More visibility and acceptance means a brighter future for a local father.
For John French of Squamish, father of a transgender child, Transgender Awareness Week symbolizes hope for the future.
“As a parent of a trans child, I worry about my child every day,” said French, who speaks in public courtesy of her daughter.
“It’s things like this that bring acceptance, and each time the acceptance increases, I worry a little less for my child who is vulnerable.”
In honor of this transgender awareness week, Pride Squamish members and supporters were on hand at Town Hall for a flag-raising ceremony on Monday morning.
As the storm prevented the flag from being hoisted at 11 a.m. as scheduled, staff then hoisted it to the top of City Hall and above the Brennan Park Recreation Center.
This is the first time the district has hoisted the transgender flag, and Squamish is one of the few places in the province to do so so far.
“When people see the transgender flag flying in Squamish this week, we hope they will be inspired to find resources to learn more about trans and gender diverse people, and the challenges and discrimination they continue to face. to face. As more residents of Squamish speak out as allies, making the changes necessary to ensure that our homes, schools, businesses and public spaces are welcoming, inclusive and safe for all trans and gender diverse people is badly needed ” , we read in an article by Pride Squamish.
The Howe Sound Women’s Center will mark the week on November 16 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the newly renovated center at 38021 3rd Ave. The open event is an opportunity for attendees to connect and learn more about advocating for transgender rights.
On November 20, a candlelight vigil will be held at 6 p.m. at the center for Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), the annual day to honor the memory of transgender people who have been killed by anti-transgender violence.
French said that before learning that his daughter Claire was transgender a few years ago, he didn’t think about the injustices or vulnerabilities transgender people face, but now he sees them everywhere and every day.
“I just see inequalities and a lack of justice everywhere, through the media and just making my way around the world,” he said. “Before, it wasn’t something I thought about too much.”
French said that during his travels he is much more attentive to people who speak derogatoryly about transgender people or issues, for example, he said. “It really catches my attention and it wasn’t before. Now I’m quite surprised how often I hear and observe negative or aggressive comments and behavior towards transgender people.”
French said that while he had a lot of fears as a father, he was also very proud and happy for Claire, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree.
“She found herself in a way she didn’t know when she was younger,” he said. “She has also found people who relate to her for who she is and fully accept her for who she is.”
When he and Claire’s mother, Heidi, first learned that Claire was transgender, they began to educate themselves, French said, acknowledging that he still sometimes slips with his daughter’s name or pronouns.
Fortunately, Claire has been very patient, he said.
Advice to other parents
French said he and Heidi learned very quickly that transgender children who did not have supportive families often did not do very well.
“Transgender people who do not have the support of their families are at real risk of all kinds of dangers in their lives with drug addiction and violence being the two most important,” French said.
They are also much more likely to attempt suicide and die from it.
“We have always been happy that our child was who he is and we supported him from the start. Knowing this statics of hardship for transgender people who do not have the support of their families, it was clear to us from the start that we had to be there for our child and accept whatever was going on and do what we had to do as parents to support our child. And that is exactly what we did. ” -he declares.
French said his advice to parents who learn their child is transgender or anywhere on the Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex (2SLGBTQI) spectrum is first to listen to what that their child has to say. .
“And listen like their life depends on it,” he said.
“If you can’t trust your own parents, who can you trust? ”
After listening, started to be a great parent, he said.
“Put aside your own fears, prejudices and concerns and just be the best parent you can be for this child because that’s what he needs in his life at this point,” he said.
To the entire Squamish community, French says, “Let people be who they are.”
This applies not only to transgender people, but to everyone, he said.
“For people with mental health issues, addictions, visible minorities, physical disabilities, I see a world that would be so much easier to navigate if we, as people, were much more tolerant than what we are in this society. ”
For more information, Pride Squamish has many resources that residents can access, as does Egale, a national advocacy and education resource.
Video of the brief ceremony at the municipal hall on Monday morning.