Trans icons Fox and Owl Fisher took over our Twitter this week, for a live Q&A. If you missed it, you’re in luck! Because we’ve collated their answers below…
What advice would you give to a trans teen on coming out to friends and family?
Fox & Owl: Both of us wrote letters to our parents that we asked them to read, and then we had a conversation with them. Obviously, there are loads of factors at play here – depending on your relationship with your parents, etc.
The most important thing is to make sure you make arrangements in case your parents don’t react well – such as making sure you have friends or other family members that can support you through it. Reach out to support groups and get advice from youth workers who work in the field.
There are many great organisations out there that offer support to trans teens and their families, such as @Mermaids_Gender and @Genderintell – reach out to them! They can also offer advice to your parents and help them with their process.
It’s good to remember that it will take the people around you time to come to terms with it. For both of us it took our parents over a year to fully come to terms with things, use the right names, pronouns and so on. When you transition, your whole world transitions too!
So, try to remember that even though things might seem tough, there is always a chance things will get better and those around you will come around. But if they don’t, it’s also important for you to protect your own mental health and have a good support network.
Make sure you do some proper self-care and make sure you surround yourself with people that do support you. Don’t forget to tend to the things that you love, and still aim to achieve your dreams. We’re more than just trans, and it’s only one part of who we are.
How do I deal with transphobia when nobody believes me?
We’re sorry that you’re experiencing transphobia. It’s really tough to have to deal with it on a daily basis. It’s important to remember that there are always people that WILL believe you. There are always people that will care.
It of course depends on what sort of transphobia you’re receiving – whether that’s at work, within family, or from strangers on a daily basis. Keeping a log and documenting what is happening can be very helpful, especially if it’s something that you can report.
Logging things and reporting them might not seem like it’s very helpful, but it definitely is helpful in case something more serious happens as it builds up a pattern of intelligence.
Most importantly you need to seek support from the trans community around you, from support groups and find people that can relate to your experiences and believe and listen to you. There are also counsellors and social workers that can help out.
Just know that you’re not alone and there is a huge community of trans people out there that WILL believe you. It might seem very frustrating and hopeless at times, but we get it. We really do.
So, keep strong, confide in friends and make sure you’re taking care of yourself. You know your experiences and what you go through, and no one can take that away from you.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when writing your book, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge we had was trying to fit in such a huge amount of information into one book! There is still loads that we wish we could include but making it into a concise book with advice is harder than it might seem.
There is so much to talk about and so much that needs to be said – trying to create something like this therefore seemed like a monstrous task! But we managed to cut it down into the chapters in the book, and that was one of the more difficult things.
It’s also hard with all the other work that we’re doing, such as creating films for @mygenderation, but we had to devote enough time to really do it. We also wanted to include the community, so we made sure we got stories from people within the community.
Perhaps the most difficult thing was having to deal with the death of our dear friend Christina L. Bentley – she started a tumblr blog under the same name and was happy for us to use a similar title to create this book. We’re sad she never got to see the book itself.
So we devoted the book to her, and we miss her so dearly. The process became so much more important to us after she died. We hope that she is proud of it and that it will be of use to trans people and their families.
What is the best way for a young trans adult to “come out” to their parents? I think my mum will take it better than my dad, so I am thinking of telling them separately?
As we mentioned in an earlier tweet, we both wrote a letter and told her parents to read it and then have a conversation with us about it. Sometimes it’s easier to read things down as saying it out loud can be really difficult.
It’s definitely easier to do it one at a time – just do it in a way that feels right. You know your parents, and you know best how to approach them. It might surprise you how they take it, and with both of us our parents surprised us quite a lot with their reactions.
It might take them some time, but most parents that love and support their children realise that they either support their kids or they won’t have them in their life at all – just make sure you have a good support network and make arrangements in case it gets tough!
What advice would you give to a teacher or headteacher desperate to support a trans or gender non-conforming student? Nerves and wanting so hard to get it right can sometimes mean getting it wrong or avoiding the issue altogether.
@stonewalluk has great resources and programmes that can help you and your school become a safe environment for trans and GNC students. Seek out advice from such organisations and connect with other schools.
We’ve visited a few schools that have really got it right – they all have support groups for the students where they can come together and socialise, as well as a designated staff member they can come to if there is ever anything. They need to know that they will be supported.
Stack your library with some books on the topics – there is an array of books by Jessica Kingsley and other publishers about trans issues that would be great for students to have access to and for teachers to read.
Most importantly you have to remember to let the students lead the way themselves. All of them are individuals with their own lives and experiences, and it should always be lead by them and what they wish. Make sure you really listen to them and educate yourself on the topic.
Don’t be afraid to support them and don’t be fearful. You might get it wrong some place along the way, but if your intent is good and you want to support them, then you’ll get to the right path by trying your best and keep moving forward.
Familiarise yourself with policies and how other schools deal with these issues, and make sure you get other staff members on board with this. It’s important to have support from everyone around and make sure everyone is ready to create a safer environment for their students.
