It’s been a rough week for all of us and many of us are wondering, what now? What next? What do I need to do? Following are six steps that you can take, today, to help your trans child during a Trump Administration.
- Don’t Panic
Panicking helps no one, and least of all your child. As emergency warnings always urge us, stay calm and take steps to protect yourself. I know you may still be in shock, or avoiding all things news related. Eventually, you will dig yourself out of that hole and the sooner you can, the better.
Please note, I am not saying get over it or don’t be a sore loser or don’t be a whining liberal. You have absolutely every right to be frightened, gutted, depressed, shocked, and terrified for the future of your child. You are a concerned and loving parent. You have earned days, weeks, months of wallowing in despair.
However, we only have until January 20th and we have a lot of work to do. So let’s proceed in a calm and orderly fashion.
- Get Gender Markers in Order
Make this priority Number One. The only reason that we are able to obtain a passport at the federal level with proper gender markers is because of an administrative order. Trump has made it clear, both throughout his campaign and since obtaining the majority of the electoral votes on November 8th, that he will “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama” as priority number one upon entering office in January.
Which means now is not the time to “wait and see”. Though it might take longer to undo an administrative order, you may risk missing out on the chance for your child to have a corrected passport.
To change the passport gender marker, you need a letter from a medical professional, stating that your child is currently or has undergone treatment for gender transition. That’s it. You don’t have to wait for a legal name change or be on blockers, HRT or have undergone gender affirming surgeries.Either mail in the letter with a fee for updating a current passport, or fill out the forms for a new passport. Standard processing takes 4-5 weeks, expedited (for a fee) takes 2-3 weeks. A letter from a medical professional can take up to 2 to 4 weeks, so add it all together, if you start today, you can have your child’s corrected passport by January 13th, a full week before Donald Trump is sworn in.
Also, do not forget to correct the gender marker on the Social Security card as well. Though the card doesn’t state gender, it can have farther reaching implications down the line if these don’t match. And since this is also an administrative policy, it may also change over the next four years. A valid 10-year passport or letter from a medical professional will be sufficient to change this.
Some of you may be wondering about changing gender markers on birth certificates. Birth Certificates are regulated at a state level, and it is unlikely that whatever current processes are in place in someone’s birth state will change in the next four years. For Illinois, some permanent gender affirming surgery is required to change the gender marker on the birth certificate. So if you do qualify for changing a birth certificate, by all means, do so. But I urge you, do not wait for a change in birth certificate in order to obtain a corrected passport.
- Create a Safe Folder
Now, more than ever, it’s important to have a safe folder for your child. If you haven't already. Two copies, just in case.
This folder should include a letter from a pediatrician or medical professional, confirming your child’s gender identity, a letter from a therapist that both confirms your child’s gender identity and the stability of your family or home, and letters from any other health care professionals that can confirm your child’s gender identity.
You may also want to reach out to friends and family in your child’s life, who are willing to write letters testifying to your child’s atypical gender identity. Reach out to ministers or pastors that know your child and can support their gender identity, teachers, school administrators, coaches, etc.
Why is this so important? Because not everyone understands gender identity. As safe as you may feel within your community, the time may arise when this kind of folder, detailing the history and development of your child, becomes critical, even life-saving.
- Start a Savings Fund
This particular step hits a little too close to home for me. My child has not even started puberty yet, which means we have many years of gender affirming medical interventions ahead of us. Under the Affordable Care Act, it is not permitted for health insurance companies to discriminate based on gender identity. Which means, if my child needs puberty blockers as part of his treatment for gender dysphoria, our health insurance must (and does currently) cover them.
Or for that matter, if my male identified child, with valid identification marking him as male, goes to the gynecologist in order to maintain the health of his uterus, our health insurance can’t deny his claim based on gender.
Once the ACA is repealed, as Trump has also promised to do in the first 100 days, these rights will be stripped away from children like my son, and the necessary medical interventions that are required to treat gender dysphoria will have to be paid out of pocket.
Let’s talk cost. For Lupron, costs are an average of $1100 a month. If our son starts puberty around the age of 10 (though its far more likely he’ll start at 9) and remains on blockers until 14, that’s about $66,000, or $13000 a year. Or we could decide to do the implant, which right now costs about $15000 and lasts for about 2 years. Oh, and the cost of implantation, which is a surgical procedure.
None of this calculates the cost of HRT. I’m banking on a single term.
So start a fund now, no matter your child’s age. Ask your families and friends to start contributing. Fundraise, if you can. Invest, safely. Instead of toys or clothes or gift cards for Christmas and birthdays, ask them for monetary investments into your child’s future. If you have an Health Savings Account, begin contributing the maximum every month. If your company doesn’t offer one, then open one through a trusted bank or other company. Look for no “use it or lose it” rules and for it roll into a retirement account, down the line.
- Build Allies
Start with family. Maybe not that crazy cousin from Arkansas who keeps posting transphobic memes on Facebook, but certainly anyone that is a part of your child’s life. Reach out, suggest some reading materials like Becoming Nicole or the Transgender Child. Hook them up with some great blogs, like one of my personal favorites, Transparenthood. If your family is Christian, check out Trans Girl at the Cross. Offer to talk to them on the phone and answer any questions. Or meet them for coffee. Or even show them your safe folder, if you feel like that might help. Having supportive family around our kids for the next four years will be critical.
But what if you don’t? Or can’t? What if your family is hopeless? That’s okay, build a community of allies in your own neighborhood. Do you have some friends that you considered sharing information with about your child? Now might be the time to do so. Have a neighbor or babysitter or your child’s best friend’s parents who might make a good ally? Take the risk. Now. The more people we have on our side, working with us, supporting us, speaking up for us, the more likely we are to survive these next four to eight years unscathed.
I know some of us might be afraid. I totally understand. We risk so much when it comes to our children. So be careful. Open up conversations about what’s in the news and not what’s in your home first, to feel people out. When you find the people who will lift your child up instead of drag them down, you’ll know.
And if all else fails, reach out to support groups online.
- Love Your Child
I saved this for last, but this is the most important. Love your child, hold them tight, and remind them, over and over again, that you will keep them safe and you will protect them.
Because you will. You’ve got this. We are all in it together and we won’t give up. And loving your child is absolutely the best step you can take towards ensuring their future in this country.
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Read Portrait of a Transgender Child to learn more about my son.
Read my latest post here: The seven stages of grief for the future of America
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