When news broke of a leaked memo from the Trump Administration planning to legally erase transgender people in the US, Vanessa Ford was shocked and appalled.
Vanessa’s daughter Ellie came out as transgender on her fourth birthday.
‘She was very persistent in her identity,’ Vanessa told Gay Star News. ‘She came out and said “Mom, I’m not a boy, I’m a girl in my brain”.’
The family took a couple of months to determine what they should do, but in those months, Ellie was very insistent.
She drew herself as a girl, asked her brother Ronnie to call her ‘sister’ and chose her name Ellie.
Then in July of 2015, Vanessa and her husband JR became fully on board with their daughter’s decision. They started calling her Ellie and using female pronouns.Ellie is now seven and a half years old – living her life out and proud.
When Vanessa first saw the leaked memo, she was horrified. The memo proposes to restrict the legal definition of sex to genitalia at birth.
Vanessa told Gay Star News: ‘This leaked memo is just so appalling. They’re not only trying to erase trans people off the map, it’s going to exponentially impact the most marginalized trans people as well.
‘Having a trans daughter of color, we’re really trying to make sure our daughter has the most supportive and affirming parents as possible. But also recognizing she’s standing on the shoulders of so many others, who aren’t afforded those same things.
‘It’s not just about our daughter, it’s about the entire community,’ Vanessa said.
Vanessa and JR aren’t planning to divulge the details of the leaked memo to their young daughter.
‘We try not to share the major news,’ Vanessa said. ‘But we will continue to fight it on her behalf.’
‘She’s too young to understand those things without becoming too fearful about it.
‘Ellie knows very little, other than Trump is somebody who puts things in place that aren’t kind to brown people and are not kind to transgender people,’ Vanessa said.
Mobilizing a community
Vanessa is the Director of Education for a not-for-profit, as well as on the board for the National Center for Transgender Equality.
She’s currently in contact with ‘many, many, many, many’ other parents of trans kids.
She said the general mood is ‘fear, anger and I wouldn’t say surprise because these hits just keep coming.’
‘Our children just seem to be a target of this administration, without fail,’ Vanessa said. ‘It is very scary.’
‘Parents are worried and scared, but we are also activated. We are loud and we are a powerful group alongside everyone else,’ she said.
Meet my daughter, Ellie. She is vibrant, artistic and loves a pun. We stand with her and her trans family, especially those most marginalized already by our racist & transphobic systems. #WeWontBeErased #TransIsBeautiful pic.twitter.com/Tzo0Y02oxL
— Vanessa Ford (@VanessaFordDC) October 21, 2018
In taking action against this, a lot of parents are planning to rally, write letters and use social media to connect to others.
They’re also writing to Congress and donating money to pro-trans campaigns.
‘They’re also just making sure they’re hugging and loving their children,’ Vanessa said.
She said to expect to see some op-eds and letters from groups of parents to say that this is not OK.