years-old me,

Right now, you don't know that you're going to be a mother one day. All that you know is that you are struggling to hold a smile because of deep seated depression. A depression you dare not express to anyone because there's no reason for it. Right now, you're questioning if living matters, if you'll get into college. If you'll succeed in life so that your future will be better than your past and present. What you're not thinking about is being a mother.

You are struggling with eating because staying thin is the only thing you control. You wonder why the friends you have even like you and you hide so many other feelings. You contemplate a future but it's often bleak and filled with unknowns. But what you never imagined was being a mother.

And how could you?

You didn't like kids. You never wanted them. You knew for certain you'd be the worst kind of mother.

My dearest 14 years-old self, I'm here to tell you, that in 8 years you will be given that child you didn't think you could mother.

And I have news for you, 14 years-old me. In four years, she'll change your world. She'll tell you she's a girl and not a boy. She'll be a transgender child.

That may feel like too much and you'll laugh incredulously at the concept that you, the depressed, faking, starving, kid hating, teenager could possibly handle such a journey.

But know this. You will. You'll fight battles and stand with her. You'll advocate and find a strength you didn't know you had. That you believe you never had. You will love her fiercely.

You will do it. Because you, the one who believes you couldn't be a mother. Any mother. You will be her mother and you are going to be just right for her.

Thanks for not giving into the darkness 14-years-old me. 36-years-old you is glad you didn't.

P.S. We have FOUR amazing children who are changing the world.

Always together,


Monday, July 3, 2017

Why Do They Keep Killing Us? #SayTheirNames

The question posed by Trinity. She's only 13 and yet she knows that her world is not as innocent as she once thought it to be. She wants to know. I want to know. Tell us. Why have 15 trans people, mostly transgender women of color, been killed this year? Why are we seeing this? Tell us. Tell them. Tell her.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ally is a verb

I never considered myself an ally. When Trinity said she was a girl and we listened to her, I didn't see that as anything other than being a parent loving their child regardless of who they were or loved. And to be honest, being new to the journey of raising a transgender child, my soul was far too sensitive to try and fight those against her and our family's choice.

But that was then....

And this is now and I've become what is known as an advocate. But more than that. I'm an ally. 

Ally is often referred to as a noun in our English dictionary, but for me, and many others that I look up to, it's a verb. 

Being an ally, means working hard to amplify and uplift the voices of marginalized groups without centering. This can be a difficult task and often gets lost. Being an ally, however, means getting lost often and learning from that moment. It means being uncomfortable. It means knowing there are going to be many who will say things that are so hurtful you want to hide in a hole and just protect you and yours. But then, you can't be an ally. You can be an advocate and if that's easiest, that's okay. No one saying it's wrong. 

Don't take that sentiment personal. It's how I feel. I'm simply saying, when you go from advocate to ally, you are usually going from you and yours to all. And yeah, sometimes that means you're going to tick off a few on the way down.

In the end, it does make a difference. For so many, including you and yours. 

Always ready
Leading a new way
Learning from mistakes
Yelling for inclusivity, diversity, and intersectionality


This Thursday evening at 7pm I'll be talking on a live stream for Black Lives Matter Boston. Would love to have many tune in for discussion about being a woman of color raising a transgender teen girl of color. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Updates and a special announcement!

Hi everyone!

It's been busy for me and the family. Trinity is bunkering down hard to get prepared for high school in the fall of 2018. It's a very accepting and affirming place and based primarily for STEM loving students.

Trinity has also been busy becoming bit of a local celebrity here in our little state of Delaware and I couldn't be prouder of seeing her reach so many. Changing hearts and minds is what she does best and it's always an honor to witness that first hand.

If you check out the blog, I have extra links at the top where you can find everything we've done and will be doing in the near future. It's a lot of exciting stuff, let me tell you!

