en English

 

In this episode of the GenderGP podcast, journalist – and latest GenderGP team member – Taryn De Vere talks about her experiences of her daughter coming out as trans and how it ignited her passion for activism and her support for the trans community. Together she and our GenderGP co-hosts discuss the importance of education and supporting your trans child.

If you have been affected by any of the topics discussed in our podcast, and would like to get in touch, please contact us via the Help Centre. You can also contact us on social media where you will find us at @GenderGP on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Links:

Twitter: @taryndevere
Independent article: https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/im-a-proud-mum-to-a-transgender-child-39061549.html
Pride post: https://www.gendergp.com/how-to-celebrate-trans-pride-in-lockdown/
Taryn De Vere Jewellery: https://taryndevere.com

 

The GenderGP Podcast

What we can learn from trans kids – Taryn DeVere: The GenderGP Podcast S5 E8

 

Hello, this is Dr Helen Webberley. Welcome to our GenderGP Podcast, where we will be discussing some of the issues affecting the trans and non-binary community in the world today, together with my co-host Marianne Oakes, a trans woman herself, and our head of therapy.

 

Dr Helen Webberley:
We have another amazing guest today. We have Taryn De Vere with us. And Taryn has two places in my heart. She has recently joined GenderGP as our social media manager, and we needed to take on somebody bright and colourful to help with the queries and questions that were coming into social media, and also someone to kind of spread our word and spread the words of the community on behalf of GenderGP. So, welcome to the team, Taryn, and welcome to our podcast today. I shall, as I usually do, let you introduce yourself and tell everybody exactly who you are, why you might possibly be here, and all about you. Over to you.

Taryn De Vere:
Thanks. So yeah. I’m Taryn De Vere. I live in Ireland, but I’m originally from Australia. And I have a child who identifies as trans, a young child who came out to me when she was at about five. And that kind of started me on the whole journey of learning all about—perhaps I didn’t have friends who were trans before, and I did understand some of the issues relating to trans people, and it was actually my knowledge that came to the fore at that time because my daughter said to me in the car do all women have vulvas, and my instinctual response was yes, and then I said, “Oh hang on a sec. No, trans women. So no, trans women don’t have vulvas. And she said, “Well, what’s a trans woman?” and I started talking to her explaining and then she said, “That’s me. I’m a trans girl.” and I said, “Oh okay.” so that that was the starting point for it all you know that moment and then now we’re a few years on you know in our story and so I just obviously, I would have been interested in trans rights before but not as passionately as when you have a child, you suddenly just get really thrown into it. And so I’ve become extremely involved in the trans rights movement and particularly with trans kids.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Yeah. So I haven’t really obvious question rolling off my tongue which I’m guessing other people might have too. Did you know before that time in the car? Did you have any inkling that that was coming?

Taryn De Vere:
Not really. I mean, I wouldn’t have parented along with a very strict kind of gender binary line. I say that but then in some ways, obviously I did because my child had short hair and was wearing kind of masculine sort of clothing and stuff like that. But when she was quite little, she was really always wanted her older sisters’ things and wanted her older sisters’ pink stuff and would like wearing wigs and things like that. But her older sister was always very resistant to sharing. And so that was kind of like, you know she didn’t really get to wear the things as much as she wanted to because her older sister wouldn’t share. And you know it didn’t really occur to me that maybe we should buy some of her own stuff. That’s really the only thing that I can look back and think on, but she said to me actually quite recently that she had known since she was about three, but she was too afraid to tell us because she thought we wouldn’t love her anymore. Which was just a wound in my heart, and I think it does speak to the fact that clearly, I did gender her, yeah and I did give her a gendered upbringing because she obviously felt that we’d be upset if we found this out about her. And that that was really quite devastating for me as a parent to hear her say that.

Dr Helen Webberley:
It’s interesting on two counts, isn’t it, that that one that we think that we are open-minded about gender, about race, about sexuality. And you know, modern parents, and that is how we feel we are. But how modern are we? How equal are we, actually. If you are down to it, and of course, it can’t be. I expect my daughter to help me more in the kitchen then I help my sons still, and then I expect my sons to help me and you know that’s wrong, isn’t it. You know so it’s strange however modern we might think that we are. And also it’s interesting on another count because we often hear when children are going through assessments to kind of prove their transness and that question that I asked you exactly that, when did you first know? And I feel sorry for those parents and those families who didn’t know early on. Because it just didn’t arise for whatever reason. But that doesn’t in any way invalidate their transness if you know what I mean. I think, Marianne, you probably hear that a lot, don’t you, when you are talking to families and trans children and younger people?

