Friday Night Sound Bytes with Loucresie Rupert MD

Raising A Transgender Kid in the Black Community

December 06, 2023 Insightful Consultant LLC
Friday Night Sound Bytes with Loucresie Rupert MD
Raising A Transgender Kid in the Black Community
Show Notes Transcript

Friday Night Soundbites: Unpacking the Journey of Raising a Transgender Child in the Black Community

Links mentioned in the episode :

Congressional Hearing: https://www.youtube.com/live/0ThuKGdYEvQ?feature=shared
Human Rights Campaign: https://www.hrc.org/?_ga=2.171210023.607551962.1704231990-1084448290.1704231990
Gender Spectrum: https://www.genderspectrum.org/
PFLAG: https://pflag.org/
The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

In this episode of Friday Night Soundbites, hosted by Dr. Loucresie Rupert, they sit down with Dr. Keisha Michaels, a practicing physician and mother of a transgender child. The discussion delves into Dr. Michael's experiences of raising a transgender child within the Black community. They also talk about her work with the Transgender Equality National Council of the Human Rights Campaign, an international non-profit working for the rights of gender and sexual minorities. They stress the importance of embracing and supporting gender-diverse children, highlighting the need for parents' open-mindedness, communal assistance, professional support, and creating visibility for such families in society. The episode concludes with a range of resources available for gender minority children and their parents.

00:00 Introduction and Welcome

00:35 Guest Introduction: Dr. Keisha Michaels

01:20 Dr. Keisha's Work with the Transgender Equality National Council

05:07 Challenges Faced by Transgender Children and Their Families

09:17 Dr. Keisha's Personal Journey with Her Transgender Daughter

18:01 Navigating the Black Community's Response to Transgender Issues

20:40 Understanding the Importance of Open Conversations

21:29 Dealing with Non-supportive Individuals

21:56 Family Reunion Experience: Acceptance and Support

23:37 The Role of Family Advocacy

23:59 The Importance of Respect and Acceptance

24:25 The Intersection of Race and Gender Identity

24:42 Navigating Family Dynamics

25:33 The Role of Medical Professionals in Affirming Identity

26:56 The Importance of Advocacy in Healthcare

28:12 The Impact of Societal Pressures on Parenting

28:31 The Need for Information and Education in the Black Community

29:31 The Historical Presence of Gender Minorities

30:48 The Importance of Affirming Identity in Religious Contexts

34:27 Resources for Parents and Families of Trans Kids

37:36 Resources for Trans Teens and Adolescents

39:49 The Power of Community and Finding Your People

40:44 Closing Remarks and Future Directions

**Correction: TFAM stand for The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries 

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Raising A Transgender Kid in the Black Community 

Loucresie Rupert MD:  Welcome to Friday Night Soundbites with me, Dr. Loucresie Rupert. Join me as we discuss topics that center Black and other POC. Neurodiversity, Disability, LGBTQ, Adoption, and Trauma. 

So welcome to Friday Night Soundbites with me, Dr. Loucresie Rupert. Join me as we discuss topics that center Black and other POC, Neurodiversity, Disability, LGBTQ, Adoption, and Trauma issues.

Today we are discussing raising a transgender child in the Black community. And we have Dr. Keisha here. Dr. Keisha Michaels is the mother of two children and lives in suburban Maryland, here in the Mid Atlantic. She practices medicine full time and is an avid reader. She co moderates a Facebook physician group that supports parents of children who identify as LGBTQI.

Keisha and her husband are the parents of a transgender child and have committed to helping other families love and accept their children and family members who are gender atypical. It is in this capacity that she and her husband serve on the Parents for Transgender Equality National Council of the Human Rights Campaign.

Welcome tonight. Thank you for joining me. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Thank you so much, Dr. Loucresie how are you? 

Loucresie Rupert MD: Good. So, why don't we start off by you just telling me a little bit about your work with the Transgender Equality National Council of the Human Rights Campaign? Mm 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: hmm. So, that organization, so Human Rights Campaign, is, um, honestly an international. You know, um, nonprofit that works to advance the causes of people who are gender and sexual minorities, right? So gay and lesbian and bisexual and pan people, um, also people who are gender minorities in many different ways. And so they spend a significant amount of time and effort in improving the lives of people around the world, um, who fall into those  categories, right?

