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Trans Equality

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community: Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead
Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community 495 401 cj

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community: Reflecting Back and Looking Ahead

Gains and Losses in our LGBTQ+ Community

By Leo Kirkham

The New Year is a time for reflection and renewal. For the LGBTQ community, the New Year can be a time to remember the past year’s accomplishments and losses for queer and trans people.

There is no denying that 2022 was a difficult year for the LGBTQ community. From the Club Q mass shooting that left 5 dead, 19 injured, and an entire community grieving and destabilized, to armed far right Proud Boy protesters shutting down drag queen story times, our right to gather and express ourselves freely is being threatened by violence, intimidation, and hate.

2022 was a record year for anti-LGBTQ legislation: over 162 bills restricting LGBTQ rights were introduced in state legislatures. 58 were related to youth athletics, 44 had restrictions on curriculum, 30 had restrictions on adolescent healthcare, and 17 were related to religious and First Amendment exemptions.

But things are not all bad for the LGBTQ community. We are continuing to live and thrive as our authentic selves despite the hostility in the world.

In hopeful news, the House and the Senate just passed the Respect for Marriage Act, protecting same-sex and interracial marriages. Reception from the LGBTQ community has been mixed: on the one hand, the law passed and will protect same-sex marriages if the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges. On the other hand, it does not require states to legalize same-sex marriage, only to recognize legal marriages from other states.

Earlier this year, clinical trials began for three different HIV vaccines.

The Biden Administration began paying survivor’s benefits to LGBTQ elders.

Brittney Griner, a WNBA basketball star and Black lesbian, was just released from a Russian penal colony where she was held for ten months for possession of a vape containing hashish oil. She was returned to the U.S. during a prisoner exchange negotiated by the Biden administration.

This year, the “X” gender marker (an alternative to “F” and “M”) became available on U.S. passports. The Social Security Administration also no longer requires a doctor’s note to confirm a change of gender.

A new California bill will protect trans kids and their families fleeing states like Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Idaho which are criminalizing gender affirming healthcare for trans youth. SB 107 in California, proposed by Scott Wiener, will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

So what can we expect next year? We can only expect to see the progress that we fight for. The successes that we see in our public sphere and private lives must be celebrated as we continue to work toward justice and equality.

What are you doing next year for queer and trans kids? Some ways to give back are to donate to organizations like Equality Texas, Equality Florida, Trans Lifeline, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. You can also give a gift to a transgender youth this holiday season through Trans Santa. Consider joining your school board and advocating for LGBTQ students in your school district. Looking for more resources to support your child or trans youth in general? Check out

Next year, we can expect to see queer and trans resilience, excellence, love, and joy. We’re here, we’re queer, and it’s a new year.

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week
Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week 495 401 cj

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

Celebrating Transgender Awareness Week

By Leo Kirkham

Five Topics to Learn About This Transgender Awareness Week

It’s Transgender Awareness Week, which runs from November 13 to 19, 2022 and culminates in National Trangender Day of Remembrance, November 20.

What is Transgender Day of Remembrance?

November 20 is the National Transgender Day of Remembrance, which started as a vigil for Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in 1998. Founded by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith, the vigil honored all transgender people lost to anti-trans violence that year, and became an annual observance.

One way to be a trans ally is to attend a local Transgender Day of Remembrance vigil. The vigil often involves reading a list of names of transgender people who died that year. Gender Justice LA is hosting a vigil and so is LA CA Network.

What are transgender youth facing right now?

In the current culture, there is a strong anti-trans backlash against the social progress that has been made for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Transgender youth are facing the brunt of this backlash, under the guise of “protecting children” from the “harm” of progressive gender norms.

In Florida, all transgender youth undergoing medical transition are being detransitioned and banned from receiving gender-affirming medical care. Many other states are considering bills to restrict or ban transition-related medical care for minors, and even for adults. Still other states are banning transgender students from participating in sports – even in states where there are no out transgender students trying to compete in sports.

According to the Trevor Project, 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health. More than half of transgender and nonbinary youth considered suicide in the past year.

Is the news all bad?

No When transgender and nonbinary youth live with people who respect their pronouns, they attempt suicide at half the rate as trans and nonbinary youth who lives with people who don’t. Trans and nonbinary youth are less suicidal when their schools, homes, and online spaces are transgender-affirming. And when those trans and nonbinary youth have access to gender affirming name changes and birth marker changes on legal documents, they have lower suicide attempts (Trevor Project).

In short: If you are a parent to a transgender youth and you are reading this, your child is safer and has better mental health as a direct result of your love and support.