Marianne Oakes:
Yeah, I think more for trans girls, the parents know no signs of it. Maybe wore a princess dress on occasions. Well actually, the child was usually functioning fairly well in a masculine role. However, for the trans boys, it’s usually a little bit they are expressing masculine a little freer. I think that’s there’s a lot about society and how we perceive masculinity and femininity. The point I was going come back to you on there were people asked me when did I first know. And I couldn’t say I knew it at age three. I’ve got memories of being three years old and so of the behaviours and some of the feelings that I had. And people say you can’t possibly remember when you were three. And to hear you say that your daughter said to you I knew when I was three was kind of, wow, you know, I can believe you that without question because I can pull my own experience. I think it comes back to society and how it’s conditioned to think. And actually, the information that we’ve got in society now means a three-year-old probably knows more than I would have done as a three-year-old.

Taryn De Vere:
Certainly, my kids do anyway. I’m a very sex-positive parent. So, I kind of talk to my kids in very open ways. So and in fact, there’s a very funny story about it. One of my son’s friends who when he was ten his dad decided to have the chat with him while my son was there and when my son came home, he told me, and I said, “Well, how did he do it?” And he was like, “He was not too bad, he did need some help.” Like, he forgot what a uterus was called. I guess I was thinking, my kid could give that chat.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Absolutely. Taryn, when you were when you’re introducing yourself, you said that you have become extremely passionate about trans rights and so, why such extreme? What brought that out?

Taryn De Vere:
So I guess like a lot of things until you experience them yourself, you kind of think our society has that sorted. So you look after people who are in these different situations and who they’d help, and then when you find yourself in that place yourself or somebody that you love, and you need to access support for them you suddenly realize how bad it all is and how hopeless it all is. Well, the word hopeless maybe a bit too harsh term, but you just realize that it’s a bit bleak, I suppose. For example, where we are is quite a rural part of Ireland, and there is just not anything, not even a sort of therapist specially trained to deal with gender issues. Nobody is able to access nobody. And there’s no support group. So, there’s no family support or anything like that here. I do go over the border, over to Northern Ireland, and I am involved with SAIL NI. And I am involved with TENI as well here in the Republic. And I’ve been to a number of their organizations, but you know. We have to. We have to travel for four hours to get to a TENI event. Sometimes more than four hours, which doesn’t really work for me as a lone parent with a lot of kids. And when I go to the SAIL events, they tend to be older children. So it’s been really hard for us as a family trying to find supports and find some other kids who are experiencing what my daughter’s experience. And in fact, she just made her first other trans girlfriend this year, and that came through mutual friends. And that child was in a similar situation and didn’t really have a social network as a trans girl. But again, that’s four hours away, we travelled four hours, and we went and met them, and they formed a beautiful friendship and shared lots of really lovely secrets, and both the other mother and I spend a lot of time weeping. But it was just yeah, it’s just difficult when there aren’t really the supports here. So, then that makes you passionate. That makes you think, well, I need to do something I need to tell people what’s going on. I need to, and I’m a writer, and I’m a journalist. So you know, I’ve been writing about my experience my daughter’s experience and talking to other trans people I know. And I’m trying to just spread the message because the other side of all of this is there is so much misinformation about trans people and trans kids in the world, and that is really scary. Like when I wrote a piece recently for the Irish independent about being a mother of a trans child, and some of the comments I got on social media and private messages and DMs and PMs were the kinds of things you should really probably report to the police because people get very angry when they hear about trans children. Some people get very angry, and they get very scary. It’s scary how much people are attached to the gender binary, and you know that is horrible for me because I’m scared for the world that my daughter is growing up in. And I’m scared of what her life might be like. And I want to do everything I can to make the world a safer place for her and all other kids and all other trans people as well, you know we all have our part to play.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Yeah, that’s a scary sombre thought, but I feel that although there is a lot of chit chat and anger and misunderstanding, it’s got to be a better place than been the world, for example, that Marianne was trying to experience her gender in. And I’ll come back to you on that, Marianne. I’m interested, as well, you mentioned that when you started was no support, for example, there was nothing in your area and no groups on especially young children. And you mentioned the fact that there was no therapist who was a specialist, specially trained in gender feelings. And we talked about this before in that, you know, counsellors and therapists and psychotherapists and doctors, general doctors and general nurses, you’re trained in everything. You’re trained to open your door, and anything that might come in is there, except then we have this thing unless it’s gender. Unless it’s gender, then you have to be specially trained to do that. If there are any counsellors or therapists or doctors or nurses out there who are listening to this, I just wanted to just say. It’s the same as any other difference or any other something that somebody is trying to puzzle out and work out. It’s about listening to that person and understanding what they’re feeling and then kind of reflecting it back and how will that person work it out. So, gender isn’t any different to anything else. This is my belief, but specially trained therapists, counsellors, support workers, nurses, doctors, teachers to be able to deal with. And I think once we have that, things will be easier. Marianne, we’ve talked about this before.

