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.