Because as we know, Humanity comes on a spectrum. We are all made differently. And so, um, we were invited to be a part of the council. It's been a few years now. And the primary goal, I think, of all of us on the council is to first elevate, kind of, um, elevate the concerns that parents might have when they have a gender minority child.

But more importantly, probably, is to create visibility. For families that might look like us, so that they know that there are people who are brown and black, who have children who are gender diverse, and that there are families that embrace their children, and that there's a roadmap, there's a way forward, that they are not alone.

And so. Honestly, I think if you talk to anybody on the council, that's actually the goal, is to make sure that we are, um, trying to be available, even if it's just an image, right? Even if it's available to see, right?  So, I think that is honestly, hopefully, a powerful tool that people can use so they know they can also support their children.

Loucresie Rupert MD: Right. And in that work, um, so I know I watched, I think this was a couple of years ago. All the years are really kind of blending together. So I have no sense of time, but I watched you give maybe testimony or a talk. Was that on Capitol Hill?  So tell me a little bit about, so first of all, I was, it was amazing.

So tell us where we can find it and then tell me a little bit about it. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: I'd have to figure out where you can find it, girl. I'd have to look. YouTube? I don't know. It's probably on YouTube, but I honestly haven't looked at it in a very long time. Um, That was something that, um, we, a  group of us were invited, kind of HRC orchestrated, um, a session, organized a session where some of the congressional leaders, um, and it was, I think, led on the congressional side by then congressmen, um, Oh, my goodness.

 Kennedy from Massachusetts. I think he was the spearhead on the congressional side and partnered with HRC Uh for people to come together and speak to some of the house members and their staff About what it's like to be a parent, right? and what are the issues that We want to elevate and raise about our children because the day it's about Having our children have the same opportunity at life health happiness Wealth that everybody else has, right?

So this is the goal. And so that was a unique opportunity, honestly, opportunity to have a chance to speak to people who potentially can make changes in our laws and in our  customs, um, on a national level. Um, so we can improve the lives of our children and other children who are, who are just like our kids.

Loucresie Rupert MD: So before we shift to talking specifically about, um, the Black community and, um, let's talk about just, you said, you know, raising awareness of some of, some issues, just some general issues. What are some of those issues? 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: So I think it varies for each child because, you know, one of the things that I have learned over time just from, you know, being around folks who are trans themselves or who have trans family members, is that if you know one trans person, you know one trans person.

Loucresie Rupert MD: That's the truth. Just like in the neurodiverse community. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Is that, is that also, yes. And so, I think it highlights the humanity and the differences that we all come to the table with. Everybody's different. There are some commonalities though, right? So, some of the common themes that I think parents of children who are gender diverse ,Some of the things that we face and some of the things that children face include questions of how to navigate.

Right? Affirming your child, you know, when your child is first telling you that they are who they are, like, what do you do with that? Right? As a parent, if you don't know anything about gender diverse people, it can come as a surprise for parents. So trying to give them the language to understand, you know, what it means when their child is telling them this, how to approach, um, supporting them.

Those, that's probably the first thing. And then after parents kind of are. have been on the journey with their kids, usually for some period of time, because the stories are very similar. The parents will say, you know, my kid has told me this since they were X years old, or my kid never told me this, and as a teenager suddenly shared this with me, right, when the teenager found their voice and thought and had an understanding.

So each child is different. Every child is kind of different, but there are some common themes. It's like either the children tell their families when they're  very young or they don't say anything until while they're figuring it out and they tell them when they're a little bit older. So it's trying to help families through that process.

Um, I think it's something that, you know, because we see this first theme is definitely a goal trying to like, how do we help people get out of that first step. The other thing that comes next is how to deal with family and how to deal with community around this. And I think that's true for every person, right?

Regardless of their ethnicity or how they identify or where they live. We don't live in, especially in the United States, we don't live in a society that has ready acceptance, right? Our goal is, at least my personal goal, would be that we have a culture in society where no one ever needs to come out.

