Bathroom Bills and Advocacy

People pack a hallway outside a Washington Senate hearing room, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., as they wait to listen to public testimony regarding a bill that would eliminate Washington’s new rule allowing transgender people use gender-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms in public buildings consistent with their gender identity. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) WATW101

People pack a hallway outside a Washington Senate hearing room, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., as they wait to listen to public testimony regarding a bill that would eliminate Washington’s new rule allowing transgender people use gender-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms in public buildings consistent with their gender identity. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) WATW101

I went to the Washington state capitol and attended the hearing for state bill 6443. It was the first time I have ever attended a government meeting to protest a bill. It was very scary for me, but I was so glad I went. State bill 6443 seeks to strike down a state policy which grants transgender people the right to use the public restrooms or changing rooms which align with their gender identity.

Why would I take the day off and go clear down to Olympia to stand in a packed line of people for almost 2 hours to protest this bill? Because my son is transgender and has identified as such since he was 3 years old. For the past 5 years he has lived as a boy despite being born with female anatomy. Our family is originally from Utah where there are no laws protecting the rights of transgender people. The reason our family relocated and left our entire extended family to come to Washington state was because of the protections afforded to our son here. Like any other parent, my wife and I are trying to do the best we can to protect our children from pain and discrimination so they can live full and happy lives.

It was extremely difficult for me to sit in the hearing and listen to the proponents of the bill describe their fears. Some said they were upset with the process used to put the restroom policy in place. Others claimed this new policy would ruin their gym business because their patrons would cancel their membership if they knew “men” were able to go into the women’s locker room. Others even claimed sexual assaults in bathrooms around the state would skyrocket. A 14-year-old girl said she is now frightened to use the locker room at school for fear should have to see a “boy’s penis”. And others claimed their mentally disabled children would be at higher risk for violence and sexual assault as well.

As I listened to the testimony, all I could hear was fear from those testifying in favor of the bill. I thought about their motivations to show up that day with their families and children. I thought about the origins of their fears. A common thread through all the comments was a fear of transgender people, especially transgender women. I believe that fear is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be transgender. This bill perpetuates that misunderstanding by labeling transgender people as sexual deviants, predators, rapists and perverts.

I am not a transgender person myself, so I don’t pretend to understand everything and I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have learned a lot about what it means to be a transgender person. It is not about sex; it is about a person’s sense of self, their identity. It is the way a person sees themselves. It is not about sex or sexual attraction. Who a person is attracted to sexually is separate from their gender identity. A transgender woman could be attracted to other women or to men. A gender variant or gender queer individual could be attracted to any other type of person. It is this distinction I think that most people don’t understand. I didn’t understand it until I had a transgender son.

All of this fear of restroom violence is interesting because statistics show that transgender people (especially transgender women) are much more likely to be victims of violence. I personally know several transgender people who have been attacked in restrooms without provocation simply because of the way they look. This is what it all comes down to for me as father. I want my child to be safe. I want everyone to be safe and have access to the restroom and changing rooms of their choice without fear of violence, intimidation, and harassment.

Many states, cities, towns, and school boards are considering policies, rules, and laws limiting the rights of people to use the restroom and changing rooms they choose. If you live in one of these cities, states, or school districts, now is the time to take a stand to protect some of the most vulnerable among us. It is time to value the lives of all people, whether they are gay, straight, cis-gender, or transgender. Please reach out to your elected officials and tell them you do not support these kinds of bills. And if you still are not sure if you support them or not, please take a moment and find a place in your heart for my son as well as your own loved ones. Take a minute and try to have some empathy. Take some time to read first-hand about the lives of transgender people. If you don’t know where to go to learn more, I am more than happy to share some books, videos, and articles.


