COVER STORY

StarMetro Vancouver - - COVER STORY - TESSA VIKAN­DER

SFU pro­fes­sor Ann Travers is the au­thor of a new book about how trans kids and their par­ents are start­ing a gen­der rev­o­lu­tion. When 15-year-old Tru Wil­son was a young kid, she was a fem­i­nine boy named “Tray.”

“My par­ents ac­cepted me and thought ‘Oh that’s just Tray, he’s a very fem­i­nine boy and fig­ur­ing him­self out,’” she told Starmetro.

But as Wil­son got older, her fem­i­nin­ity got stronger. Her dad was wor­ried she’d be bul­lied, so when Tray was 8, her mom did some re­search and found a doc­u­men­tary on trans kids.

“She showed it to me and was like ‘this is a thing, are you this thing?’” Wil­son re­called. “Once the doc­u­men­tary ended, I broke down cry­ing, and was like ‘This is me, do you still love me?’”

Her mom told her, “‘Yes, of course we still love you.’ ” She then took Wil­son shop­ping for fem­i­nine cloth­ing.

Wil­son was 9 when she be­gan tran­si­tion­ing to pre­sent­ing as a girl, and in the years that fol­lowed, she and her fam­ily have be­come vo­cal ad­vo­cates in the trans-rights move­ment. In fact, they made head­lines in 2013 when they filed a hu­man-rights com­plaint against Van­cou­ver’s Catholic school board when it re­fused to ac­cept Wil­son as a girl.

New re­search out of Simon Fraser Univer­sity shows par­ents and kids like the Wil­sons are in­ject­ing power into the trans-rights move­ment.

Ann Travers, a trans­gen­der pro­fes­sor in so­ci­ol­ogy and an­thro­pol­ogy who spent five years re­search­ing this is­sue, de­tails the new find­ings in a book called The Trans Gen­er­a­tion: How Trans Kids (and Their Par­ents) are Cre­at­ing a Gen­der Rev­o­lu­tion.

“For the long­est time, trans­gen­der kids hid in the shad­ows, if they were able to,” said Travers, who also noted that some vis­i­bly non­gen­der-con­form­ing trans kids were never able to hide.

El­iz­a­beth Saewyc, head of UBC School of Nurs­ing and a lead re­searcher on trans­gen­der youth health, said the ma­jor­ity of kids know their gen­der at a very young age. In­creas­ingly, she said, trans peo­ple are com­ing out when they’re kids and teenagers, rather than wait­ing un­til they have more in­de­pen­dence as an adult.

Travers found this is hap­pen­ing thanks to a com­bi­na­tion of in­creased vis­i­bil­ity of trans adults, and par­ents who are lis­ten­ing to their kids.

Michelle Wil­son, Tru’s mom, lis­tened.

JEN­NIFER GAU­THIER FOR STARMETRO

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