Loucresie Rupert MD: Right, it's just a conversation from day one. ` 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: This is just who you are. There's no need to come out, right? Come out from what, right? We don't, we don't want people to have to live in the what, right? That's the whole goal. Um, So how to deal with family and community I think would be the next common theme is that people struggle with that, you know, it's like they don't always have family members who are supportive.

They don't always have friends that are supportive. That's not true for everyone. Some people have great surroundings and they move just fine. So I think that's the second thing. The last thing would be that I'll highlight is how to How to get support, professional support, in this context. So what does that mean?

How do you get a therapist who can help support your child? Right, because if your child is gender diverse, they're growing up in an environment and in a world that is not going to embrace them automatically. So they have also been subjected to potentially anti trans. Verbiage online or social media, etc.

TV just in life. And so trying to navigate and support your child through that with professional support through medical intervention. If that is something that, you know, is everybody's different. Not everybody wants any. You know, medical therapy or anything else. And we can get into that a little bit later.

Um, but just trying to, I think those kinds of questions and what to do next and how to get help, those are probably the three things that, that I, that I see in everybody, regardless of what their ethnicity or race is. 

Loucresie Rupert MD: Okay. Um, well shifting. So I guess telling us a little bit about, uh, your daughter's story, as much as you feel comfortable, you know, always, um.

of course, advocate for privacy of the kid and what's allowed to be shared and all that good stuff. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Yeah, and she's actually sitting right next to me. Um... You might have heard her say hi. Um, but you know, our kiddo... Is older now. So let me just say that. So, you know, we have, uh, she's almost an adult. Um, so it's been, you know, a journey for us.

So she... 

Loucresie Rupert MD: And I've been an internet auntie watching her grow up. Even though we've never met. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Exactly. Um, so, you know, our daughter told us that she was a girl when she was not even verbal. That doesn't make sense, right? But she was communicating with nonverbal language that she was a girl when she was toddling around.

And when she started using words proficiently, you know, two and a half, three, she started telling us she was a girl. And we weren't ready to hear it. We didn't know what to do with it. At all. And I mean, I, by then I had already completed pediatric training. I had completed some specialty training and I had never received any training for this.

So I did not know what to do. Right. And so we, my husband and I are the kind of folks who feel very strongly that You know, you have to love who you are intrinsically, like, however you, however you look, whatever your height is, whatever you're, like, we really are about this, like, self-love and that works for most people.

But I will say that having a gender minority child means that telling them that this is how they are and they have to just. accept that is not a message that is supportive. Right. And so we didn't realize that we had no idea that we were not really providing a space for her to be herself. We just didn't know.

And so she, over time, over a few years, started just not talking. She started not telling us about who she was. She kind of went underground and she internalized it. Because she figured out she wouldn't get anywhere with this. Right. Like, why do I need to keep telling them anything? Because they're not listening.

And what we saw was she progressively became more and more, um, inwardly drawn. She was not sharing much. She was also becoming increasingly sad. She was developing depression. And by the time she was nine, I was like, we are, this is a problem. We're going to have to,  I'm not, we're not doing something for our child that she needs.

And so we got her a therapist and I, you know, although I suspected that, and this is the, how dense do you have to be, right? To not listen to your child, but this was me. I mean, honestly, I suspected that she was a gender minority. I was like, I think we need to try to address this. She hasn't really mentioned this in words in a few years, but I think we need to.

So I intentionally found a therapist who worked with children who were. gender diverse, and also not gender diverse, someone who had experience, right, and would help our kiddo. After about a year, this therapist came back to us separately from her and said, your, your kid is trans. And I was like, I think we knew that, you know what I mean?

But I think we were in denial. Honestly, I think we were in denial. But I appreciated the approach that the therapist took, because it was very carefully constructed, talked to us, and then said something that has stuck with me. Even in all these years since he said, so depending on how you feel your family can support your child will tell me how I need to provide therapy for your child.