Marianne Oakes:
I agree with you, really completely. The reality is that you know some people will go to a therapist, and as soon as you mention gender, they refer you on. All a therapist needs to be, if they’ve done the training, they’ve worked through their own prejudice and made sure that their own buttons aren’t going to be pushed, which is part of our own training, then you’ve got to be open to whoever works through the door. You can’t say I can’t deal with that. Because actually, the impact on the person who walks through the door, you are damaging the person. They’ve come for help, and they’ve gone away in a worse place. So, all I would say to any therapist is just be open to listening. And forget what you think, you know. Anybody that walks in the therapy room, for whatever reason, you’ve got to be open to accepting who they are. And if it is beyond your competency level, then that is a different thing. You can still be there for them, and you can be with them while they find other help without making matters worse, if that makes sense. So yeah, I feel disappointed in my own profession that that is even said, but unfortunately, it’s more common than not.

Dr Helen Webberley:
And also, the comments. We talked to, you know you said that, but really those comments should have been, these direct messages and private messages should be reported to the police because they are, I don’t know, so vicious. I mean I don’t read them to be honest because when you do, your heart just can’t believe that people can be that way. And we’ve often talked about this before as well. You know if we were talking about sexuality or race or colour and those comments were being made publicly, somebody would step in. The moderator would step in and say, “Hang on, this is not allowed.” And we need this moderator to come and join us in GenderGP, don’t we? And say, no excuse me, absolutely not allowed. You know, think what you like in your own head, in your own space, but you are not allowed to publicly say those kinds of things. We need that moderator, don’t we?

Taryn De Vere:
Yeah, we do, and I think there’s just a particular fear around trans children, I think, even more so than trans adults. And a common one that I get is that I should have my children taken away from me which is obviously like a really awful and scary thing to even think about as a parent, you know. So yeah this idea that you’re being irresponsible for supporting your child and I just think well every bit of research says that the best practice is to provide affirming support for your child and that if you don’t do that you’re more likely to have a dead or injured child. Now whether that’s physically or mentally injured child, you know. So I’m like doing the responsible thing. When my child told me this told me that she was a girl I went straight away to TENI, which is the Transgender Equality Network in Ireland, and I looked up their information, and I reached out to them. I read everything that I could, and they sent me a bunch of studies. I found more studies. I just kept researching. I kept looking into it. I was like well what is the best practice way to handle this? Yes, I’m a parent of five kids, and I have seen and a lot in my years as a parent, but this one was new to me, you know. And so I had to just do the work. I had to research. I had to find out about it. And everything that I read said that the way forward, the best thing for your child is the affirming model of care. And so that’s what I have done, and I think a lot of people think you’re you know oh, I rushed my five-year-old off to have the generals cut off or something. I mean, how ridiculous. That is the level of stupidity we are at here. I think that it is where the debate is in some people’s heads, you know. That children are getting operations or something. It’s ridiculous.

Dr Helen Webberley:
I love that idea that it’s about parenting, isn’t it? So whenever I am reflecting on my own parenting, I am thinking, who do I call? Who do I shout out? My teenagers are driving me mad, kind of thing. And then I think of super nanny, and I think, right, okay, super nanny, what would she do? And it’s like, you love your children unconditional love, and you support your children. You have a clear set of rules and boundaries that you stick to, that you agree to. And I can’ remember the other two. And that’s how we operate in our household for everything. So why is trans any different? If you have a trans child, it’s like almost people are thinking, oh my god, where is the book on this, I haven’t got the book on this. And actually, it’s exactly as you say, I think. It’s providing that gender-affirming support, and love and care, and belief, and a firm set of rules and boundaries, the same as for all of the children, exactly the same kind of thing. And it is no different, isn’t it? And that support, that belief and that love, how can you go wrong, really?

Taryn De Vere:
One thing that was really amazing to me and I think Speaks a lot to a generational shift was that how quickly and easily my other children, and all of my daughter’s friends, made the switch. It just wasn’t a big deal that she said she wanted to be a girl. She was thinking about what name did she want to be. Her teenage brother suggested her name. She said I like that and that’s who she’s been from that point onwards and from yes, it did take us a little while it took us a few months to remember to always use the right pronouns and always use the right name, but after a couple of months, everybody in the house was fine, and then all her classmates were fine too. It was amazing, you know. She asked me to write a letter to her classmates and explain about what being trans is and to ask them to please use the right pronouns and use the right name. So I did that, and I sent the letter out to all the parents. And I said to them if you have any questions or queries you know, here’s my phone number. Feel free to call me. And I gave them some other resources if they wanted to look up stuff. And I was quite anxious that night worried that there was going to be some pushback and I was anxious what was going be like for my daughter going to school the next day. And then I started getting these texts then, and I always remember the first texts that came in, and it was from this woman, and she said that her daughter was really excited to have another girl in the class and that they were excited to see her at school the next day. And I had a couple of messages from people all of them completely supportive from other parents. And then the next day when she went into school some of the kids bought in little cards and even gave her a gift.

Dr Helen Webberley:
More tears, more tears.