Additionally, progress is being made nationally for transgender and LGBTQ rights. At least 16 states and Washington D.C. are ranked as “high” for gender equality, according to the Movement Advancement Project. That’s where 45% of the LGBTQ population lives. In 2020, the Supreme Court held that LGBTQ employees are protected from workplace discrimination. In 2021, the Biden administration extended Title IX protections to transgender students by requiring that schools receiving federal funding not discriminate on the basis of gender identity (U Chicago).

What about transgender history? Where can I learn about that?

Transgender people are in the news a lot right now – but we’re not new. We’ve been around for thousands of years, as long as human culture has.

Since ancient times, hijras in India and kathoeys in Thailand have formed social and spiritual communities with each other, centered around a transfeminine third gender role. Before European colonization and in modern times, North American Indigenous cultures have recognized Two-Spirit identities: people who reach beyond the traditional male and female gender roles. There were Roman priests and a Roman emperor (Elagabalus) believed to be trans women.

In more modern history, the early 1900s saw the first gender affirmation surgeries. Much progress was made by Magnus Hirschfeld at the German Institute of Sex Research for transgender medicine and trans rights, before his work was destroyed by the Nazi Party in 1933. In 1952, American trans woman Christine Jorgensen’s gender transition brought awareness to North America of sex reassignment surgery.

Lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender people fought back against police violence in the 1959 Coopers Donuts Riots, 1966 Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, and the 1969 Stonewall Riots. In the 1970s, Lou Sullivan started FTM International and pioneered visibility for gay trans men. At the same time, feminist groups began to resist the inclusion of trans women in their spaces, which has become known as trans-exclusionary radical feminism. In the 1980s, trans women were victims of the AIDS crisis alongside gay and bisexual men. By the 1990s and 2000s, the Transgender Day of Remembrance had begun and trans marches were gaining popularity. Trans people began to be elected to public offices, and legislation began to recognize the rights of people regardless of gender identity and expression (Wikipedia).

What else should I educate myself on as an ally?

Some important issues to be aware of as an ally are intersectionality and the ways that transgender people of color are doubly impacted by racism and transphobia. For example, Black trans people and other trans people of color are more likely to be discriminated against in a job, be homeless, experience interpersonal violence, or experience mental health problems. Trans people of color have higher rates of poverty and more barriers to receiving gender affirming medical care and legal name and gender marker changes (National LGBTQ Taskforce).

Transgender people are diverse. We come in as many varieties as you can imagine. Which means that trans people carry other marginalized identities alongside being transgender: trans people can be gay, lesbian, or bisexual as well; we can be disabled or neurodivergent; we can be people of color; we can be poor, homeless, or incarcerated. Being aware of the issues facing transgender people and other diverse groups in society is the first step to being a good trans ally.

Happy Transgender Awareness Week. Thank you for reading and learning with us.

May 2021 blog feature image transgender flag graphic with moon phases
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When It’s Not A Phase

May 2021 blog feature image transgender flag graphic with moon phases

When It’s Not A Phase

Parents of transgender children are often asked, “When did you suspect?” The answer to that question varies as no two kids are alike. But a common theme often emerges: there wasn’t one single instance, but rather dozens of small signs that added up to “suspecting.”

Some examples of “signs” that parents have noticed is the insistence on stereotypical “girl” or “boy” clothing, hair styles, and toys that do not correlate to the child’s biological gender at birth. Many parents share that when their child is told they cannot wear the clothes they prefer, or not allowed to play with certain toys, their child expresses intense sadness. But when allowed to express themselves in the clothing and hairstyles of their choosing, their child is filled with joy. The collection of these signs point to an unwavering truth: their child knows their gender identity.

It is important to acknowledge when a child is asserting things about themselves that are a part of their identity. For some parents this can be overwhelming and confusing.

Researchers at the University of Washington found that gender identity (the concept of knowing whether one’s self is male, female, or non-binary) is as strong in transgender  kids, including those who are neurodiverse, as it is among typically developing children. An interesting component of this study is that transgender children’s gender development mirrors that of neurotypical and neurodiverse children, and that they can start to identify with clothes and toys in line with their authentic gender from a rather young age.

Gender – defined

 An infant does not know what it means to be a boy or girl. They discover the meaning of these words from their parents, older children, and the people in their lives. Young children also receive a lot of messages from their culture and the media: boys wear blue clothes and like sports, and girls wear pink and like to play with dolls. But a person’s actual gender does not exist in the binary terms of boy/girl and male/female. Rather, gender is more of a spectrum with people expressing and identifying with degrees of masculinity and femininity. Feeling comfortable with our own gender identity and expression is vital to the way we see ourselves and how we engage with the world.