If you think you'll be able to support your child in her identity, then I will provide therapy and counseling for her in one way. If you don't think this is something you can do, then I'll have to provide support in a different way. Yeah, and it took us about six weeks. We actually left that meeting not sure how we were going to handle this.

I was sure. My husband wasn't sure. I knew that we were, I was like, my kid needs to just thrive. And so we're going to do what it takes to have this kid thrive. And my husband also believed and understood and supported the fact that our kid was treated. That wasn't the issue. The issue was that he did not want her to quote transition before the fifth grade. 

Loucresie Rupert MD: What was special about the fifth grade? 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Because he said that he had been a fifth grade boy and he knew how young they were. He said, I do not want my child subjected to this. And so he said, I would rather that we wait until she starts high school when kids are starting to figure out that maybe they're not all the same and that some of them are different.

She might have more support. And so this was his argument. It really had nothing to do with supporting her as a trans person. It was the timing. And child, when I tell you, we struggled for weeks because I was like, this, we ain't waiting till high school. Um, so yeah, so that, that was kind of the, you know, we struggled, like I said, for about six weeks.

And finally, my husband, I think saw that. So I'm going to include my daughter, I won't, we'll say her name just right now, but I'll, I'm gonna include her and me. So I was like, this is going to happen. This is happening. And I felt strongly enough about it that I was like, it's gonna  happen, you know. So he basically cried uncle.

And then we just proceeded to do everything we could do to lay the foundation for her to go back to school after her transition. And I'm telling you, when we told this child that we were supporting her a hundred percent, um, that we wanted her to have the presentation that felt good to her, that felt right to her, all this, the child, I still don't know if I have seen that expression on her face, even since I had never seen it before.

Not sure. I've seen it since it was like the sun came out, it was amazing. And so she was 10 years old. We supported her. We had really good, really good help from, you know, medical professionals and therapists and that's been many years now. And now we have an older teenager who's a senior getting ready to go to college. And she is well adjusted, on her phone, watching anime. She's an artist. 

Loucresie Rupert MD: Yeah. Well, one thing I wanted to kind of go back to is what the therapist told you. I'm a, you know, I'm a child psychiatrist. I think most people that would be listening would know that. Um, but that's just so true. Like I have some, some patients who parents are supportive and some patients who aren't.

And it's a different conversation because sometimes the conversations of parents who aren't supportive is how do you protect yourself as much as possible until you can get out the house? And that's just the truth of it. 

 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: You say, as I'm talking to this child, What's protective? I saw something posted the other day. I don't remember.

I thought I, I don't think I took a picture of it, but it was basically if the safest thing for you is to be in the closet, then I will barricade the door myself. I will barricade the door for you. If that's the safest place for you to be right until we can do better. Right. Right. And so you're right.

There are so many, so many, so many children who end up homeless on the day that they tell their families that they're gender or sexual minorities. It's, it's really, um, it's not a small thing. It's a big thing, you know, how to protect children. And so I still to this day, I really appreciate that therapist.

He still does amazing work, um, uh, in the community. So anyway, that's kind of, that, that was, I mean, that's, It took me a long time to get there, but that was basically the journey of understanding who our kid was. In retrospect, she has always been. I used to think that I had two boys. I mistakenly thought I had two boys when we first had our children.

They're close together and, you know, life is rough with two toddlers, as you know. Um, and I, and I really, I mean, I was just in it, you know, but truthfully, I've never, ever had two boys. I never had two boys. I've always had a boy and a girl. Always. And it's so crystal clear to me that that is the case.

Anyway, I'm grateful for both of my children. 

Loucresie Rupert MD: So just to kind of shift to the Black community in general. So, I absolutely love being Black. I would truly not want to be anything else. Every day of the week. Every day. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Twice on Sundays, baby. Every day of the week. Twice on Sundays. That 

Loucresie Rupert MD: said, the Black community is not very welcoming, um, of LGBTQ issues in general.

And especially trans children because they feel, uh, well for lots of reasons, but one of the main excuses you hear, I'm just going to call it an excuse, is they feel that the parents are putting it on the kids. Um, so how do you... Uh, just recommend people even navigate that as a family. So even right now, I'm, I'm bisexual, cisgendered,  neurodiverse, have neurodiverse kids.

