trans, advocacy, legal issues, trans advocacy, human rights, parenting, support, allies
Dawn: I think a lot of places need to do some work about understanding what this dynamic looks like when the parents aren’t on the same page. Because I think, like CHEO for example, they’re a gender diversity clinic, they’re more used to a situation where both parents are supporting or neither parent, and then the youth is just coming on their own. But they don’t have a lot of experience with the situation that we have, where one parent is supporting and the other parent is not, so the child is essentially living 2 completely different lives, with different names, with different clothes, different like-. I don’t think that people really have the analysis for that, because it’s really easy - like we’re involved with Children’s Aid as well, and have been for a long time, not just because of this, but because of other issues at Dad’s house, but it’s very tempting for people to just say “This is a conflict between the parents” and that’s what keeps happening. Like at CHEO they say “It’s a conflict between the parents, we can’t really say who’s right.”
Like even though at CHEO they’ll say the child is old enough to define their own gender, and yeah supporting the child is the right path, but then they still come back to “Well the real problem here is the conflict between the parents.” And it’s the same thing with Children’s Aid and they see what’s going on, and they say “Well the kids are at risk of emotional harm, but the emotional harm is because of the conflict between the parents.” And it’s like my child’s gender is not a conflict, and abuse and violence is not a conflict, because it completely erases that there’s a power dynamic, and that people don’t become trans because their parents divorce, and they don’t become trans because their parent is mentally ill, like there’s no science that this kind of thing is being based on. Like there’s no research, there’s no, it’s just somebody can say something, and then it gets believed, but it doesn’t actually make a lot of sense. Also why would you even do that?
And, I think saying well this is just a conflict is another way of removing yourself from taking responsibility, and saying this is wrong, this child has rights aside from the parents, and they should be allowed to be themselves, and if there’s a space where they’re not safe then they shouldn’t be there. Or the organization like Children’s Aid for example should be helping the other parent to get to a place of accepting the child, but also protecting the child in the meantime, rather than just saying “Well we don’t really know who’s right, and all these people have such different views, and we don’t really know what to do, let the court sort it out!” But I mean the court process has been over three years. And then Children’s Aid they say “Well, we don’t have the power to do anything.” And I’m like, you don’t have the power? You’re Children’s Aid, you have all the power! You’re choosing not to use it.
And I think that, like I’ve done some research and I’ve contacted someone in Toronto, at the Children’s Aid Society there because they have the Out and Proud division for queer and trans families. And I think it’s pretty bad that we don’t have that in Ottawa, because we do have some other services, and I think it says somewhere in the Child and Family Services Act that you have the right to have culturally appropriate care when you access Children’s Aid. And I think it’s fairly easy to argue that being trans or being queer can be considered a culture, and I don’t think that it’s okay for workers that don’t either identify as a part of that community or have done some extra special training to be like saying... Like I’ve sat at meetings, like the case conference at the school where there’s like 12 cisgendered people talking about what’s best for my trans child, and I’m like this is not, this is really oppressive, you have no idea, you don’t know what this kid is going to be going through. It’s not to talk about well how hard it is for the school to make the accommodations, like that’s also really oppressive. Suck it up, you just have a put a different sign on the bathroom and call her by a different name. Like it’s actually not that much work.
And, I think that’s another way why people don’t help marginalized groups. Like “Oh it’s too much work, it’s too expensive, it’s so hard on me to do this.” But that’s also really shitty. And you people don’t really want to reflect on the privilege that they have being cisgender, and it’s basically just be a good person, don’t be an asshole. I mean I’ve literally gone and spoken to doctors about sexual violence, and said to people “This isn’t really that difficult. Literally, just listen to people, believe what they’re saying, validate them and don’t be an asshole.” And then, you’re going to actually help people. You don’t need a university degree, you don’t need to be a social worker or a psychologist or a doctor or a gender specialist to be an ally for trans people. You just need to be a decent human being that’s willing to listen and learn, and that’s sometimes what I don’t see happening in organizations like even at CHEO, even though it’s a gender diversity clinic. The doctor and the people that work there are all cisgender, so okay well maybe they’re experts and they’re advocating, and that’s great, but do they really understand what those kids are going through? I’m not really sure.