Taryn De Vere:
All the tears. You know, but what that says to me is that this next generation, they are much more open and less attached to the idea of this really strict gender binary or people being a certain way. And I mean I live in rural Ireland. You know, in a pretty conservative part of Ireland, too, you know. And so, you know, I just think of something really beautiful and inspiring about that.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Yeah, and we see that, don’t we, Marianne, a lot? You know, the children and teenagers of today are whatever, what’s the fuss, doesn’t matter what colour hair, what short hair, what kind of clothes, doesn’t matter. And look at the colour that we see on Instagram and young people just finding their gender expression, never minding their gender identity. We’ve always done that. You know, when I was fifteen, it was black and red, completely black and red. We’ve always found that expression and no one’s really bothered. Now, young people, let them be. And we see that Marianne, don’t we? The youth of today are so much more adaptable.

Marianne Oakes:
The biggest fear I get from parents of kids but also from parents who are trans is how will the children cope? How will the brothers and sisters cope? Oh my god, actually, the kids are great. The kids are egotistical. What’s in it for me? They aren’t worried about the trans person. I’ve got a good friend, yeah, well that will do me. I’ve got somebody I can share my time with, that’s all they’re worried about. Somebody else to play with. And it’s the adults that tend to do the projecting. And it just makes me think when you were talking then, and about the fight, because you did speak about the future and the worries that you have, and I think you are right to. But then in the next breath, we are talking about the next generation. I think the problem that we have in all societies is political, which went years behind. And we are waiting for the others to catch up. But the nice thing that is that the five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten-year-olds of today are moving forward, I hope, with people like yourself and with people at GenderGP I have to say are going to be moving to a better place. So, the fears that we have today hopefully are being removed despite what we hear in the media, what we get on social media. I’d like to think, I don’t know if that’s a fantasy, but that’s what I’d like to believe.

Dr Helen Webberley:
I think I believe that. I’m with you on that one there definitely. I smile there, when you were talking about the egotistical children, I was smiling at Taryn’s trans daughter’s older sister and the fact that she wouldn’t have to share her clothes anymore. She doesn’t get asked anymore because she’s got her own now. So that made me smile.

Taryn De Vere:
And their own sense of style as well. So, you know, she’s got, she’s very different, very different styles, the two of them. So yeah, no sharing.

Dr Helen Webberley:
I love it as well. It seems to me quite early on; she wanted to tell everybody because, you know, we also have heard children saying, don’t tell anybody. I do not want this secret out. Nobody must ever know, move me to a new school. Don’t tell them. And I have to say. I have a deep fear. And in fact, the thought of it. I have deep fear for that massive secret that might one day unwillingly come out. I don’t know whether you had any experience of that or, or thoughts on that, Taryn now in, in other circles that you might’ve talked to.

Taryn De Vere:
Yeah. I guess because I am involved in a bunch of different parents groups for trans kids in the UK and in Northern Ireland, in Ireland and in the US. I would be in a bunch of different groups. So, I have you know, heard about different experiences in that regard and yes on children who, who are going to school as whatever gender and who have never told anybody that they’re trans. I don’t know whether that, I mean, whether I don’t think it came from me, I think it came from my daughter. It was just that from the moment she told me it wasn’t, I didn’t project any kind of shame or issue with that. You know, I didn’t, I didn’t kind of respond to it as if this was something that should be hidden when she told me, and maybe this is because of the age she was as well, it was easier. But you know, and because we would have, you know, I’m a bisexual woman. We would have gone to the Pride marches together from when she was a little girl. She would have had lots of different people all around her, in her life. So, I guess for my daughter it didn’t have a sort of extra level of a value judgment with it that would make her think, I need to keep this a secret. That said, it wasn’t that quick. It was a slower procedure in terms of like, the letter was actually about two years or a year and a half after she first told us. And she had just kind of, she eased her way into it in social settings. And school was kind of the last one. But she had already told her friends, like her friends knew, but she hadn’t fully gone there. And everyone was incredibly, are inclusive, supportive as well. And so that made a big difference for her too. But I do remember one occasion very early on when it was about maybe the third time we had gone out in public, and she was dressed as a girl, and we were in a charity shop in Derry across the border. And the, a man who worked in the charity shop when we walked in, like looked at my daughter, laughed and said something unkind. And my daughter just immediately shut down, and she left, she said, I want to leave. And we walked out, and we left, and she was quite upset. And I sat down with her and talked her through why what happened was wrong and why that man wasn’t okay. And what we were going to do about it. And when we got home, we wrote a letter of complaint to the charity shop to the head office. And we, we got a letter back then with saying that they were very sorry that this had happened and they want to extend their apologies to my daughter and that they were going to be ensuring that training happened in their charity shops to make sure that didn’t happen again. So, you know, I followed through when she experienced some transphobia. I, you know, I did everything that I thought I could do to try and sort of making things better, make her realize she wasn’t the wrongness. He was the wrongness. You know, he was the person with the wrong idea. And I had her back as well.

