In Defense Of Trans Actors

One way we can all suck a little less at being trans allies: if a trans voice is speaking, listen to that voice. Just listen. Without arguing.

Today on Facebook, a trans female friend shared an article from Themtitled Why Scarlett Johansson — Or Any Cis Actor — Should Never Play Trans Roles. This is the debate du jour. Hollywood golden girl Scarlett Johansson has been cast to play a transgender man, Dante “Tex” Gill, in a new biopic film, Rub and Tug. Of course, it’s worth mentioning up front that the film’s PR team is justifying casting Johansson in this role by claiming that Tex Gill was “a lesbian that preferred to wear men’s clothing.” Continue reading

DeVos, Severino, And The “Religious Freedom” That Will Harm Our Most Vulnerable

A later version of this story published on Medium

Meet Mimi Lemay, an amazing Mom, trans youth advocate, and someone I’m proud to know through the wonders of technology. Mimi did this MSNBC interview in May, 2016, after the Obama era guidance was issued regarding transgender students in public schools. That guidance clarified how to best support transgender students in schools across the nation, in light of more trans students being “out.” Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released in 2016, under President Obama, joint guidance to help provide educators with the information they needed to ensure that all students could attend school in an environment free from sex discrimination, and that in no uncertain terms included transgender students.  Continue reading

Are Trans Women Really Women? Why Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Answer Matters

Ah, semantics. If ever there was a case for the importance of words and their intended, assumed, or literal meanings, it is this story. In case you haven’t yet heard, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a world-renowned, award-winning Nigerian author and feminist, was recently interviewed by Cathy Newman for the UK’s Channel 4 News and asked if she thought trans women were really women. Specifically, Ms. Newman asked, “…does it matter how you’ve arrived at being a woman – I mean, for example, if you’re a trans woman who grew up identifying as a man, who grew up enjoying the privileges of being a man, does that take away from becoming a woman? Are you any less of a real woman?” In short, Adichie’s answer was, “My feeling is trans women are trans women.”

Notice she didn’t say, “trans women are women.” (If you want to hear just the quote in question, skip to approx. the 2:44 mark).

Adichie went on to explain how if you’ve lived Continue reading

Governor McCrory: My “Boy in a Dress” is Not a Predator

Governor Pat McCrory of N.C. is at it again. His camp released another TV ad yesterday (9/7/16) posing the rhetorical question, “Are we really talking about this?” The question came on the coattails of his claim that while he was “busy raising average teacher pay, creating new jobs and cutting taxes, other folks were actually pushing to make our schools allow boys to use the girls’ locker rooms and showers.”

Yes, Pat. I’m going to go ahead and answer your rhetorical question. We are still talking about this – a conversation that you began.

McCrory actually has a captive, scrutinizing audience with me because I happen to both 1.) work in the public school system, where he falsely persuades North Carolinians to think he has been raising teacher pay averages (but what he doesn’t say is that his “teacher pay average” averages in all school staff, including administration), and 2.) I’m the parent of a little boy who wears dresses. So I’m listening, Pat. You’re talking directly to me. And yes, I will continue to “really talk about this” – the conversation that you started.

While McCrory’s latest ads and interviews seem to be slyly excluding the phrasing about multiple occupancy public restrooms, referring instead mostly to locker rooms and shower facilities, “the bathroom bill” is still the underlying theme playing on the fears of the uninformed. Lest we forget, when they made HB2 into law a few months back, McCrory and his people dubbed it “The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, officially called An Act to Provide for Single-sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities in Schools and Public Agencies” aka, “The Bathroom Bill.”

Just this summer, at a town hall meeting in Cary, NC on August 26, McCrory said, “I don’t think our principals and our superintendents should be subjected to allowing a boy who thinks he’s a girl, but is still a boy, to be able to enter a locker room shower or bathroom facility. It’s a respectful disagreement, but it’s not a disagreement that I should be disrespected for having.”

I’ll just leave that one alone. Kick it around in your brain for a while and you’ll get a headache.

On July 22, the NBA announced its decision to pull the 2017 All-Star game out of North Carolina in protest of HB2. To this, McCrory responded on a talk-radio show, “I strongly disagree with their decision. To put it bluntly, it’s total P.C.B.S. … it’s an insult to our city, and an insult to our state.” He further announced that he believes the NBA is practicing “selective outrage.”