Um, grew up in, I'm, I'm, I still claim to be Pentecostal, but I currently go to a church that is kind of Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, mix, I think I told you about Dr. Flunder. Yeah, yeah, she's amazing. She's amazing. Yeah, so she has a TFAM, which is. Uh, I don't remember what it stands for. The family of affirming ministries.

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Yeah, I think it is. I think it's the family of affirming minstries

Loucresie Rupert MD:  Um, but anyway, so I found them. Love it. Super excited. But I still also love my Pentecostal roots. Uh, but where I was going with that is right now, um, Coming out to my mom was a whole, uh, whole thing. It was a whole thing. A whole thing. So I feel like even with my kids, and of course I'm open with them, and it is what it is, I'm always going to protect my kids.

But even as much as my mom loves me, and she still loves me, she's still, you know, right there. Um, if that same thing happened to, if I have to, Again, set the stage for one of my kids. It's going to be drama. It's going to be drama. Um, in the end, I mean, she's going to love her grandkids, but there's, there's, there's going to be that stage of drama first.

So just, you know,  and in, in many other places too, not just with my mom on the spotlight. She's, she's actually a wonderful mom and grandmother and helps me out so much. But, um, but we all have blind spots, right? We all have things we're working on, but where I was going with that, so what, what advice do you give to families, especially, you know, black family, I mean, all families, even, you know, quote unquote, what people think of as white American born and bred families, but especially black immigrant, you know, Indian, other POC families, I think it can be a little bit more difficult.

So what is the advice you give to kind of get family members either on board or, or the advice to you give to cut family members off if they need to be cut off?  

Dr. Keisha Michaels:  Yeah, you know, I think, I think really getting a good understanding of how willing people are to Have a conversation if they don't know how willing they are to learn and how much um, how willing they are to put the child first.

And what I mean by that is if they are willing to love your child unconditionally, yet they don't know everything, but they're open to learning. then that's a person you can work with, right? And that's true for family or non-family, right? You can try to work with them and teach them, give them exposure, give them books, websites, et cetera, et cetera.

And so I always think that it's helpful to keep as many people in your circle as you can. Cause you know, life is just hard and we need support. Um, right. But there are going to be those who are not going to be open. And, you know, we took the position, so Shannon and I are kind of, our personalities are pretty easygoing and laid back, but we will cut folks off without blinking.

Like, so we were completely ready to cut, and I didn't know if we were going to need to cut. I wasn't sure, you know, um, and so now I'll tell you the story  about how we went to our family reunion in Texas. My family is Southern based, like my family is all from Texas and Oklahoma. And, uh, we went down for a family reunion the summer after she transitioned.

And I got there, you know, we, I went with the kids and my mom. So just the four of us went down. And I was like, wow, people are like, they're just taking it in stride. They're doing so well, using her name. I was impressed, honestly, with my, you know, extended family. I thought this is actually going a whole lot better than I anticipated. Got through the whole weekend, no issues, no one said a word. It was pretty remarkable.

Loucresie Rupert MD: That’s really good. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Really good, right? So what I learned later, okay, so my mother's the oldest out of a crop of kids, okay? Crop. A whole bunch. And what I learned later is that this woman had called Each and every person  and told them about her granddaughter and that they would use her name and her pronouns and there wouldn't be any issues because she knew everything about them and would not even hesitate to use it if she had to.

So I always, when I tell that story, I tell people she's a gangsta grandma. And she set the stage. She set the stage before we even got there. I did not even know she had done this. But she said it, and let me tell you, we ain't have a single problem, not a soul said a words, nothing. So, how do you have to deal with family?

Sometimes you need a sponsor, sometimes you need help, you don't even know what kind of help you need. But I think having one or two folks who can like really be, an asset to you and your child. Um, even if it's by strong arming, because I'll be honest, I don't really care how they feel on the inside. 

Loucresie Rupert MD: Right. I care how they make my child feel. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: That's where the money is because I don't want her to feel isolated, to feel like she's not welcome or anything else. It's about at the end of the day, how she is being accepted on the face of it. And so I don't care if you like me or if you like her. That's actually not the concern that I have.