What do you think helps trans teens to develop self-esteem & the resilience to shrug off all the nonsense that is out there in the world? What can family members, teachers, friends do to help?
Thanks for the question. It’s about taking time for yourself, and to tend to what you love doing. All this nonsense in the press might seem overwhelming at times, but just remember that there are so many people out that that will support you.
We are all so much more than trans – and the best that we can do to combat misconceptions is to simply be ourselves and live our lives doing what we love doing. So, hang out with friends, work towards your dreams. Do the things you love, and don’t let the haters grind you down.
There is such a huge community out there that will support you and can see through the nonsense. Surround yourself with people with similar experiences and seek advice and help from them. Speaking to someone about it and affirming your own thoughts about certain topics helps.
Trans allies can help by checking in with their loved ones, helping them out with everyday errands, like going to the bank, filling in forms etc. Use the person´s chosen pronouns and name. Continue to spend time and treat them as you always have. Know they are still the same person.
So many media stories about trans teens are scaremongering, negative, or focused on medical transition. What are the stories we are not hearing? How can we give platforms to trans teens to share stories where being trans is just part of what they have to say?
Gosh, there are so many stories we aren’t hearing! We’re not hearing about the kids that are thriving and doing well because they are supported and loved for being who they are. We’re not hearing about how these kids massively benefit from being allowed to be themselves.
We’re not hearing about the horrific bullying that trans kids experience, both from their peers as well as teachers and service workers. We never get to focus on the hardship trans kids are going through for simply being themselves. We never get to listen to the actual kids.
We never get to hear about how difficult it is to access services, and how they often fail trans kids. We just always hear about how young kids are being given hormones and shipped off to surgery, which is obvious made up fiction and scare mongering.
We never hear about the reasons why they often suffer from poor mental health – which is because they aren’t supported. A body of research shows very high levels of self-harm, bullying and suicide – but we never have an outcry about why this is happening and how we can stop it.
All that is amplified in the media are the voices of people that have probably never had a single conversation with a trans child or their families. It’s from people that have no point of reference and often have spent no time reading modern research or stories from trans kids.
Trans kids literally have no voice in the media. And they’re suffering because of this – the people that are suffering the most are the people we don’t hear from – the kids that aren’t even out because they are so scared and terrified how the public discourse or reactions.
Most people learn about trans people from people like themselves. Most people don’t actually learn about it from trans people, which is where the problem lies. We need to start giving a voice to trans kids and their families – only they can really know what it’s like.
It’s difficult to say how to get those voices out there – because the media seems more interested in pure fiction and absolute nonsense than actual facts, figures and the lived experiences of actual people. We just have to keep pressing, have to keep trying.
Eventually we will get past this moral panic, just like we got past section 28. No one can influence anyone to be something they are not, and the sooner we get that message out there loud and clear to everyone, the quieter the “concerned” voices will seem.
We just got to keep speaking out truth. Approaching platforms with our stories. Support trans organisations that are pushing the message. Things are already shifting despite all this nonsense – we got this.
How can we strengthen and protect trans teens’ body image in a society where they are constantly getting harmful messages of unrealistic beauty standards and fat phobia?
This is a really important topic that needs addressing. Beauty standards and fat phobia certainly affect just about everyone in society, and with trans kids it becomes even more nuanced as they often battle dysphoria on top of everything.
This is where intersectionality comes in – and that we make sure that all our efforts, whether that’s feminist approaches, body respect approaches or any approach from a group trying to strive towards better self-esteem and body image are trans inclusive.
We need to make sure we are addressing everyone at the table, and that they are given a seat there. We need to be able to have these conversations and talk about how body image and dysphoria create a very specific type of understanding of how you view your body.
We need to make sure that trans teens are getting access to the medical support and interventions some might need to feel better in their own bodies – and we need to make sure that they get realistic and helpful advice about what they can achieve with hormones and as individuals.
We all have different bodies – and striving towards the perfect glossy magazine image isn’t realistic – and especially not for trans people that have had to go through the wrong puberty and might have body parts or bone structure that has already developed.
It’s difficult though, as we live in a society with such structural transphobia and fatphobia. But we need to keep putting the message out there that you are more than your body and punishing yourself for not striving to stereotypical ideals of weight and body shape isn’t good.
So, it’s important that people are aware and strive for what makes them feel better in themselves, and what makes them feel safe. For some that might be different types of surgeries – but just make sure that you are doing it for yourself, and not because of other people.
There’s a huge community of body positive trans activists out there with some amazing messages about self-worth and self-love. Seek them out and remember to love yourself – where ever you are in your journey!
How do you learn to be happy in your own skin and defeat the inner bully without caring what others think?
We’ve both overcome internalised guilt and shame on our path to self-love and happiness, and it’s been quite the process. Hang in there. No matter where you are on your journey, there’s always something kind you can do for yourself. Life’s too short to not live as you wish. <3
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