“Love has no boundaries,” says MacKillop foster carer Anne* who shares how caring for a young transgender person has expanded her heart and mind in incredible ways.
Trans youth face a world in which they are misunderstood, and with an increasing rhetoric of misunderstanding towards transgender people, Anne, from the outset made it her purpose to ensure that the young person in her care, Delilah*, was safe to explore her own gender and identity.
“Rather than picking gender norm clothes for Delilah, we’d let her pick the clothes she’s most comfortable in,” explains Anne.
“If she asked for nail polish or lip gloss, we wouldn’t make a big fuss or question. We were mindful of using inclusive language everyday – words like ‘partner’ when referring to future relationships to ensure that we’re not pigeoning girls to have husbands or boys to have wives.
“When it came to family conversations around physical appearance, we would talk about how each and every one of us is unique, different and special, and that there really isn’t a ‘normal’.”
For Anne and her partner, Peter*, it was an initial shift to providing gender-affirming care but one which they took head-on. Attending various courses and clinics, they sought further education in learning about diversity of gender identities and expression so that they could provide trans affirmative care to Delilah.
“The Gender Clinic has a ton of resources on its website, one of which was an online course through the queer space over the span of 8 weeks. It was a bit of a wait but worth it, and talking with the team at the clinic was extremely helpful.”
Anne and Peter have been Delilah’s carer for over 2 years, and have discovered along their journey that there is no one way to transition or to be trans.
I have learned through my own experience and educating myself that gender works on a sliding scale. There is no black and white, it’s all grey in the middle and two peoples gender journeys are never the same. It’s an individual journey for each person.
“A common misconception is people assume it’s a phase, that they will grow out of it. But acting as if it’s just a phase, could risk that young person’s life - quite literally."
In Australia, a staggering 48.1% of transgender and gender diverse people aged 14 to 25 reported that they had attempted suicide in their lifetime.¹
“The rates of suicide and self-harm because trans youth and people are not accepted by their own family and community is astounding.
“The takeaway here is never assume it’s a phase. Take them seriously and let them make the changes they feel are necessary to be happy and comfortable in their body, home and community.”
LGBTIQA+ youth, especially those most vulnerable, deserve to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect. Awareness days like Wear It Purple Day helps shift our focus from the negative trans media coverage and highlight and celebrate rainbow young people living full lives and making a difference in the world.
This year’s theme for Wear It Purple Day, ‘Still me, Still Human’ reminds us about the humanity when discussing all diverse identities and that we’re all human.
My love for her doesn’t care what name she goes by, or how long her hair is. It’s there because she is a beautiful person and that’s all that matters.
“Delilah is a bright and caring soul who likes to think about others and how they are feeling. She knows what it’s like when no one cares and it’s one of her greatest strengths. She wants to have enough money to have a happy life and to take care of the people she loves.
“She has told me that she wants to be like me when she grows up, an osteopath and a foster carer. I must be doing something right!”
*Name changed to protect privacy