I just want to make sure it's an amicable situation. We can, it's respectful. That's really it. It's kind of the same way I feel about race relations. You know, I don't, it doesn't matter if people really like me as a Black person or not. I just want the playing field to be level. And for us to tear down some of the inequities that we might face.

That's a whole other conversation. Um. So yeah, how do we do a family? I think it's complicated. I think it'll depend on the family that you're talking about. It'll depend on whether you have people in your corner who can advocate for you. It will also depend on how important their impression of you is.

And I think knowing that about yourself is important. Some people really, really find it valuable that people like them, you know, or that they are in high esteem for other people. If that's something that's important to you, that'll be something you'll have to work through and figure out. Which one am I going to?

Um, which one is more important? Right? Right. Is, is my child more important or is it that people look upon me, quote positively or keep me in high esteem? That's an internal discussion that people are gonna have to have if they have a gender minority child. They're gonna have to figure that out. Mm-Hmm.

Loucresie Rupert MD: one thing that I. I actually really like that my hospital does for our kids that are admitted, if the kid wants this, of course, because always it's about what the kid wants, but when we have a family that is not gender affirming, um, and wants to use, you know, the dead name and their own pronouns and all that kind of stuff, we don't do that if the kid doesn't want to, I mean, you know, of course, if the kid is not out to their family, obviously we use whatever keeps them safe, but if they're out and the kid is, um, Just not being, those pronouns or names are just not being respected.

We use, you know, their, their name.  not their dead name. And so sometimes families get really mad at that, but I think it's really important for kids to know somebody out there has their back. Somebody has their back. So somebody, yeah, I was very, um, Not that I wouldn't have brought it up, but I didn't even have to bring it up.

Like that was just something that they did already. So I was very pleased by that because I'm, that's, that's how I am in my private practice and my outpatient practice too. Um, I'm not, I'm not your physician. I'm not the parent's physician. I'm the child's physician. And so, um, And, and sometimes you have to, and I, as you know, as being a pediatrician, that sometimes you have to really make that clear to parents that I'm not your doctor.

Yes, I have to work with you because we're working for the good of this child, but we're 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: working together 

Loucresie Rupert MD: on the behalf of the child, but I am their doctor. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: So that's absolutely, and we have, we've had a similar situations where we have had to affirm clinically, like affirm the child's name. the child's pronouns.

Um, I've had to expand, you know, have long discussions with the team about how we are going to support the child, even when the parents don't support the child in the use of the name. And I have actually seen some parents 

Loucresie Rupert MD: Do that. Yeah, I have to, especially when you frame it as, I mean, sometimes it's literally a matter of life and death.

Um, literally. Yes. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Yes. Well, that's usually why I see them from what I do. The type of pediatrician I am, I'm usually seeing them after an attempt. 

Loucresie Rupert MD: Or either suicidal thoughts or whatever. So, so I'm like, do you want to love your alive kid the way they are? You know, like what, what are we doing here? Um, so that, that a lot of times, most of the times, honestly, I think that brings it home.

And even if it's still a struggle, it's still a struggle. They at least try a little bit more, you  know, um, most of the time, because most people, most people do love their kids, um, and just have their own internal issues. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: I would say the majority of people, majority of people love their children. You know, they are, I think, succumbing to societal pressures.

They're being told that this is a newfangled thing, it's a fad. They hear all this stuff on social media. And I'll tell you, the right wing... Crusade. They are experts at indoctrination and they do it in multiple languages. Let me tell you, I, we were just, I was, we just had a meeting today with some folks and, you know, a couple of people who, whose primary language, the first language is Spanish, you know, we're talking about this massive crusade in, you know, how these organizations go to the other countries, the home countries that immigrants might listen to get on their radio networks because they know people are going to go back and listen to those and they will have so much anti trans You know, stuff on the misinformation and so we're not doing a great [00:29:00] job and and honestly in our community in the black community.