Dr Helen Webberley:
I love actually the final bit, which was the training. So, it was the apology, the recognition that it was wrong, but then the apology for any hurt that was unintentionally hadn’t done intentionally. And the solution, which is the training and you know, that that’s such a lovely story to hear all of that, that complete circle. It doesn’t matter what it is. That’s such a good solution, isn’t it? You know, see a problem, identify it, do something about it and put something in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again to anybody else. You know, that’s a lovely story. Taryn, you mentioned Pride. It’s Pride month and what kind of things are going on in the world, that’s the funniest situation that we’re in the world is in? Has that impacted on Pride?

Taryn De Vere:
Yeah. Well, that seems to be kind of a virtual Pride happening all around the world. Am I right now? And I’m thinking it’s going to be like the 24-hour live stream everywhere around the world hitting at different points. So, it’s going to be interesting to see how that works. In a way, I’m kind of excited about it because I often miss the big Pride parades because they’re so far away and again, so many kids on my own. And so, I feel like, oh, this will be something that I can, my family and I can actually join in with. I mean, we usually go over the border to the Derry Pride, which is a decent Pride, but the action really is in Dublin or Belfast. So yeah, I think it’s, it’s all going to be different, but one thing’s for sure is I will be dressing up in the most colourful and extravagant outfit you can possibly get.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Good. What about, you know, Marianne? Have you got any Pride activity lined up?

Marianne Oakes:
I haven’t, and it’s a shame that I haven’t, you know. The reality is we’ve gone into this situation and all that, and it was going to make this year where I visit some of the smaller Prides in my area. Cause I’ve never, never done that. I happened across one last year, and I just thought, wow, this is fantastic. We’ve come into Pride month, and suddenly they’ve all been cancelled. So, if I’m honest with you, I’m not fully aware of how I would access it online. Well, I’m going to have to go and search now.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Well, yeah. The other thing that’s bothered me with Pride month this particular time is that there’s so much else seems to be overshadowing it. And I just wonder how people can still celebrate Pride, knowing what else is going on. Or how are they celebrating Pride, knowing what else is going on? I find that quite sad that I would think that, but it’s the situation we find ourselves in, isn’t it?

Dr Helen Webberley:
Well, for me, it’s about ignoring the bad and celebrating the colour and the good. And that’s a bit like me never read in the comments at the bottom. I like to read the positive in the articles, and I don’t read the negative, miserable, uneducated uninformed comments at the bottom. And the same with things that are happening around at the moment. You know, I don’t read them. I don’t want to listen to them. I want to, I want to join with people who have really happy and positive and encouraging ideas about identity and diversity, and that’s the way I manage when, when things aren’t going so well. I don’t know about you, Taryn.

Taryn De Vere:
I think the LGBTQI+ community has a lot to celebrate and a lot to feel proud about. I think that we’re under huge strain and pressure and adversity and discrimination and there are horrible things happening in different parts of the world. And through all of that, people are coming together. They’re fighting. They’re campaigning. They’re organizing there. They’re amazing allies to other things that are going on like the Black Lives Matter movement, the protests. So, we are like showing allyship all over the place. And I think this is a great time for us all just to really pull together and remember what makes us strong and just be good allies to other people and, you know, bring it all in and remember all the good stuff. That’s where I am at.

Marianne Oakes:
I’ve become aware this morning of the, I’ve seen it on the periphery, but my daughter in law sent me a link from Instagram about a Black Trans Lives Matter. And I think that’s really important because, if we’re honest, whatever fight to having, even within the trans community, the (unclear 32:08) who are trans really do suffer. I’m not saying we don’t, but you know, there’s another level down there. And I like that that’s been highlighted now and it’s been linked to the Black Lives Matter because actually, I think it needs vocalizing diversity, within other areas of our communities. I think it needs highlighting and I’m hoping Pride is actually going to be another way to promote that.

Taryn De Vere:
Yeah. And that’s where we’ve seen that change in the flag, moving to incorporate the (unclear 32:44) kind of colours as well, and the trans. And I love that. I love that new Pride flag. I think that’s an amazing thing. But yeah, I agree with you. I think you know. It’s time to start highlighting people who are experiencing different levels of oppression and, and in many cases, worse levels of aggression. And I thought; actually, it was a great thing that you wrote in your blog recently, Marianne about Pride, about how for people who are not identifying as LGBTQI, for like our cis allies, for different people who want to be allies. But it’s all about kind of action. And it’s about doing things rather than about waving a Pride flag, and that’s signing those petitions about those black trans women in America around what they’re experiencing. And it’s all—everything’s across the board. All of these issues are interconnected. And so, we all need to support each other with anybody who’s experiencing any kind of discrimination or oppression.

