P.A.R.C. Mag Issue #8 - Page 38

right, and that was to point out the physical reasons she wasn’t a girl. It probably was the most damaging thing I could have done, but without more information, and without her persisting with it, that is how it was. In about 2013 I started hearing stories of transgender children coming out, and by the end of that year, I heard about Jazz Jennings, a pretty well known transgender girl. It was when Emily and I were watching a video of Jazz’s story that Emily realized she was like Jazz. I think it was shortly after that, once she had done a lot of self-processing that she came to me. I knew something was up, she had been acting very secretive for a while, and so the day came, and I was relieved to hear that she had finally realized who she was. I think my response was that “You mean I have a daughter?” I was ecstatic! I think it was more than what she had hoped for, but we hugged and cried and discussed her future."

"I talked to Emily about a safe way to come out to close family and friends. She was understandably scared to trust anyone other than me, but she did finally come out to her dad, her brother, and then opted for a letter to other extended family members. All our family lives in another state, and since she never sees them it wasn’t something that had to happen immediately. I talked with Emily about a ‘birth announcement” coming out, and she agreed that would be the best way. So I created a birth announcement much like you would when you are having a newborn child, and so Emily was born. We took immediate steps to change her legal identity and thankfully she was born in Oregon because if she had been born here in North Dakota, her gender marker could not have been legally changed. Thankfully, Basic Rights Oregon provided a pro-bono lawyer who said that Emily’s case would set precedence for children like her. It took nearly a year to get her birth certificate and gender marker changed, but she got it. It took far less time to get her name and other legal documents changed. US Federal laws are in place to protect transgender individuals, so they can get these documents changed without incidence. "

P.A.R.C. Mag: What strides do you feel that the LGBTQ community has made? What do you think can be done to achieve equality for this community? What do you feel is still lacking or needs significant improvement?

Beth: "I think the LGBTQ community has come a long way with getting laws changed, bringing awareness to equal rights and human rights for all LGBTQ individuals. This is perhaps one of the most talked about topics in the last 3 -5 years. There is definitely an uphill battle because of some pretty ridged human thinking errors. I think the advocates just need to keep plugging away at it, and keeping it in the forefront of the human rights agenda. Overall, the biggest hurdle, in my opinion, is that religious beliefs hinder acceptance. Not all religious people are rejecting, but sadly they do use their religion to justify their bigotry and make laws against human rights. This is why it’s imperative that the LGBTQ community and others, fight for separation of church and state. Laws should not be made based on religion and they should be made for acceptance of all human rights, as the US constitution states. If we can ever get past that, this world would be a much healthier and accepting one.

P.A.R.C. Mag: Tell us about any advocacy projects or organizations that you are a part of? What has been your role there?

Beth: I did join PFLAG for a time, but there are no locations in North Dakota, so being active in that group isn’t feasible. I do, however, manage an online secular support group for parents of transgender kids. This started because other support groups that were available were filled with a great deal of religious dogma, and offered very little in the way of support and acceptance without realistic and valuable support. This group is a closed Facebook group and is exclusively for parents of transgender kids, the age of their children does not matter. All new members are screened, so they will need to respond to Facebook messenger requests for screening. I have started other transgender Facebook groups and turned them over to transgender individuals to manage. I feel it’s better to empower them so they can advocate for themselves in their own communities. As a parent, I feel that I can do a great deal to promote support within the parent community. Although