We have to figure this out. I haven't figured out how to do this yet. But I feel like in our community, we are going to need to have some information about people who are gender minority because I think truly, we just have never. ever talked about it. Most people have a void of information. And so whatever is being, whatever they're being told, it's like if you're filling a zero space, it's just, they're, you know, they're starting with a clean slate.

And so what gets there first is what sticks. And so we have to do better about telling everybody, but particularly people I think in our community, that there have been gender minority people since the beginning of time, Everywhere, where there are humans, there are gender minority people

Loucresie Rupert MD: Yeah, because a lot of people get on that kick that, um, this didn't come until colonization and all of that, and now there were gender minority people in Africa well before white people got there. It's actually just the inverse.  I know! I've studied it. There were a lot more free African indigenous and Native American indigenous cultures. Yes. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Oh, not just there. If you look at the PBS map, which I love to use, the PBS map of gender minorities around the world.

If you look at it, cultures in just about every single place. Had room, had space, had acknowledgment, even celebration of people who are gender minorities. When colonization happened, it actually upended it in many places. That's, it's just the inverse, actually. Yeah. Yeah, girl, don't think we started on this.

But I feel like if people, but I feel like if people had actual, like, more true information about how people have been different since the beginning of time, and that we have actually used religion

To solidify the bias, trying to solidify the bias against sexual and gender minorities, and that this is actually not, I'm not sure we know what God thinks about this. And why do I feel that way? All of us are God's children

Loucresie Rupert MD: Well, also the Bible doesn't say,

Dr. Keisha Michaels: there's a vacancy of information about what God thinks about us.

And so if I'm going to choose, if I'm going to choose to do something, I'm always going to err on the side of making God's love bigger than making God's love smaller

Loucresie Rupert MD: Yeah, because there's only, um, oh, yeah, girl, we're about to start having church. Let's, let's, cause I will. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: I know, girl, I, look, I know. I'm a PK

Loucresie Rupert MD:  I totally get it. My godfather. So my godfather is, is my pastor. My old, you know, I can see still my pastor. Um, but my godfather, I actually, uh, so I've known him since I was three. So I think around like four or five, I told him. He was going to be my godfather. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Oh, that's so sweet. 

Loucresie Rupert MD: And it like went with it and it has accepted it.

So I'm kind of like a PK, God PK, I guess? But um, but he and actually his children, his biological children, And, and, and me, we're all very strong willed in different ways. So it, I think it was actually kind of funny going up in a Pentecostal church. I'm not one of those are in a church in anywhere in general.

I'm just not one of those people that don't have questions, you know, and a lot of black people, especially in that generation and above, like, you're not supposed to have questions as a kid. You do what I say. I had lots of questions and he, um, answered them, you know, the way he felt. But I always talk about how my mom and my dad and my godfather, which were, you know, the people that were most important in raising me.

Um, we're kind of revolutionary in the way that they allowed me to have a voice, although they probably also couldn't have beat it out of me. Maybe, I don't know. But, but they allowed me to have a voice. Um, even when my voice was annoying to them, they still allowed me to have a voice. So, uh, so I think that, you know, I continue to question things all the time.

That's who I am. I, you know, I just don't accept these because it's been said for however many years. Um, and I think more of the community is, is getting to that point. Like, um, I was just talking to somebody yesterday, uh, that a lot of our parenting skills, and this is not a knock-on Black parenting. I want people to understand that a lot of our parenting skills is from a place of fear and trauma.

We had to have. Very strict control over our kids to keep them alive. And while it's still dangerous to be a black kid and a black person, it's not, I look at a white person randomly on a Tuesday and I get lynched up dangerously in general. Although we know that still happens. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: But that was absolutely the case for, 

Loucresie Rupert MD: and then not that many years ago.

So we, we are kind of getting the freedom to parent from a different place and trying to figure out how to parent from a different place. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: I love that framing. So 

Loucresie Rupert MD:  yeah, I think, I think, I think we'll eventually get there, but we gotta, we gotta work through a lot of trauma and a lot of that parenting that was passed down is, is, it was needed at the time to keep their children alive, but we have the freedom to parent from more than fear now, so.

Dr. Keisha Michaels: 100 percent agree. 100 percent agree on that. Okay. What else you got? 

