I have become increasingly involved with PFLAG Phoenix and one of the things I have noticed is the dramatic increase of individuals and families of individuals who are dealing with transgender issues who are coming in to support meetings. But what has been most striking for me is how young some of these individuals coming in are. Many are young children and the parents are long past the "it's just a stage" phase of the journey.
Well on Wednesday, August 31 at 10:00pm ET (9:00pm AZ time) "Primetime Nightline" will be airing a one-hour long program documenting the remarkable journeys of three families, one of them a family from Arizona, who has been very active with PFLAG Phoenix.. Here is a brief description of each of the three families:
Jackie is a 10 year old from Ohio who was originally born as Jack. As a toddler, Jack was drawn to his sister’s dolls and clothes, and enjoyed dressing up in tutus. At 10 years old, with tears in his eyes, he told his parents “I’m a girl on the inside.” Within months, with his parents help, Jack becomes Jackie. She now attends school as a girl, wearing girl’s clothing, heels, and makeup. We watch as Jackie navigates her transition and meets relatives for the first time as a girl. Soon Jackie will begin taking puberty blockers, a controversial treatment, which will prevent her from going through male puberty.
Nathan is a 15 year old living in Arizona and was originally born Natalie. Always feeling out of place as a girl, he came home from his first day of pre-school to tell his mother, “I’m a boy.” He started dressing in gender neutral clothing in pre-school. As Natalie grew up, her parents became convinced this wasn’t a phase and are now helping him transition. We watch as Natalie changes his name to Nathan in court and prepares to start testosterone treatment, which will give him physical attributes of a boy. Harassed into home schooling, Nathan has no friends his own age. Cynthia McFadden introduces him to his transgender idol Chaz Bono, who offers him and his family a few words of advice and hope.
Vanessa is 19 years old living and working in New York City. Vanessa was born as Pierry. At first, her immigrant family had a difficult time accepting their son as their daughter, but now that she has decided on surgery, they have come to support her. But neither the family nor Vanessa can afford the transition, so she has turned to prostitution to pay for the body she feels she should’ve been born with in the first place. We go along with her to Guadalajara, Mexico, where a wad of $6500 cash will buy her six surgeries in two hours as she struggles to become the woman she’s always wanted to be.Set your DVR if you have one. I've been aware for quite some time that ABC has been filming this show as there was some filming done at support meetings (with permission from participants of course). It is my understanding there could be some scenes in which PFLAG members are included (depending on editing). I will not be one of them, but I will be watching the finished product though.
This - dealing with our transgender brothers and sisters and helping them through the huge challenges they face - is most definitely our next big battle. And I use the possessive pronoun "our" because I mean anyone who believes in full equality for everyone regardless of whom they love or whether the gender they present to the public matches the biological body they were born in. So I intend to be right there on the front lines fighting to make life better for our transgender brothers and sisters and their families, just as I have been for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. We are all in this together.
Please watch this program if you care about this issue. It is only an hour long and hopefully well worth the time it takes to watch. Educating ourselves on the very complex challenges facing these people is very important.
Update: Here is a link to an ABC's preview of this show.