One of the most amazing announcements to share is....*drum roll*

Trin and I are now being represented by Naomi Davis of Inkling Literary Agency for two picture books we wrote together titled, "Trinity's Truth & Trinity's Question". We are SUPER excited!

Trinity was also featured in a two part documentation of her life with our local news paper which was then picked up by USA Today (you can find the link on the Advocacy Work page).

Trin has also started estrogen and I've seen such an amazing change in her behavior. She's confident, stronger (she's always been strong but a pure sense of self), and simply the girl, well young woman, she's always known herself to be. 

On my end, I've been lobbying for LGBTQ  youth and their rights in DC and in my own state, gave testimony to ban conversion therapy. This past Sunday, my state held an Equality march to coincide with the Capitol Pride march in DC. I had the honor of being a guest speaker.

So that's some of everything for now. I'll update as more amazing news happens! Thanks everyone for standing in support for Trinity and our family.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

That Time She Quietly Made History #GenderRevolution #GirlOnFire #BlackGirlMagic #MakingHistory

Trinity is THIRTEEN now. I can't believe it. And this year, will be officially ten years she has lived as her authtentic self. So much has happened in one year that our heads are still spinning but we don't dare stop speaking out and representing a marginalized group within society. I can't possibly express the pride I have when I watch my daughter's presence inspire others.

Recently, she and I got to go to the White House and meet President and First Lady Obama. So amazing of an experience. The First Lady told Trinity that she was beautiful! 

In front of the White House

Also, Trinity was featured in the National Geographic issue on Gender Revolution where it states something not many outside of family and friends knew about. 

Showing her image found in National Geographic

You see, this image is Trinity waiting while her pediatric endocrinologist inputs information before her Lupron injection. This is a medication she receives every three months to suppress puberty. What many didn't know is that her getting to this point did not come easy. In fact, she had to fight for the very medication that would save her from depression, anxiety, and dysphoria. 

Our family is on Medicaid and we weren't sure how this would work in terms of getting the puberty blockers. Truth be told, I assumed it wouldn't be an issue. Yet it was. And we had to fight being denied. And we did. Because I'm a mama bear and my daughter's happiness is everything to me. 

After eight months and several letters AND an appeal hearing later, my daughter not only won, but she also became the first minor in the state of Delaware to be approved by Medicaid to cover her transition. 

History made by a minor. A trans kid of color at that and not many knew. But I knew. Her friends knew. Family knew. Her doctors knew. And she is our hero for sure because of it!

Like that wonderful song by Alicia Keys, Girl On Fire, Trinity, my beautiful girl, is just a girl and she's on fire. Making changes for all and remaining humble and authentic as always.

Credit: Artist Quinn Chen

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Her Mom, Her Champion, Hers Always

When I was a child, I never expected that one day I’d be a mother. Having children of my own was the furthest thing from my mind. I honestly couldn’t envision being responsible enough to raise children. So when the time came that my husband and I were ready to start a family, we vowed to be the best parents we could. We read all the parenting books we could, researched child development articles, and made mental notes of all the milestones we needed to look for. None of these books, however, explained what to do when our three and a half year old child began telling us she was a girl, not a boy. I was a young mother, and new to this world of parenting so my reaction was one part immerse myself in any research I could find, which was little help, and one part freak out and call the doctor.

Luckily my pediatrician was supportive. Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to assist a child expressing a difference in gender identity than the one assigned at birth. Like us, she didn’t know how to handle a transgender child--what we eventually realized our child was--so she sent us to speak with a developmental psychologist. By then, around late 2006-early 2007, our almost four year old child adamantly identified as female, but there weren’t many medical professionals who agreed a young child could be transgender. The ones we did meet with told us our child’s “gender confusion” was a product of me being a stay-at-home mom and my husband not being masculine enough to model proper male behavior. These “experts” quoted studies that were either extremely outdated or bogus research conducted by anti-transgender organizations.