Another Birthday Milestone

I am the father of a transgender boy.
It was his birthday today and a happy one! He had a great day. It feels like this past year has been a tremendously hard-fought journey. We have gone from using female pronouns and his birth name, to now living completely as a boy in all aspects of his life (home, school, swimming lessons, extended family, etc).
We normally create a family video every year which chronicles our adventures throughout the year in pictures and video. In putting together the video for last year, I saw a video of us singing happy birthday to him on his 6th birthday. We sang “happy birthday dear Eva/Chris”. It made me cringe for Chris. My wife and I debated whether to put it in the video or not. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. But, in the end, we decided it was part of his journey. We wont teach him to be ashamed of the past it is a part of him. Plus, we figure he will forgive us for not knowing how to support and help him at first. It took us a while to figure out how. So, we left it in and watched the final cut tonight for his birthday dinner. When that scene came up, he just said “that’s when you didn’t know what to call me”. It was like he was saying “I have always known who I am, but you took a long time to figure it out…” His comment gave me hope. He will forgive his parent’s ignorance and recognize our willingness to empathize and accept him just the way he is.
Most days Chris just lives his life as a happy little boy. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him being transgender, but I am sure I don’t know what he goes through on a daily basis. I wish he wouldn’t have to deal with the issues he faces. I wish he didn’t have nurses come out and call for “Eva!” when he goes to see the doctor (even though we have asked them to call him by his preferred name). I wish kids (and adults) didn’t stare at him on the weekends when he puts in his skull earrings. I wish kids at school didn’t feel it was their responsibility to inform all substitutes and other people that he “used to be a girl and is now a boy”. I wish I could take that away. It’s sad he has to live with the stress and anxiety of everyone telling him he is “different”. All I can do is try to help him see and hold on to his wonderful, priceless individuality while believing in the unconditional love we feel for him. I hope this coming year we can build on his confidence, so despite the setbacks and despite what happens in the future, he will always believe in himself.

Letting Our Family Know About Chris

I am the mother of an affirmed male.  I have avoided writing on this blog because sometimes I feel that denial is the best route for me to take in order to deal with everything that is going on in life.

Our family moved away from the state that both my husband and I were born and raised in about a year and a half ago.  We left our family and friends because we wanted to start over.  We also wanted Chris to be raised in a place that would be more accepting and also have laws to protect him.  We didn’t tell family that this was a huge part of the motivation for us to move. They didn’t know what was going on with Chris.  They only knew that he dressed and acted different.  We moved away from everyone and in a way we pretty much hid from family and we didn’t involve them with what we were going through with Chris.

After transitioning Chris in school two months ago we decided it was time that we inform our family.  We wanted to be able to talk and interact with them and not have to be so careful about what we said and what pronoun we used when we spoke to them about Chris.

We decided it would be best to mail a letter.  We didn’t want email because we didn’t want people hitting “reply all” with their comments. So we wrote this letter and included with it a recent family picture.  It felt good to let our family know.We didn’t know what the response would be since most of our extended family are quite religious and conservative. My husbands family responded with support and love. There were a few kind and supportive responses by my family and a few have just remained silent.  Nothing negative has been said to us about Chris and for that we are very grateful.

Here’s the letter we sent.

Dear Family,

We have some big news to share, so we thought it best to write you personally. Our child, who you know as Eva, has shared since she was 2 or 3 years old that she feels she is a boy. Not that she wants to act like a boy or play boy games, but she feels in her heart and mind she is a boy. Through long and careful exploration, discussion, prayer, therapy, family talks and careful self-reflection, we learned we are not the parents of a little girl, but the parents of a little boy. So, we are proud and excited to introduce a new but old member of our family, Chris! Chris, as he is known now by everyone in our neighborhood and school, is now living full time as a boy. He is unbelievably happy and comfortable about this big change and so are we. We are proud and humbled he decided to share his deepest truth with us. As you are a very important part of our lives, we decided to also share this truth with you.

We understand this may be confusing for some of you. We also felt that way in the beginning. For years now Chris has told us how he feels inside with the words he knew. “I wish Heavenly Father had made me a boy,” was our first introduction to the subject when he was only around two and a half. There is plenty of information available about transgendered children – we invite you to explore this information as we have. Organizations such as TYFA (, Gender Spectrum ( and Gender Diversity ( have quite a bit of information on the internet. There are several good books on the subject. We recommend: “The Transgender Child” by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper, and “Gender Born, Gender Made” by Diane Ehrensaft. You may also be aware of several TV programs on the subject such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper, ABC News, Oprah and 20/20 with Barbara Walters.

Our friends and the school have been extremely helpful and supportive of Chris. We are extremely lucky to have an understanding kindergarten teacher, first-grade teacher and school counselor working with our family. They have changed pronouns, gender marker and names at the school to help Chris with the transition at school and with classmates.

