I wish I’d had this book to give to my parents and siblings and other relatives in 1976, the year that I transitioned. Or maybe even before. I don’t know if it would have made a difference with some, but I think it would have helped with most, and it would have made my life a lot easier for sure. Mom, I Need To Be a Girl is written by a the parent of a teenaged son who soon became a teenaged daughter. The author, Just Evelyn, is a friend that I met at the second International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy in 1993. Evelyn had called me several months prior, seeking legal advice for dealing with her teenaged transgender. As I told her then, she was welcome to the conference, but at that time we were timid about dealing with anyone under eighteen. You just never knew what the fanactic, religious right, conservatives would do, so we mostly told them to call us back when they became eighteen years old. That was 1993.
Evelyn’s book, just released this month, will certainly be a good guide for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins who love and recognize that their family member is, at age eight or ten, twelve or fourteen, and has been socially trapped in the wrong gender role. There is a lot of love in this book. And there is a lot of searching and soul searching as well. I do not understand why family members feel guilty when they learn of a loved one being transgender, but they often do, and this book will certainly help in that area as well.
One of the things that I admire so about Evelyn is that she is not afraid to sound-off at those in the so-called “helping professional” area who do not really help, but charge a fee to transgender clients who then educate those professionals or serve as research data and are provided little actual help. Evelyn blasts several. She also takes the reader step by step through all of the challenges, including school, restrooms and gym class. She also has a good list of references in the back.
The last time I visited with Evelyn was while I was in San Diego for a conference. Just because Evelyn’s daughter has grown up and gone on into the world of adulthood, does not mean that Evelyn has forgotten how to care. She still reaches out to assist community members who are deeply closeted and need someone to to talk to who is safe (from police and the toughs who might assault them). She shares an extensive video library of talk shows and others where the TG issue has been expressed. She even has my appearance on the “Phil Donahue Show” from 1991.
I want to say now that I would not really want to change anything about my past life. Every cause had its effect, and if I changed anything, I’d not be legally, same-sex married to my wonderful Trish (silver anniversary is only two months from tomorrow), and I’d not have my wonderful son and his wife and our grandchild. But I do know that if this book had come out in the mid 1960s and if my parents had read and understood (a real key, yes) it, maybe I would not have been so fearful when they discovered my cross-dressing back in 1965. It was my high school senior year when my stash of women’s underclothes was discovered. You could cut my parents’ homophobia with dull knife: it permeated the air. I knew that I had to tell them it was just an experiment, for I feared that the truth would have caused me to become a homeless youth and on the street at 17.
I hope that you will purchase and use Evelyn’s book. Send it to any parent who is having trouble. Send it to PFLAG Chapters so maybe they will see that TG work belongs in their mission statement as well. It is a very good tool.