Constant Sadness (Age 3 1/2, 2006)

Being bombarded with less than accepting rhetoric, and as a young mother who constantly doubted myself, almost should have been enough to keep me from truly hearing my daughter. Indeed, I almost listened to this professional. Fear and lacking educational resources nearly had me shut down my child’s insistent, consistent, and persistent declarations. I was almost scared into submission by wild claims about my child’s mental well-being and future happiness I almost stopped her.
Fortunately, that’s not how this path ended. Now, almost ten years later, I am blessed to witness the happiness of my daughter Trinity, as she blossoms into a beautiful young woman.  Every scenario the psychologist laid out—of my child’s inevitable confusion and pain—didn’t happen. And yet, as a mother, who works hard at protecting her while giving her the wings to fly, never would I had realized just how vital my decision to choose her over the naysayers would be.

Finally HER! (age 4, 2007)
Recently, Trinity told me of a dream she had where she found herself lost in a large city. Scared she ran from shadow monsters spewing words of hate in regards to who she was. She explained how she cried and fled, unsure where to turn. She prayed someone would come to help her. It was then, the sky cleared and the monsters turned away, and suddenly dispersed. When she looked to see what frightened them, there I stood. I had my hand held out to her and told her to not worry. I smiled and asked her to be brave, and then led her home.
As my daughter relayed this vivid dream of hers, I experienced a multitude of emotions. I couldn’t form words. So, I did what I’ve always done for her: I listened. Smiling she told me, “My dream reminded me that no matter how many monsters are around me, I have you to show me how to be brave and to lead me home.”

Heading to NY and all smiles

Thinking of Trinity’s dream makes me reflect on my initial uncertainty as how to best support her. She has been my child for thirteen years, my daughter for almost a decade, and I can’t wait to see what the next ten years will bring. The beginning of my journey was filled with people who questioned her ability to speak with such clarity about who she was. Ones who used scare tactics meant to create fear, anxiety, and doubt. Methods that were meant to stop me, and stop her. But I wouldn’t fall.

So I ask new parents to this journey, to just breathe. Some articles will be filled with data that are against children socially transitioning. Some people will make comments that are meant to create doubt.  Don’t let that deter you. I’ve been there as well so do know how acceptance is so very important to trans children. Because for me doing just that, I have been gifted with an amazing kid. This girl of mine has taught me so much more than how to simply parent, but also how to listen with unconditional love. And she has taught me that when she has a world of so many great leaders, activists, and celebrities which she could have looked up to, it’s me she sees as her hero. She has shown me how to be a better parent, and a better person. The person who never gives up on her. The person who she has to turn to. Who see her. The one who will always choose her. My Trinity

My Trinity

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It Takes A Village and My Daughter Has The Greatest One Yet

Becoming a mother has been one of the most exhausting and humbling experiences of my life. Some would say I'm a veteran mom having been gifted four times with some amazing kiddos. And I love them with as much of my soul as humanly possible. However, my younger three sons should give thanks to their big sister, Trinity. She is the one who made me a mother. Coming into my life, I suddenly went from DeShanna to Mom. No, I haven't lost my individuality, I simply, as she likes to say, leveled up in life. When she told me she was a girl at the young age of three, finally socially transitioning at age four, I went from Mom to something far greater than I expected.

You see, raising a transgender child, my first child, took me to a higher level emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I saw in this young person a strength I was often too afraid to show. Her telling me who she was; her authentic self, revealed a side of vulnerability. Someone so small opening her heart in hopes I wouldn't shred it. And I didn't, obviously! I then learned to be strong and humble and vulnerable. Which has helped me a lot during my 13 years of parenting.

Yet, I could never say I did this alone. Perhaps in the beginning, yes, as it was 2007 and there weren't many resources of parents with young transgender children. But now, I have a community, no, I have a VILLAGE and my daughter (along with her brothers) are truly lucky. I'm writing this post to name some (there are so many) who have come into our lives and given my daughter the best chance at life and love in the world.