Marianne Oakes:
That takes me back to a speech I heard about two years ago from an MP Dawn Butler. And she started it just by saying, your rights are my rights, you know. If they take your rights away from you, they take my rights away from me. So, for me, that actually affects everybody; they affect every family. I think people forget that.

Taryn De Vere:
Yeah, I remind people that there are 25 million trans people in the world and that’s a significant number of people in this world. You know, everybody knows somebody who is trans on non-binary. So yeah, of course, and we’re all interconnected and how one person’s experience is going to affect somebody else’s experience. And yeah, once they come from the group’s rights they’re going to, they won’t stop there. We know that. History has told us that, you know, coming for other people’s rights then, so the fight is here and now.

Marianne Oakes:
And I think we forget that we all add value to everybody else’s lives as well. We have colour, you know, diversity stuff. The world would be a very grim place without diversity on lots of levels. You know, whether, you know, culture, religion, dare I say, and you know, sexuality and gender, that is what colours the world. So, everybody adds value to the world. And I think sometimes that’s forgotten as well.

Taryn De Vere:
Yeah. I have to say that since having a trans child, it’s made me hugely grow as a person. Experiencing the world through her has really taught me so much and made me grow. Like, I think I say this about parenting. Like, some people have religion, and some people have to grow through parenting. I think religion might be easier, but growing through parenting because your kids will bring issues to you and you have to face your own shit if you’re going to be a good parent, you know. You have to deal with your own stuff when they bring you things. And so yeah, it’s really been fascinating for me and having to deal with my own stuff and helping me massively to grow as a person. And I’m so inspired by how she is in the world and how confident and comfortable she is and how okay she is. She just blows my mind so amazing.

Marianne Oakes:
I think the thing that I notice from parents and I say this, and I think Helen will agree with me. I say to the parents that your child is the expert in this. No amount of reading, no amount of you informing yourself is going to teach you actually about your child. It’s going to inform you, but you’ve got to be led by your child. And that’s a very uncomfortable thing. But actually, we could argue that you know, they’re an autonomous being a child, you know. A good parent is somebody that listens and learns and doesn’t try to control. And I think that’s when they come to me and they want to be the expert, the parent wants to be the expert. And when I say that, I can almost see fear. Or if you can relax into it and trust your child, that then you’ll be guided. Right. I don’t know. I don’t know how other parents would feel about that, but that’s, that’s kind of how we’re trying to explain it to them.

Taryn De Vere:
Yeah. I think you’re exactly right there because you do see, like, I hear a lot of parents in, in different groups I’m in who are a bit obsessed with the idea of controlling their children. And my kids, you know, have been schooled on personal autonomy and body autonomy and stuff. So any time I move into a slightly controlling area, they quickly shoot me down, you know, with consent matters and you know, my body, my choice. I get hoisted by my own petard, sometimes, you know, brush your teeth, my body, my choice. But yeah, I would agree with you there. I think we need to be led by—look, you know, kids know who they are, they know what they’re about. We need to listen to them. And really importantly, we need to respect them. We need to treat them with respect, not think we know best for them because we don’t always know best for them. They know themselves what’s best for them.

Marianne Oakes:
I view it rightly or wrongly that the parent’s role is to prepare your children for the world they’re going to face. It’s not to massage them into a particular kind of person. It’s about allowing them to grow and flourish. And actually, a lot of the people, a lot of the adults that come into counselling now, trans or not, a lot of them come in because actually the influence the parents had, they lost their autonomy. They were doing jobs and careers and marrying people that they never wished to do. They just did it to please other people. And again, counselling can be really trying because we’re handing that autonomy back and that can be really frightening. You know, to suddenly think, oh, I’ve got to make decisions for myself. Now, boy, it can be life-changing. Simple as that.

Dr Helen Webberley:
We talked a lot about fear and frightening, and more, what have you. Once again, this is something that we’ve touched on. And Marianne, you were saying that it’s scary for a parent not to know more about this and a child does. You’re supposed to be the expert, and we see this in medicine, and we see this therapist. And if I go right back to the beginning of this conversation where doctors don’t know about it and therapists haven’t been specially trained nurses aren’t sure cause they’ve never met a trans person before or they think they haven’t. And it’s, again, it’s just that fear, isn’t it? Fear of not knowing enough because there’s someone sitting in front of you saying, can you help me in some way? And then there’s somebody else thinking, I don’t know anything about this, and that’s a really scary place to be. But again, if we’re going to be led and taught by our children, then let’s give that message to those doctors and nurses and therapists out there who are scared. You know, listen to the person in front of you, listen to what they are saying, believe them, respect them as you say, Taryn and learn. And then the next time you have a trans person in front of you, it will be just that much, that much easier. So, you know, there are those messages from, from a doctor sitting here today.