One could take this in many directions, but probably the worst part is where McCrory declares that transgender people wanting equal rights is analogous with being “politically correct.” He questions, “does the desire to be politically correct outweigh our children’s privacy and safety?” Well, Pat, it’s actually not political correctness to believe that LGBTQ+ youth shouldn’t be bullied at school. It’s not political correctness to believe that we should offer these kids protections that we would expect all of our kids to have. Besides, federal court has already ruled that HB2 violates federal law, and has since blocked UNC from enforcing provisions. Hell, even the Governor can’t enforce his law in his own mansion, as several transgender female advocates have used the Ladies Room there in plain sight of security guards with no issue.

People are leaving the state in droves because of Governor McCrory. I’m choosing to stay put. I will not let this man chase me out of my beloved home state. I’m staying to see him led out of office and replaced by someone who can begin to repair and restore the state that I love so much. I’d also like to address McCrory directly. Lord knows I’ve already sent enough e-mails that go unanswered, so, what the heck? I’ll just focus my energy blogging about it instead. So, here goes:

Pat McCrory, I am sickened by your continued use of phrases like “a boy who thinks he’s a girl, but is still a boy,” or one of your other favorites, the infamous “boys in dresses” description that you give to legitimate transgender people. Pat, allow me to direct you to a little education. We’ll call it Transgender 101. Lesson one is simple: Transgender girls are girls. They are not “boys in dresses.” But to really understand transgender people, or Native American “two-spirit” people, or gender non-conforming people is much deeper than that. We’ll save that for another day. Right now, the issue I have with raising a young, impressionable, gender non-conforming boy, is why do you feel the need to use and repeat the phrase ad nauseam, “boys in dresses?” Why not “girls in pants?” I’ll tell you why not. Because the assumption of blockheads like you, Pat, is that ALL boys are predators, and women are meek, lowly figures who need protection at all costs, especially in public restrooms and locker room facilities.

My husband and I were blessed with one of each type of child: a cisgender 16-year-old male, a cisgender 14-year-old female, and a gender non-conforming 10-year-old boy who prefers all things sparkly, pink, frilly, and soft. He is on a journey right now. In fact, he has been all of his life. He is sorting through his gender identity and right now he identifies as neither male nor female, but some combination of both. It’s a notion I wouldn’t expect you to understand (I can hear you right now saying, “bless his heart, he’s so confused”) but actually, my husband and I see this as a gift, and so does he. There is no confusion. Regardless, because he’s a gender-bender, my son is actually one of those “boys in dresses” that you keep taunting, and I’d like you to know that he is the exact opposite of a predator. Anyone who knows my son will vouch for his peaceful, loving, accepting spirit, and avoidance of confrontation. In fact, with this climate you’ve recently created, he’s so scared for his own safety right now that he doesn’t even use either restroom in public. He looks for gender neutral, or family bathrooms so that he can avoid confrontation of any kind.

I promise you, Pat, when my gender non-conforming child actually works up his nerve to wear one of his beloved dresses in public, HE is the one who has to fear for his safety. Because you, Governor McCrory, are only interested in protecting a minuscule fraction of society (women whom you perceive as needing some sort of predator protection in public accommodations), you don’t protect the greater good; you don’t seem to understand that a transgender man who opts not to have bottom surgery (that means having a penis built onto his body), but for all intents and purposes looks and dresses exclusively male on the outside, is now guaranteed to be in the women’s restroom, because he was born without a penis. A very masculine looking man going into the women’s room, because that’s the law. I give a sarcastic slow clap in your general direction for managing to vote IN to law exactly what you were trying to vote OUT of law.

McCrory, you have hand-fed the very ignorant monsters who perpetuate this perverted predator in the restroom myth. YOUR people are the dangerous people. Not “boys in dresses.” Boys in dresses are not yet the same thing as transgender girls, but they’re still in some stage of transformation. Boys who wear dresses in public (which is, yet again, different than “drag queens,” or “cross-dressers,” – refer back to Transgender 101, basic vocabulary) are some of the bravest, fiercest, most sincere souls walking this earth. Do you have ANY idea how much bravery it takes for a young boy to wear a dress in public? It takes balls of steel, and I’m not sure how much more “manly” it gets than that.

Pat, YOUR people are the monsters, the predators. YOUR people are the ones to fear, the ones who would laugh at, question, or have a physical altercation with my young son, or me, or his dad, because he chooses to wear a dress. And this isn’t even happening in public bathrooms. The damage he endures happens out in public, in broad daylight.