1. Sarah McBride 

A Delaware Native, like myself, Sarah helped me understand how to fight for my daughter when the time came for her to get the puberty blockers she needed. She is kind and honestly, the "best big sister I ever had"-Trinity. Sarah has done so much for the LGBTQ community and especially reaching out and helping families like ours. I adore her more than she could ever know.

2. Monica Roberts

I met Monica for the first time at the Philly Trans Health Conference and since then, she has been one of the biggest inspirations to myself and Trinity. She has a vast knowledge of history, especially within the transgender community, and gives my daughter the words of encouragement and love that even I can't sometimes provide. You can see just how great she is by going to her blog TransGriot

3. Angelica Ross

After we went public for a video done by Trans United Fund titled "Meet My Child" Trinity caught one of the not nicer comments in response to the video and was hurt. This was really the first time she experienced this and while I tried to tell her not to worry, it didn't seem to help. Angelica Ross spoke with Trinity via Skype and helped my child so very much. When they realized they were also both girls who love to code, there was a bond made. Angelica sparked a fire in my child and her goal became to be a great transgender video game developer. Angelica continues to do amazing things and as my daughter watches, I see her too striving to be just as great.

4. Vanessa and J R Ford

 I've known Vanessa and J R through the online community, but finally got the chance to meet them IRL (In Real Life) recently and I felt like I found a long lost line of my family! They too are the parents of a transgender child so having that connection really helped. They are two amazing people and my children are so lucky to have them part of our village. Trinity is also super best friends (her words) with J R!

5. Debi Jackson

Debi is a fire cracker and fierce advocate. Mother of a trans child as well, she is so very outspoken about the rights our children deserve that you can't help but listen. Some may not agree, but dang it, you WILL listen! Finally getting the chance to meet her as well, I know that if Trinity ever needed it, Debi would be there to call out anyone who had something negative to say. She is working tirelessly to make this world a better place for our children and so many others.

6. Cathy Renna

Cathy and I got to know each other after the launch of the video and while she started off as a publicist, she is now family. My children adore her! They also call her aunty (she didn't know that but after reading this she will!) because that's who she is. She has been there as someone to listen to me when I'm down and lift me up so I can continue to be the advocate for my child and others. She is a true warrior and I'm glad she fell into our lives!

7. Rep. Paul Baumbach (DE-D)

Paul helped me immensely finding a way to get Trinity the proper healthcare she needed to stop puberty. Hearing our story of the fight to get Medicaid to approve her in church, he immediately reached out to me and asked how he could help. That started the friendship and bond we have now. He's been to my daughter's birthday and is by far one of the most genuine and wonderful man I know. He's the reason I take voting so much more seriously now as well!

8. Governor Jack Markell (DE-D)

Gov. Markell met with our family after we had won the battle with Medicaid. This man helped set the protections my state has for LGBTQ people so that they can't be discriminated against. He is authentic, funny, and can really handle when a toddler demands to be picked up and held! I'm so glad he was my state's Governor and that he is now part of our village to keep families like our safe. 

9. Online Community

I have mentioned before that there weren't many places online I could go to and find the information, as well as, support I needed in 2007. That remained relatively true for a long time. Now, I'm thrilled that there are places I can go and vent and have the love and support I need. My daughter has a large community that knows of her and will be there for her if needed. It touches me to see the growth of acceptance for transgender children that I didn't necessarily experience when we started out almost a decade ago. They all know who they are and I love and thank them for welcoming me into their embrace. 

So, that's just some of the ones who have really made my village a wonderful place for myself and my daughter. My whole family really. They've had a hand in shaping us to be who we are now and given us the strength to stand up for what's right. I'm not just a mom, I'm not just an advocate for my daughter, I'm her world and now she has an even bigger one to help guide, support, and love her as she grows up. Thank you all. Thank you so very much for everything.