To bring Transgender Awareness Week to end, I'd like to cite a story which has an upbeat tone.
This story of a northern Idaho family comes out of Spokane, WA.
For most transpeople childhood was a time fraught with peril and alienation. That is increasingly becoming not the case.
Aya Cox seems to have it all together. Aya's parents, Rob and Shannon, say that it has so far been a relatively easy road.
Aya is 8. So far she has been home-schooled.
There wasn't that light bulb moment, we didn't really say, ‘Oh, we have a transgendered child here,'The Cox's say it was all very gradual. Aya asked for princess diapers when she was very young…and liked to play with her mother's clothes. Nobody freaked about that. Then one day when Aya was 7:
Without any coaching, without any prompting, without us saying, ‘Hey, you may be a transgendered child,' she just one day said, ‘I want to be called Aya and she and her,' and that was it.
Aya does admit to being nervous when she told her parents. She does seem to be very precocious.
I just felt like a girl inside, even when I was a baby. I just wasn't born correct.Aya's parents found Spokane therapist Marybeth Markham…and found that they were not alone. Markham sees 10 transgender clients per week, aged 5 to 72. (Markham is available on Facebook.)
Our detractors often challenge us with the claim that children so young cannot know themselves.
Absolutely, nobody had to tell me I was a girl, I just knew. These kids are the same.Markham has organized a playgroup once a month…which also gives a chance for parents of transgender kids to interact.
There's no fear of anyone discovering anything – ‘Hey, wait a minute. You're wearing a dress but you're really a boy.' We can talk about how our family is dealing with it, how we're coping.Markham says that 50-75% of the parents of the trans children she sees have parents who are not supportive.
Sadly, I have some families come in and they're in shock and they say, ‘Can you please fix my child,' or, ‘Please tell me it isn't so, I'll do anything.' I've had parents say ‘I'd rather have my child be schizophrenic than transgendered'. It's heartbreaking when that happens, because the kids feel that. They sense that, they know their parents aren't supporting them and that's why a lot of kids stuff it down inside.
I am not recommending children this age have surgery. There's nobody who will do surgery on a child that young – if they do they should lose their license.
Children can take hormone therapies leading into pubescence; some of the treatments are fully reversible, others – like growing an Adam's apple – are not.That's a bone I like to pick. Everyone grows an Adam's apple. It's just that males generally grow a larger one. But that is not universal.
Rob and Shannon do not have delusions about the future. They know that discrimination against transgender people is common and the suicide rate of transpeople is perhaps as high as 42%.
I think these kids are coming out of the woodwork more and more, and families are finding each other. We're good. And Aya is wonderful, you can see she's happy and that's the most important thing.
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