Marianne Oakes:
The four sweetest words any trans person can hear is how can I help? And let them tell you how you can help. If I ask you for help and you’re lost, just say, well, you just repeat that, “How can I help?” that’s all. And let them tell you. The trouble is everybody jumps around in panic, and I need to know, I need to know. And nobody needs to know. Ask them, be guided by them.

Dr Helen Webberley:
At the beginning when I first started GenderGP and the letters and emails came in, I mean, talk about a wealth of information in stories. You know, I felt like the most privileged person in the world to be reading those stories and to be able to learn from those personal accounts, every single one. And it’s just so many, so beautiful. I wish I could share them all with everybody. Cause they just explain it so beautifully what it means to be different in this kind of way. And then as time has gone on, GenderGP has moved to become more well-known, and there are people from other countries coming to GenderGP saying, can you help me? And you know, I know that we have discrimination in our country and the lack of education and some hatred and some difficulties, but there are some other countries who have, I don’t know how to help them. I mean, when, when this started in the UK, people were saying, can you help me? I was like, yes, I can. I don’t know how to, but I’m going to find out, and I’m going to do it. And I’m going to wave that flag until healthcare for people in the UK is better. And I feel so distressed sometimes when I read stories from other people where I can’t help. I don’t know how to help those people because the law, the politics, their society really doesn’t allow it at all. And I feel so tied and inhibited by that. It’s a long way to go. So, when I see the colour now that I can see it and I don’t think that other people can see what I can see, but on my screen, Maryann is in flowers and colour on her blouse. And Taryn couldn’t be more colourful than that on her lips, on her bra straps, on her top. And I’m sitting here quite drab, actually. But that colour is such a positive feeling for the future for our community that we can definitely have an impact on here and hopefully by example, and have an impact in the rest of the world as time goes by. So, what does that colour mean for you, Taryn? Because I know it’s such an important part of your life. And is that, was that colour there always, or is this a kind of a more current thing?

Taryn De Vere:
Well, I first started really making an effort to dress well after I came out of an abusive relationship. And I kind of realized that the worse I felt, the better I dressed. So, I used it as kind of a coping tool. And then I guess I just got to be hooked on it then. And I became more and more kind of over the top and extravagant with it. And I just, I just went full eccentric auntie, you know. And so I haven’t really looked back then. And then it just became a bit of a thing. I actually, the colour you know, black and the colour like browns and beiges and stuff, they just kind of depress me. I’m just, no. I can’t do it. So, I just got rid of everything in my wardrobe that was those colours and decided, well, I’m only going to wear things that make me feel good. And not only does it make me feel good, but every time I’m out in the world in like normal pre-COVID times, people come up, they chat to me, they ask me about my outfit. They tell me how much they love it. They tell me how much they love seeing somebody wearing bright clothes, you know, dressing extravagantly. So, it has an impact. And I enjoy that as well, but mostly I just do it for me.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Well, it certainly brings a smile to my face, that’s for sure. Can you explain your earrings perhaps to those who can’t see them? Cause I think they are absolutely fantastic.

Taryn De Vere:
Aside from my very exciting new role with GenderGP as a social media manager, which has been a lot of fun, very rewarding and amazing work and I’m really excited about, I also run a little jewellery business, mostly on the upcycled jewellery. So, the ones that I’m wearing, I made out of plastic straws, and they are in the trans colours, and they’re quite big. So, some kind of a big chunky kind of, almost down to my shoulders trans flag earrings. So, I like to fly the flag whenever I can.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Really beautiful. Before we finish, I just wondered. And you obviously have—you are a busy person with your work and with campaigning and making the world a better place for that for your daughter and people like your daughter. Is there anything in your work at the moment or your campaigning that you wanted to share or talk about while we’ve got such avid listeners? Any messages you wanted to give?

Taryn De Vere:
I suppose I would just really encourage people to keep spreading the word about the truth about trans children. If you don’t know a trans child or someone with a trans child, you know, reach out, give me a shout on Twitter, or find somebody in your world. Expand your world a bit and find out about it, because trans kids are just like any other kid, you know. I think there was a mother of a trans kid in the UK who started a hashtag a while back, trans kids living. And I just thought she was amazing. And I do it every so often. Whenever my daughter has with the whole day on the computer, I do it. And I say you know. This is what my daughter did today. She got up. She ran, jumped on the trampoline. She did some gardening. We went for a walk, she played with some Lego, and then we had dinner, watched a movie. She went to bed. It is so mundane. It’s exactly what other kids do, you know, trans kids living because trans kids are just like other kids. And so, I love the mundaneness of that. And just, you know, if you want to find out what trans kids’ lives are, like, just look up the trans kids living hashtag and you will see. So, it’s, you know, find—educate yourself, find out about them, learn about it. We’re not all these parents dying to you know, get surgery for small children, which is completely illegal and just doesn’t happen. That’s like a mad kind of myth that’s out there. And I’d love for people to really learn about trans kids in their lives because the negativity that’s in a lot of the discourse around them does have a real-life harmful effect on these kids. And I think that we all, as a society and as a community have a responsibility to not just trans children, but to all children, to make sure that the world is as safe as possible for children. And this is one thing, it’s a small thing that you can do to make life better for them. And that is just read up about trans kids, but read about them from their experience, not from somebody writing about them through their own words.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Yeah.