We understand that you will mourn the loss of Eva as we have, but we request you welcome Chris fully as part of our family. Please refer only to Chris with male pronouns (he, him) and by his name Chris. Despite any personal reservations you may have about this decision, we expect you will be fully welcoming, respectful and kind to Chris. It is extremely important to us, to Chris and his well-being. All the experts we have consulted on this subject agree this is the right approach for maintaining Chris ‘s mental health and happiness long-term. Transgendered kids are much more prone to suicide, depression and self-harm when they don’t have the support and love of their family.

If you need some time to process this information, we understand, but if you are having difficulty such that you cannot engage with us or our son Chris lovingly and respectfully, we ask that you refrain from contacting us until you are able to do so. Regardless of religious belief, all of us parents want our children happy and safe. Our love and support for Chris is complete. We hope yours will be also.


Our Gender Odyssey

I am the father of a trans boy.

This past summer we decided to attend the Gender Odyssey Conference as a family. My wife and I weren’t sure at first if we wanted to attend. We thought maybe it wasn’t geared toward younger kids enough. But, after talking to other parents who had attended in the past, we decided to register. We were scared getting there on the first day. We weren’t sure what to expect. We were all pleasantly surprised!

The kids went to the day camp each day. There, they listened to stories, got their faces painted, made puppets, dressed-up in costumes, etc. They had so much fun. Each day when we picked them up they had stories to tell and kept asking if we were going back the next day. It was great. They stayed busy and happy. That’s all a parent could ask for.

For us as parents, the workshops and presentations were tremendously valuable and emotionally draining. I learned some valuable tools to help navigate complicated situations. I shared my feelings and difficulties with other fathers. I cried, shared stories, and most importantly found countless strangers completely ready to embrace our child and empathize with our family.

One of the greatest parts of the conference was meeting other trans men and trans kids. We heard their stories. We heard their successes and challenges. It was amazing. It was helpful. It was sometimes painful. We were both so glad we could attend.

To cope with the emotions of each day, we decided to take a walk and decompress once we arrived home. We talked about what we learned and how it applied to Chris and our situation. It helped us chart a course and share our fears. I feel so lucky and fortunate to have such an amazing wife and a great support system. I am so glad we found Aiden Key and the Gender Odyssey conference.

We are planning to return. We owe it to Chris to get all the help and support we can. He deserves the best.


(For the sake of simplicity, we decided to refer to our child as Chris. It just makes writing easier.)

I am the Dad of a gender variant child. Today I feel gratitude for an expanding community of support. We recently moved to this area a year ago and we were lucky to find a transgender kids family support group. The group has helped us navigate some of the hardest issues regarding our child’s health and safety.

The group meets once a month. We bring our whole family. The kids play together and the adults meet separately. Parents discuss their recent struggles and successes. The facilitator, a trans male (born female), is amazingly resourceful, knowledgeable, kind and helpful. He is the one who taught us about the Genderbread Person. He shares his personal experiences. He contributes his expertise in working with healthcare professionals in the area. It is great.

The parent discussions are informative and sometimes overwhelming. Talk of hormone/puberty blockers, hospital politics and endocrinology are sometimes just too scary. I tend to listen and just think “we will cross those bridges when we come to them”. It helps me retain some perspective. Mostly I just think that is something we may or may not have to deal with. It is good to get some exposure to those ideas and hear how others are navigating through those tough decisions. Since Chris is only 6, it is just too early to deal with those things.

My lifeline is the parents we meet. There are several with kids around Chris’ age who are affirmed males as well. Some are affirmed females as well. It is really a relief and a huge help to have someone to talk about our struggles. We share stories, find a shoulder to cry on and laugh as we watch them play together. It really has been great for us as parents. Without the help of everyone there, we wouldn’t have the confidence we needed to work with the school and with our family and friends to educate and advocate for Chris.

Today at our meeting as we sat chatting with other parents, countless people (adults, teens, kids) walked by and said “hi” to Chris. After a while we looked at him and said “Wow! You are a famous kid!” Everyone here knows you!” A giant, ear-to-ear smile grew across his face. It melted my heart. I feel enormous gratitude to all the volunteers, families and kids who help make our child feel loved, accepted and safe. It has made all the difference in his life.