Monday, February 18, 2008

Kilroy Was Here

> Feministe, USA
> Feb 17 2008
> A saner era? Myths about trans kids in schools, courtesy of FOX News
> Posted by: Holly
> For starters, if you have questions about young trans kids (and many people do) an excellent
> resource is the TransYouth Families Advocates FAQ. This group was started by four mothers > with transgender children...

I want and need to clarify this posted statement that appeared in TransgenderNews and the Feministe Blog.

TransYouth Family Advocates was envisioned and founded in late August of 2006 by a transwoman named Jenn Burleton (me) who also happened to have been a foster parent of two transgender teens.

The organization was originally named TransKidsPAC and then changed to TransKids Family Coalition before finally adopting the current name after some of the adolescents we were working to assist made it clear to us that they didn't want to be identified as "kids". :)

Very shortly after the founding of the organization I was interviewed
about the organization on GenderTalk by Nancy Nangeroni and Gordene
McKenzie. I discussed the creation of the organization and was joined
on the air by co-founder Kim P. and her son. That original interview
broadcast on September 9, 2006 can be heard at the following link:

The introduction to our segment of the show begins at 00:03:15 and ends 00:05:05 and the actual interview begins at 01:38:00 and runs through 01:59:00.

I was at the helm of the organization as Executive Director for the first 8 months of it's existence. I authored or edited the vast majority of the organization's original literature (with the
assistance of the three parents who co-founded TYFA).

I wrote and refined the organization's Mission and Vision Statements, (again with input from the others) and designed and created the intial educational and advocacy outreach programs and presentation materials for use in schools and the community. I designed the organization's logo as well as all of the graphic design for the products TYFA sells through its CafePress merchant site. As with everyone else in the organization at that time, all of this was done on a volunteer basis.

I led (along with the three co-founding mothers of trans children) the organization as it moved from being a program affiliated with the PFLAG-Transgender Network (TNET) to being an independent, non-profit organization in late 2006, early 2007. Upon the incorporation being final, in early April of 2007 I was elected the first President of the Board of Directors.

In April of 2007, I, along with Kim P.'s son represented TYFA in footage that was shot for the ABC 20/20 Barbara Walters show about transgender children and youth. While the vast majority of that footage was not used in the final broadcast, there is a very brief glimpse of Kim's son and I at the 00:39 second point in the clip that can be seen at the above link. He is wearing a shirt that reads "What Kind Of Man Are You?" and I am to his left.

In late April of 2007, I chose to leave TYFA for personal reasons and went on to found TransActive Education & Advocacy in Portland, Oregon.

I wanted to develop an organization that not only served the needs of gender non-conforming youth and their families, but that employed more directly the skills, opinions and energies of those youth in the advocacy work. I also wanted an organization that more effectively
made use of the experiences of those who had been trans children and youth themselves. I applied what I had learned from the development of TYFA to TransActive.

From the beginning, TransActive has been committed to collaborating with any and ALL organizations that are dedicated to improving, advocating and unequivocally supporting trans and gender non-conforming children and youth.

I remain extremely supportive of the work that TYFA does and will be forever proud of the role I played in bringing my vision for helping these children and their families to national visibility through TYFA.

I loved working with the other three women, the parents of transgender children. I loved being their friend, co-worker, sister-in-arms...sister. We were family.

The envisioning and building of TYFA was simultaneously among the most difficult times of my life and, in the end, one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life. And it led me to where I am now with TransActive, which has been and promises to be even more of an
amazing and rewarding experience.

You will find no specific reference to me or my contributions to the birth, growth and development of TYFA on their website or in any of their literature. Personally, I have no problem with that, and have not ever spoken publicly about that over these past several months.

My motivation in mentioning it now and clarifying the original posted statement is not to seek glorification for my role in the founding of TYFA. I have found though both my trans advocacy work and my previous career in the music and entertainment industry enough "glory" and "attention" to last a lifetime. Most of it positive...some of it cruel and painfully negative.

My motivation in clarifying this is completely in line with one of the goals that TransYouth Family Advocates was founded on.

The idea of not only supporting these amazing children and youth, but to show their parents, families & communities that being transgender need not sentence their child to a life on the fringes of our culture. To work to break-down trans stereotypes. To demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that trans people, like ALL people, can give back, particularly to our children so that they may have it easier than some of us did.

I always believed that my role as visionary and co-founder of TYFA would serve as another example of what a trans person can accomplish once they are able to turn their energies outward, rather than inward.

We need more positive trans role models. We need to stem the tendency of cissexist culture, either through intention, circumstance or by accident to write trans people and our accomplishments out of our own history. Indeed, as was made tragically apparent this past week in Oxnard, California, some people want to simply remove gender non-conforming identity altogether.

Trans adults...there are many of us that can work with others to do things for our children, bringing our unique perspectives to this vitally important task.

Trans children & youth...many of your parents will fight for your right to be yourself. They are your best and most important allies. But please also know that there are those who were once walking in your shoes, living and surviving your fears, mysteries and questions who not only WILL step up on your behalf, but who already HAVE stepped up in support of you.

It's not about taking credit. It's about taking ownership of our trans identities, and being true to those who have and may yet contribute to trans history.

In the end, it's about making sure the world knows that we were here, we contributed and that trans lives matter.

Peace & Unity,

Jenn Burleton
Executive Director
TransActive Education & Advocacy

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