A transgender person identifies along this spectrum, but also identifies as a gender different from the one biologically assigned based on genitalia. A child is deemed to be transgender by behavior and expression that is consistent, insistent, and persistent about their identity. A transgender child will typically insist over the course of many years that they are not the gender they were assigned at birth.

For transgender kids, family and commuinity support is essential to establish comfort in their true sense of self. Research has shown that when a young person receives affirmative support from parents, grandparents, family members, teachers, and peers, there is greatly improved mental health and well-being. It is important to point out that the research shows that transgender young people are at a greater risk of suicide as a result of rejection and bullying. The reality is, support for a transgender child can make all of the difference to insuring that your child is thriving.

Parenting a Transgender Child

Parents of transgender children go through a transition process along with their child, and that transition carries with it a lot of emotions. A parent may feel genuinely happy and excited for their child as they embark on this new journey, but there may also be feelings of confusion, sadness, anger, and loss. When a child tells their parents that they are not the gender they were biologically born with, a parent can feel frightened and unsure about what the future may hold for their child. Parents of transgender children should remind themselves that all feelings about this experience are valid.

Experts suggest that parents be kind to themselves but also work through their emotions away from their child and perhaps with the care of a mental health professional. Each family member may react differently and come to acceptance at different times. Talking about this experience with a therapist can be helpful. The Kaleidoscope Program provides therapeutic services for neurotypical and neurodiverse transgender children, and their parents. Our therapists have expertise with supporting neurotypical and neurodiverse transgender children and their families, and can provide guidance and tools to assist with the transition.

It may not be a phase.

While many children and teens go through “phases” such as dying their hair black, or being obsessed with a celebrity, this is very different than being transgender. It can be very hurtful for a transgender child if a parent dismisses their thoughts and behavior as a phase. Many transgender children rely on their parents and family members for support and acceptance, as they may not experience acceptance in environments outside of the home.

Parents can show support for their transgender child in a number of ways. To begin, parents should try to make a true effort to use the names and pronouns that align with their child’s gender identity. Further, parents can advocate for their child at their school to make sure there are systems in place that will support and protect their child such as gender neutral bathrooms and locker room spaces. And most importantly, assure your child that they have your unconditional love and support – always.

Thank you Bryan for your insight and guidance. If you are interested in joining our Kaleidoscope Parent Group or have questions about the group, please email.

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Kaleidoscope Pride!

Kaleidoscope Pride!

It is with great excitement that we are launching the Kaleidoscope website, as we are thrilled to be able to reach more people and provide support.  It is also a happy coincidence that this launch coincides with LGBTQ+ Pride month!  We are certainly proud to be able to work with our LGBTQ+ youth and young adults and we also encourage them to feel proud of who they are.  Check out our Events page to find out where you and your families can show your support by attending Pride events this month.  You may encounter us at a Kaleidoscope booth when you do…  Please say hello!

What is the significance of showing LGBTQ+ Pride?  Perhaps in your own family, you’ve heard the question asked, “Why don’t people just keep that private?  I’m straight and I don’t feel the need to throw a parade about it.”

To address that question fully, we need to go back to the not-so-distant past… Straight, cisgender people were never thrown in jail for being born that way.  However, being LGBT was a criminal offense in California until 1975!  Until then, patrons of gay bars were often placed under arrest and their names were printed in local newspapers, leading to being fired from jobs and ostracized from families.  It was also a criminal offense to be in public wearing articles of clothing that did not “match” the gender on one’s identification!  It took acts of civil disobedience (basically, standing up and being proud of who we are in the face of intense opposition) to change laws and be treated more equally.

This struggle for equality continues to this day.  And to be seen, we must be visible.  In battling a 1978 proposition that would make it legal for teachers suspected of being LGBT in California to be fired, Harvey Milk shouted the battle cry “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”  Today, we understand that coming out is a challenging and ongoing process that must be done safely at the own pace of each individual.  For those who are safely able to, however, standing up and being seen and affirmed for who we are can be an incredibly empowering act.  And it helps others to be able to do the same.

Perhaps Artem Kolesov said it best:  “We don’t come out for heterosexual people to know.  We don’t come out for the ones who hate us to know.  We shout and make as much noise as possible just so other people like us who are scared and can’t be themselves would know that they are not a mistake and they are not alone.”

At Kaleidoscope, we hope to help you see that – although you are beautifully unique – you are not alone.  Whether you are able to express who you are to just one supportive person or to the world from atop a parade float, you bring your own colorful expression to this world.  You are special.  We are here to support you.  We are proud to stand with you.  In fact, at Kaleidoscope, we are proud of you!