Bisexual activists cautiously optimistic after White House meeting

Bisexual activists cautiously optimistic after White House meeting

Written by James Finn | DETROIT – What would you do as a parent if your comfortable home and middle-class lifestyle were killing your child?

Pack all the belongings that can fit in your car? Drive 1,300 miles over four worry-filled days, and spend nearly your last penny to get your kid to safety? I can hear parents everywhere chanting, “Of course! That’s what parents do!”

When I lived in Germany, I met parents who had fled conflict zones and impoverished themselves to give their children a chance of safety and happiness. I never dreamed that I would meet Americans who chose to become refugees Here in the United States

Then two nights ago, I spent two hours on the phone with Kate and Cody, who had just fled Florida to a homeless shelter in New York.

53-year-old Kate told me she had no other choice. She was either leaving Florida or watching her 16-year-old transgender son wither and possibly die.

She had good reason to be afraid.

Years ago, she spent a month sleeping on a sofa in the living room with Cody. He was only 13, he tried to overdose, and although he said he was fine, she didn’t let him out of her sight.

Everything got better for a while. Cody made friends with other trans kids, started blocking puberty, felt good about himself, and life seemed to be just fine. Kate let her guard down, and then…all hell broke out.

This is Cody’s story. And Kate.

Cody told me over the phone that he first realized he was transgender when he was seven. . His voice is rough and raspy – not yet a man’s voice but no longer a boy’s voice. It is sharp. Talkative. Well informed. If I didn’t already know he was 16, I might have guessed 17 or 18.

He and Kate are on speakerphone with me, telling me he doesn’t have a seven-year-old transgender label, but he knew. When he was eight, he told Kate.

Kate says her first instinct was to deny.

“I went through all the stages of grief, including fear and horror, in about 15 minutes. He was just looking at me and I didn’t say anything. Then I said to myself, ‘Fuck, this isn’t about me.’ I thought how scared he was of all the things he was going to face.”

Cody tells me, “My mom’s support and open mind was so quick. The next day she was like, ‘What do you want me to do, and what are we going to do next?'”

He hadn’t gone out to anyone else for years, but he was a stubborn little boy. He couldn’t bring himself to wear a uniform skirt to school. “The staff were adamant, but I refused. They eventually stopped trying to make me. Otherwise I would have flown under the radar.”

Then when puberty kicked in, Cody started spinning. Kate says she was worried, knowing the changes would be shocking. One day when Cody was 11 years old, he walked into the bathroom to take a shower and noticed his shoulder-length hair in the mirror.

“I started puberty early, and I didn’t want to be a girl. She hit me like a ton of bricks, and I said, ‘This has to go!’ I took my elementary school kid’s scissors and cut everything.”

Kate laughs a little, remembering how crazy Cody’s hair looked. Then she said, “When I got out of that bathroom, it totally broke my heart.”

She took him to the barber, impressed him, and that difficult process he was going through began to appear in public.

“My mom knew how serious things were. I started losing friends, so I looked for community support. I eventually found a program called compass. “

Compass is a LGBTQ community center in Palm Beach County that offers a peer support group for youth. Cody began attending and making friends when he was twelve years old.

“That’s when my social transition became more clear. My name was chosen, and I was kind of telling the teachers as I walked. Then I came out to my dad. He was often busy at work and wasn’t present on average, but we had a decent relationship.”

“One morning when he woke up around 6:30, I asked him if he could talk to me for a second. He was in my room next to my bed. I took my blanket and threw it over my head so I couldn’t look at him. I yelled very quickly, ‘I think I might be passing’.” And he was like, “Oh, that’s it?” I took off the blanket, and he said, “It’s okay.”

Cody’s father didn’t reject or abuse him, but he remained in Cody’s words “nonexistent.”

Despite the support of family and peers, Cody’s movement escalated further.

“I just entered seventh grade at a new university [public] School was the worst school year of my life. I was bullied a lot. I was very depressed and started seeing a psychiatrist and taking antidepressants. Not working. I was still intimidated and very depressed. The staff was not gay friendly. There was only another trans student in the school.”

Students and staff constantly harassed Cody and the other child in transit. “The counseling counselor told us both separately that Jesus would save us [from being trans]. She said we still have time and don’t understand how we feel, but Jesus knows.”

Cody tells me, with a mixture of amusement and anger, that the other child is Jewish. Kate was angry, but she didn’t have much to do. Besides, her hands were full.

Cody started having “meltdowns”. He says, “When my mom drove me to school, I would scream, cry, kick, whatever.”

One day on the way to school, “My mom gave me a bottle of antidepressants and I stared for about 30 seconds. Then I opened it to take my medicine, and in one fell swoop I took them all.”

I didn’t expect Cody to say this, so I was shocked into silence. When I catch my breath, I say, “You were only 13 years old. Did you take these pills to send a message or did you really intend to die?”

Cody’s voice goes into a quiet whisper. “I really wanted to die.”

It moves quickly. “My mom immediately stopped to a gas station, called dad and asked what to do. I tried vomiting and did a little. It was mostly regret but also because I didn’t like the way my mom felt.”

