Support Trans Kids
Gender Affirming Care & Support for Trans Kids
As a pediatrician, I have an oath to take the best care of children that I can. To heal their injuries, to reduce their pain, to cure their illness and to support their mental and physical development. This means putting their social, emotional, and medical needs first. If I knew with certainty, that providing a certain type of care to children could literally save their lives, then I would be obligated professionally and morally to provide that care, and to speak out in opposition of any act that could prevent that care from happening.
All across the country, legislation is being introduced to prevent what is referred to as gender affirming care. In its most basic, and arguably most important form, gender affirming care means providing medical care and interacting with patients in a way that respects who they are as their most authentic selves.
Brave Care’s Commitment to Inclusive and Equitable Care
At Brave Care, our mission to help every child reach their full potential means providing respectful, inclusive and equitable care for all kids. On the signage inside our clinics, on our medical staff’s name tags and in the software we built to run our clinics we make space to respect all genders and pronouns. We believe honoring our oath means providing education to all of our providers on how to provide gender affirming care.
We do this because small acts like these can reduce the risk of suicide in trans kids by upwards of 50% or more. We do this because it reduces the risk of substance abuse, anxiety, and other kinds of mental health disorders in trans kids. We do this because it saves the lives of trans kids. And beyond the obvious protection of life and prevention of harm, every child deserves the chance to live joyfully as themselves and confident in who they really are.
We’re proud to continue to support trans kids and would ask that everyone, including lawmakers, consider current legislative actions, and whether they really are in the best interest of all human beings.
Rewriting Our Company History
We quite literally rewrote our company history to be gender affirming. Our company was created after I cared for one of the more significant chin lacerations I’d seen in my career, requiring two layers of closure. The father of the boy who who crashed his bike became my cofounder and has been the CEO helping to shape our goal of bringing our level of care to kids across the country.
In every early investor meeting, Darius would talk about how scary that first medical emergency was for him and his son. He jokes that being a parent is the most important job he’s ever had, that he still has no training or qualifications to hold the position. It’s the most rewarding part of my work being their for families in these scary and painful times.
For the first 18 months of our company, it was this boy crashing his bike that was at the center of how our company initially came to be… but then our story changed as that boy became a girl. Her story was shared by Darius last year...
Ever since Spencer was little he was always shy, which makes getting to know him harder. Especially in a house with sisters who are constantly singing, talking and taking center stage. When we got moments to ask him about him, or what he wants, he was quiet... When he was little he’d always ask something like “Dad, do you want to hear my song?” I’d say yes of course, and then he’d say “ok, later.” Later never came. You could see he wanted to share, but was too shy.
He wore dresses at home because he’s got sisters who have girl friends around a lot, so in dress up games he’d be dressed up too. But 2yrs ago, he wanted to wear a dress to a wedding we were going to. I told him that it wasn’t an appropriate place to play dress up. When we got there, there was an older man in a kilt. Spencer made sure I saw it and knew that I was wrong.
The second time he wanted to wear a dress in public, was a year ago, when we were going to a pumpkin patch outside of Portland... in a more rural town setting, I was nervous that somebody might say something unkind. It was fine.
We’ve started to see him come out of his shell. I credit Katy Perry with a big change here. It was her music that he wanted to play and would perform for us to. He’d dress up and dance. Face all business. This was where he felt comfortable and confident.
Seeing that this was more than just a little brother playing dress up, we reached out to other parents with transgender kids to try and learn more. We watched short films or interviews with parents and transgender kids. What seemed consistent was a kid defiantly stating “That is not me, this is me!” We hadn’t heard that from Spencer, but I think that was because nothing was ever put over a barrier he had to defiantly reach for. Boys can have painted nails. Boys can have long hair. Boys can wear dresses. Also, knowing how shy he is. It’s not in his nature to be defiant. With a shy child, it’s easier to crush their spirit and their voice.
But we kept giving him space and learned more about having a child who is gender expansive... ie, challenges conventional gender norms, but still identifies as their birth gender.
He wore dresses most of this school year, and started growing his hair long. And...
3 months ago. Spencer let us know he didn’t like his name, that he wanted to be called Maia and that he was a girl. It started in a soft voice. A request. A hope.
I’ll love my kids whoever they are and I only want them to be their happiest and best selves, so I’ll be supportive of what they choose... but he’s also still young so I think I’ve only been half supportive of the name / gender change.
But consistently for 3 months, she’ll correct you if you misgender her, or if you say her old name. She has a hard time remembering to put the milk away after she eats cereal, or remembering her backpack EVERY day we go to school... but she remembers her name and her gender. This matters to her more than anything else has.
Her baby sister is probably the most consistent with just accepting she has a new name and is a girl... which makes sense, cause without all our social stigmas & rules, why would you care what name or gender somebody wants to be identified as?
I’m getting better at remembering and making the mental change to say the right name / gender... and I know I’m making progress because I more often say Maia now when that name flies out of my mouth when I start a scolding.
This will be a learning journey for all of us, and as her parents we’ll be doing what we can to continue to help her navigate building her confidence, her voice and her sense of self.
I’ve told her this every day of her life and I will continue too. “I love being your dad. I love you. And you’re just like me.”