P.A.R.C. Mag Issue #8 - Page 37

Beth Friesen has an Associate Degree in Mental Health/Human Services and a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a major in Psychology. She has a strong background in human rights and advocacy for women and children. Beth became a champion for LGBTQ when her daughter had identified as transgender several years ago. Since then, Beth has been advocating for her daughter's overall safety as it pertains to schooling and legal changes. Beth has received praise by therapists, lawyers, and others for her consistency and level of advocacy.

"To love unconditionally, it’s accepting, loving and honoring who they are. You must think of your child in the gender they say they are, if you don’t, you will constantly be misgendering them. Another thing that is crucial is that you encourage your transgender child to transition fully in appearance, name, etc. because this will also help those around them to honor their identity."

P.A.R.C. Mag: When did you first become active in the LGBTQ community? What did you notice then, that is different now?

Beth: "Well, I’ve always accepted LGBTQ people and have offered support wherever I could, but it really came about when my own children opened up to me about their LGBTQ status. I knew my first child was gay when he was about 5 years old, but he wasn’t ready to accept it at that time. He finally realized it himself later on, and I was very happy for him. It was then, however, that I realized the level of bigotry and discrimination that LGBTQ people were facing. At that time I became more of an advocate and outspoken about human rights with regards to LGBTQ. Mostly, I focused on gay rights and knew nothing of transgender people.

Beth: "I think back in the 1980’s-90’s things were pretty bad for gay individuals, and the level of torment they were subjected to is why many stayed silent. Today, however, we are in an era where everyone is pretty much out of the closet, and they do not care who knows. The level of openness is keen to that of full blown civil rights movements. LGBTQ people have every right to the same basic human rights as the next person and they are willing to stand up and fight for it. That is the most empowering thing they can do for themselves, and everyone around them. Allies have been taking a stand to support them with the same level of passion and support, and we tend to treat all LGBTQ individuals like our family. So those who oppose had better watch their step, because our children are fiercely protected!"

P.A.R.C. Mag: Our readers may not be aware, but you are the mother of Emily, a featured transgender young woman in March 2017 issue. What did you learn in that timeframe when Emily informed you that she wanted to live her life as a girl? What was your initial reaction and how did you deal with it overall?

Beth: "Yes, I am Emily’s mom and very proud of her too. It takes great courage for transgender individuals to come out and be their authentic selves. I honestly suspected that she might be gay for a long time, she always seemed very feminine to me, and others around her noticed that as well. Emily actually announced that she was a girl, not a boy when she was 17 years old. This was not the first time I’d heard her say something along those lines. She had asked me when she was 3 years old if she was a boy or girl. Sadly, I wasn’t really aware of transgender individuals at that time. I was aware that some folks were seeking sex changes, but had no information about that. Emily had simply asked me a question out of the clear blue and it honestly shocked me, because to my knowledge children already knew their gender, so I was taken aback. My life was in a strange place then, so I wasn’t thinking, “I should investigate this” instead I said what seemed