Cody has been hospitalized for a long time, although the drugs he has taken are not fatal even in high doses. The doctors were worried he would try again, and when he finally came home, Kate got into the ultra-protective mommy mode, never letting him out of her sight even to sleep.

Kate realized that something had to change quickly.

She reached out to the Compass Center staff, and they got her a list of six local doctors who do sex therapy. I found someone who took their insurance and eventually prescribed puberty blockers to relieve Cody’s nagging trauma. I was horrified by the impossible annual price of $4000.00. She then qualified for a financial aid program, and Cody received his first four quarterly injections to suspend his sexual maturity.

“Did that help?” I ask.

His tone says, “Not really.”

“By the time I started, I was in great shape. They stopped my bike, which was the worst part. They slowed the breast growth but didn’t reverse the growth that was there.”

He took the injections for about a year, then on the advice of his doctor, he started testosterone. For about another year, things started to get better.

That’s when the “hell” I mentioned broke up.

Florida has passed the so-called “Don’t Say Like Me” law, which has filled local news with angry voices from conservative parents who hate transgender students and call their parents nanny and pedophiles. Cody watched warily the Texas governor’s announcement of investigations into child abuse of parents with transgender children.

When the Florida governor suggested he would do the same, Cody felt guilty that he might hurt his parents and terribly afraid he would be taken away from them. His grades were affected as well as his mental health.

Kate says, “I was horrified by the child abuse investigations and Cody’s placement in a nursing home. He couldn’t survive in the system. This was a matter of life and death.”

Then as if things weren’t bad enough, Cody’s doctor walked away.

Kate returned to Compass for a referral, but the list of six doctors willing to treat trans children had been reduced to one, and when Kate called in, the practice did not take her insurance.

Cody was forced to stop taking cold testosterone, and his mental health declined.

Mom and son decided together that they had to move out of Florida. They’ve been planning it for months.

New York was Cody’s idea.

The trans teens he spoke to there told him that they felt safe and supported at school rather than being bullied. I needed it! Kate saved every dime she could and, in a leap of desperate faith, packed up the car at the beginning of September and began driving her son toward Hope. She told me that she had no specific plans, and that she struggled with extreme anxiety during the four days of the trip.

I asked her what was the last straw. “What got you in that car?”

Her voice trembles. “My son lost another one of his peers.”

I don’t know what that means, so Cody made it clear. “I had a passing friend I’ve known for years and got the news of his suicide.”

Kate says, “This was for me!” She became convinced that moving Cody to New York was a matter of saving his life. Nothing is stopping her, not even worry.

Things are finally getting better.

I first learned about this when Kate emailed me from New York several days ago. I wrote to thank me for last article about Rainbow Youth Project, which provides crisis support for LGBTQ children. She wrote that she was communicating with them and really felt hopeful, and finally – not alone.

I immediately called the Rainbow guys and two days later I learned that they were working on arranging medical care. Cody is hired as a case manager now, and from what I know about the organization, they will do whatever it takes to get him with the care he needs.

By the end of the call, Cody’s voice sounds more than answerable and raspy. look happy. full of hope

He describes the small room without a kitchen where they sleep as clean and private – as if living in a homeless shelter was the least of his worries. He is excited about the school he says he loves. He makes friends. His teachers call him by his chosen name using the pronouns he/she. All he had to do was ask!

In Florida, he says, “It’s like having a tooth pulled out.”

About New York, he adds, “I’m incredibly optimistic. Obviously we’re having a lot of trouble getting a stable life, but I don’t have that dread anymore as I get up in the morning.”

Cody and Kate will be fine, but the desperate situation they find themselves is shared by far too many gay families in the United States.

Many parents of transgender children in conservative states fear to death investigations of abuse and lack of health care. rainbow youth Case managers tell me that Cody’s lack of access to a doctor has become a norm in some red states, notably Florida and Texas.

In Texas, investigations into child abuse have been halted by courts, again allowed, and again suspended in some cases. Parents have no idea what to expect.

This summer, transgender girl Kay Chapley, who has testified several times before the Texas legislature in defense of transgender youth, announced a fundraiser so that she and her family could Escape from Texas.

Kai and Cody are tips off the iceberg. I constantly hear from LGBTQ families about the danger they feel they are in – and how becoming refugees in their own country is their only option to stay healthy and stay together.

Do you want to help?

Go out and vote in November. He sent a message to Republican leaders that choosing gay families for political gain is a losing tactic. Do you want to help families more directly? Donate generously to local and national LGBTQ organizations that provide direct services.

Read about Rainbow Youth Project USA over hereOr click the chart below to find out how you can help by volunteering time or money.

Do you know LGBTQ families in need? Do you feel helpless or hopeless? Rainbow Youth Volunteers are ready to help. Immediately.

click To visit the rainbow youth


James Finn is a L.A. Blade columnist, former Air Force intelligence analyst, graduate of Queer Nation and Act Up NY, and unpublished “breadwinner” novelist. Send questions, comments and story ideas to [email protected]


Previous article previously posted By Prism & Pen- Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling and republishing with permission.

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