Welp, it’s still Pride month. Despite being Very Busy Being Queer, I spent more time than I wanted exchanging emails with the editor-in-chief of The Maine Wire, Steve Robinson, last week.
When he learned that there was no credible angle to spin a leaked hot-take email into an accusation of trans adults “grooming” children, he turned instead to peppering his article with random jabs to stir up an air of impropriety, including the blandest publicly-available information about my history of sex work. The sauce of his story remained weak.
(Guess he doesn’t read The Phoenix. Steve, babe, check the back issues for some spicier clickbait.)
In an uncharacteristic burst of restraint, I sent along a few polite corrections and told Steve that I hoped he’d take me up on my offer of an interview next time. I told him I’d consider the opportunity to connect with his readership a blessing.
Imagine my surprise when I sat back and realized I meant it.
I’ve already written here about how absurd the “groomer” trope is, but negating an argument is never as effective as affirmatively stating your case.
So. If trans people aren’t a pack of boogeymen trying to snatch kids from conservative homes and trick them into mutilating themselves and doing weird sex stuff, what do we want? If The Maine Wire had bothered to ask, I would have said:
Trans people want kids to grow up healthy and happy — regardless of whether they decide to pursue gender transition. We want kids to feel like they’re good enough, regardless of how masculine or feminine they are.
We want kids to be able to access safe community support, evidence-based medical care, and appropriate education at every stage of development. We want accurate data collection to ensure the best possible health outcomes.
Ideally, we’d love for parents to be part of that process — especially because family support is one of the strongest suicide-prevention factors for trans people. We want to stop needing to comfort kids when they see people they relate to being villainized in the media — not to mention kids whose families make love and support contingent on adhering to gender norms. We would really love to stop scrambling for resources when a trans kid gets kicked out of their home and suddenly needs help accessing food, shelter, education and all the other things their parents are withholding because their kid’s behavior doesn’t align with societal values ascribed to their genitals. We’re not going to let your kids die out on the streets if we can help it, but we’d rather help you to be there for them before it comes to that.
To that end, we want to talk with parents who react negatively to their child’s gender journey and to help them repair relationships wherever possible. We want to help you understand why your kid gets so upset about the way you react to their gender, and we want to help your kid to give you grace when you’re trying to be there for them but you’re also feeling uncomfortable. We want to help your family to see one another more clearly, regardless of where your child’s exploration of gender goes.
We don’t want to take your kids. We don’t want to convince your kids they need medical procedures or hormones to be happy. We don’t want to turn your kids away from you. We want you and your kids to have the support and resources you need to make informed choices and more smoothly navigate something most of us had to stumble through the hard way. We want you to be around to see your kids grow into whatever kind of happy, healthy adult they decide to be.
This list is not exhaustive, and it reflects only a fragment of the joy and hope that MaineTransNet and other LGBTQIA+ orgs share with families across the political spectrum. As always, opinions stated here are just mine, in my personal capacity. But, if you’re concerned about trans people interacting with kids, you could always try asking us why we bother. The truth makes for a much better story than the weirdly sexualized hack jobs some people insist on putting out about us.
Bre Kidman is an artist, activist, and attorney (in that order), the first openly non-binary person in history to run for the U.S. Senate, and the co-executive director of MaineTransNet. They would be delighted to hear your thoughts on the political industrial complex at [email protected].