Marianne Oakes:
Can I ask you then? So, so one of the things I get from a lot of parents is that you know, we don’t want our child to be seen. Very few parents would agree to let their child be seen as trans. We just want, I was going to say normal child to be normal and not have to face the trans. And that the, one of the things I feel is the Achilles heel is the lack of visibility for trans children. That while they are faceless, while they are invisible, there’s such an easy target to demonize. And actually, as you say, the stories are not spectacular. They’re not about transforming. My life story isn’t that spectacular compared to other children. I’m sure there are some people who got far more interesting things going on in their lives than I have. And it’s the ordinariness of it. But because people can’t see that, what they don’t know that will make up. Do you know what I mean? It’s like runes, isn’t it? What we don’t know we will make up. And I think that’s the Achilles heel if I’m allowed to say that.

Taryn De Vere:
Yeah, and the difficult thing there I think is you know, because—and I have this with my own child, do you know? I don’t put, I don’t tell people her name. I don’t tell people about her age. I don’t tell people I don’t put her photo anywhere. And that’s because while she knows I talk about her as a trans girl, and that’s because she has told me she is a hundred per cent fine with me doing that, and she is cut out as a trans girl in a school community of 300-odd children and the parents and in our town, everybody knows. So, it’s not like it’s a big secret that’s been kept, it’s very easy to find that out if you live in our community and it’s commonly known. So, I feel like I’m not really talking about anything that isn’t already out in the public domain, but I am obviously careful about certain things that I talk about, and I don’t put her photo out or anything like that. And that is because she’s too young, really, I think, to be able to give me consent for that. Like if I asked her, she probably would say yes, but will she, would she still be happy with that when she turns 18 or when she’s 25? I don’t know. So, I think that’s a real difficulty. Like you’re saying, Marianne, I really agree with you there, is that it’s a tough one for parents to have, to make that call and only you know your own child. And there are a couple of children who are kind of openly trans children who are out there. And they certainly get a lot of abuse online. Even thinking of Desmond is amazing who isn’t a trans child, but who’s a little drag, a kid who dresses up in drag and does amazing acts and stuff. I mean, he’s had terrible abuse online. And so, there’s that side of things too. You’re opening your child up to all of that. And that’s always been a difficult line for me to walk, especially too, because I’m a really bad kind of secret keeper when it comes to my own life. I’m like, you want to know my life story here it is, I’ll give you everything. So, I find it really hard to like, not say things because I’m like, well, why would you want to keep it a secret? You know, it’s this sort of autistic part of me that really comes out because I’m really bad at not just being very honest. And so, I, you know, I struggle with that. But you have to balance out their privacy, and that does have an impact, as you say, Marianne. It really does have an impact because we, you know, we just don’t have. Trans kids don’t have the visibility. And as you say, people will just create their own narratives. So yeah, a tough one.

Marianne Oakes:
As well though, perhaps, you know, we do have our windows of opportunity to celebrate. So, I don’t know, but maybe, you know, that’s the way forward. That’s how I think the LGBT or the LGB community started getting more visibility was through Pride.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Again, it’s like anything, isn’t it? And again, if I think about my children and, you know, they’ll take a photo of something, of a sibling and they’ll go, I’m going to post that. And there’s like, no, no, I don’t love it like that. And then like, no, it’s a lovely photo. It’s perfect. I’m going to put no, I absolutely not. You’re not posting that. And is, it’s just about that permission, isn’t it? And understanding when someone is old enough to give their consent for that permission to be for that story to be shared. And I do feel sorry for them, for the children who are, who are set rules about how far are you allowed to show yourself in public? You know, it’s okay to do that in the home, but it’s not, that’s not, let’s not do that in the butcher’s shop or the charity shop as you were talking about earlier, Taryn. And you know, it’s difficult, isn’t it? When enforcing rules that don’t exist as a society’s rule, they just exist as a personal rule. It’s a tricky world to navigate. But actually, life is a tricky part to navigate. And parenting is a tricky world to navigate. And I guess being a mom of a trans kid is a tricky road to navigate, and thank you so much, Taryn, for sharing your story and your daughter’s story with us. And a massive warm welcome GenderGP. And I’ve already seen, seen how people are commenting on social, about how amazing you’ve been and how you’ve helped them already. So, thank you from those people, from me to you, and thanks for joining this.

Marianne Oakes:
Thank you, Taryn. Nice to meet you.

Taryn De Vere:
You too, Marianne. Bye.

Marianne Oakes:
Bye.

Dr Helen Webberley:
Bye.

 

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