Pat, you have no idea what you’re doing. You are completely blind to the irony of the situation you have created, when just months ago, no one was the wiser, and transgender people peed beside cisgender people all along. No true, harmful incidents have ever occurred because some man decided to slap on a dress in order to peep in women’s stalls. Despite your law, which is completely unenforceable, “peeping” is a totally separate issue, and is still a crime, regardless of who’s doing it.

My husband and I cannot flush you and your legacy down the toilet fast enough at the polls this season.




My gender non-conforming son is growing his hair out long so that he can put it into a braid.

The First Time My Son Chose to Wear a Dress in Public


It was the day before an event for which I was speaking. I had just finished up work and was heading out for the day when I realized this would be the last opportunity to run some last minute errands before my speaking event. I had my ten-year-old son with me since he attends school where I work. Our first stop was going to be at a women’s clothing store to pick up some accessories that matched my dress. I had just been in there to purchase my new dress. The store was nice, but not fancy, with a huge display of bright and colorful spring ensembles and dresses in the latest trending patterns and fabrics. I knew that my son would be in complete awe.

As I’ve written about before, my youngest child is gender creative. This means that he does not want to change his anatomy or be a girl (at least not at this point in his life). He simply prefers all the things that are marketed to girls, and tends to bond better with girls than with boys. Continue reading

Listen to Your Mother

In January, 2016, a long-time theatre friend told me about local auditions for an event called Listen to Your Mother. I had never heard of this event, so I looked into it. It was a live reading event, much like a Tedx Talk, but from the perspective of  (or about) motherhood. Cast members could be men or women, mothers, sons, daughters, or grandchildren, telling their stories on what their mother or mother-figure taught them, or on what the learned from being a mother – in its many senses of the word. There were humorous stories, thought-provoking stories, and tear-jerkers. There were controversial topics and universally embraced themes. It seemed right up my alley, since I’ve been performing on stage for 30+ years, and blogging about being a parent to a gender creative child for 8 years. Continue reading

The Moment I Knew My Son Was Different

(originally published on The Huffington Post)

The year was 2010, and my youngest son was 4. I felt that I shouldn’t have to justify why I thought it was okay for him to wear a princess costume whenever he felt like it. But, I found that I often did, if only to placate the masses. Perhaps, I thought, it could even enlighten someone. I thought if I could get just one person to see what is true, what is healthy, and what is good about harmless self-expression, I would be more at peace.

Coincidentally, around the same time that my son was heavily into princess play and dress-up, there was all this controversy going around about little boys who like to dress up in princess costumes. Continue reading

My Rockstar Boy Wears Twinkle Toe Sneakers

(originally published on The Huffington Post)

It’s me, the mom who shared this piece that was featured on the front page of HuffPost for a few days: Why I Refuse to Apologize for My Son Wearing a Dress. And earlier, this one, in the Voices section: When Your 4th Grade Son is Called “Gay.” Today was our shoe shopping day. My 10-year-old needed shoes badly, as his big toe had finally pushed through the few strands of fabric that were holding the toe cap together for the past two months. Continue reading

Why I Refuse to Apologize for My Son Wearing a Dress

(originally published on The Huffington Post)

Transgender: The American “hot button” du jour. Even as I type this article, Dr. Phil is on the TV in the background, interviewing a man who is sobbing over the pain he feels with his adult son transitioning to female. He feels that “someone has got him;” that “something has come over” his son. He absolutely cannot accept his son as anything other than male.

He is shaking and seething as Dr. Phil says, “We’re going to soon meet ‘Steph’,” (the man’s trans daughter, who wishes to debut as her “authentic self” on national TV). Earlier today, Kathie Lee & Hoda were answering viewer’s questions on gender stereotypes, discussing gender non-specific toys, as if this were the latest politically correct semantics dance, a passing hoopla for which we should get on board if we want to appear “social savvy.”

If I could have one wish granted right now, it would be Continue reading

When Your 4th Grade Son is Called ‘Gay’

(originally published on The Huffington Post)

I guess it’s the inevitable happening. But I was hoping it wouldn’t. My 9-year-old gender creative son has become acutely aware that most of society thinks a little boy owning stereotypical “girls’ stuff” is inappropriate. Though he boldly chose, and wears to school a backpack matching his personality: a glittery rainbow explosion of kittens, hearts, and cupcakes, in 4th grade, he is excluded by peers. Almost overnight he has learned the ugly truth about gender stereotypes. In our house, we don’t have “boy toys” or “girl toys.” The understanding for our family of five is that we just have “toys,” and everyone can play. Continue reading