Welcome! My name is Janna Barkin and my son is Amaya. He is a healthy, happy, and handsome 21 year-old, a senior in college, and he is transgender. (To be clear, I will always use male pronouns for Amaya throughout this blog, even though our family and community used female pronouns for Amaya until he asked us to switch at age 14.)
There was not an ah-hah moment when I just knew my child was transgender. My husband Gabriel and I were very aware that Amaya was not your average ‘tomboy.” The signs were always there, from the way he insisted upon being dressed to the so-called “boy” toys he consistently chose to play with, to the way he carried himself and moved his body. My understanding and acceptance developed over a long period of time and followed closely with my child's understanding and acceptance of himself.
When I first started looking for information and support to help me understand my child, I was lucky to find some great resources. But at the time there were only a scant few voices and websites that were able to provide information and perspective about parenting a transgender child. (Actually, I am not sure the word “blog” even existed when I began exploring this subject almost 15 years ago.) Now there are so many great resources available on the Internet and elsewhere. Sadly, there is also a lot of misinformation, fear, hate, and ignorance.
I am writing this blog to share and spread information, love, acceptance, and empathy. Every child deserves to be loved and supported unconditionally. Being transgender is just one more beautiful normal variation of being human.
Aside from my own deep connection to my transgender son, here are some other challenges faced by transgender people and their families that inspire me to write this blog:
LGBTQ youth have among the highest suicide rates in the nation. While more studies are needed, currently it is believed that at least 25% of transgender youth have attempted suicide, and rates as high as 41% have been cited.
The Human Rights Campaign conducted a groundbreaking study in which 10,000 LGBTQ identified youth ages 13-17 were surveyed. 42% said that the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBT people. 26% say their biggest problems are not feeling accepted by their family/ trouble at school/bullying, and fear to be out/open.
Our family is so grateful to all our family and friends and greater community who have accepted and even embraced our son’s transition. We know we are fortunate in this regard as many do not experience this.
I also know many transgender people and their families are not so fortunate. It is my hope that this blog will provide a safe space for parents, family members, and others who face challenges or simply want to learn more about what it is like to parent, advocate for, and above all, love a transgender child.
I am here to support, inspire, educate, and be educated. I am glad you are here.