Loucresie Rupert MD:  You have any parting words, like anywhere that they can find, uh, support or work or anything you want to promote anything at all. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: So I would say, um, there is a, so PFLAG is the national organization for parents. who have children who are gay, lesbian, trans, pan, bisexual, et cetera.

It is, um, they are working hard to try to expand their tent. They have developed a meeting for black parents of trans kids. Actually for LGBTQ kids, I don't think it's just trans kids. Um, I've attended a few of them. So they have done that. We're in the process of organizing something as well, which, um, We're getting that off the ground, so maybe I can, you can share it at another time once it's all kind of ready, um, for resources.

So, I, I, there are places parents can go. So, GenderSpectrum has GenderSpectrum. org. Let me just make sure that that's the right tag. Yes, so genderspectrum. org has lots of information if you're looking for information about your gender minority child. Transfamilies also has a lot of information, so people can google transfamilies and find Um support and information human rights campaign also has a fair bit of information on their website where people can Look for resources for you know Like questions and like q a's about how do you get how do you find health care?

How do you you know, how do you do all these things? They're also um Working on a [00:36:00] document for black families as well. So resources for black families, so I think there are there are myriad places that people can look and find support. Um, I think having local support is great, but I will tell you that most of the Black families that I know who have trans kids don't know anybody else in their immediate circle who's Black, who has a gender minority kid.

And we are from all over the country. Like, when we ask each other, do you know anybody else? Like, nope. We don't know anybody else. Is that because there aren't Black children out there who are that's not it AT all. Okay, we are just absolutely not. We have just not gotten to the place, I think, as a community where these children can be identified and supported in their family structures just yet.

So, the families aren't seeking medical or even therapeutic kinds of like support. Um, so the networks just aren't. They just aren't that diverse. So when you see the populations and parents, it really does feel like a white thing. I'm gonna tell you, right? So if you, if you're looking at these resources, you're like, wow, it just seems like white families are the only ones who have kids who are gender minorities.

And so people can feel like, No, you know what? I'm not doing that. I'm not going to that meeting. I'm not, you know, because it can feel isolating. And I think we really do understand that that is true. And there are a lot of us who are trying to make that different, to try to make it so that people can reach out and find faces that feel familiar, that, you know, that have cultural, um, um, uh, shared points, et cetera, et cetera.

Loucresie Rupert MD: So for any trans teens, uh, or I guess. Younger kids that are listening, but trans are questioning, um, adolescents. What resources do you recommend for them? 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: You know, I feel like I'm probably not the, uh, I'm not sure. I think beyond the resources that I just gave you. I'm not sure what resources are out there for them.

Um, and part of it, I'm going to tell you, is that we are very privileged in that our kiddo hasn't needed to reach out on her own for resources, that I'm aware. So... I don't know what, what kind of support kids can find on. Oh, I do. Okay. So I just thought of one. The Trevor Project. 

Loucresie Rupert MD: Oh, we raised money for them one time.

Dr. Keisha Michaels: so I love the Trevor Project. I love what they do. They offer support to LGBTQ youth. Um, they have strategies where you can go on their sites and you can erase your presence so people can't go back on your phone and figure it out so they tell you how to do that. You can text with them if you're feeling, um, um, like you could use support or you have questions or if you're even feeling like You know, you want to harm yourself or it's not worth, you know, I want to tell.

So what I do want to tell them from me directly is that there is a tomorrow and that it can be better and that there are folks who will support you. May not be today, right. It may not be today, but there are people who will love to support you exactly the way you are and that you don't have to change for people that this is how you are made.

And we love you just like you are. Okay. And that there is a lot of trans joy. I don't want to end this without talking about this, that there are children and adults who are trans who are just living their best lives. Best lives, right? Listen, find the podcast, right? Listen to Translash, listen to some of the other, you know, podcasts and other types of media that I support, TikToks, that where people are truly living their life and are finding joy in their own spaces, that it is not all doom and gloom, that there, there is a purpose.

There is a sun that you may not feel today. 

Loucresie Rupert MD: One thing I really, you know, social media can be a bad place, but one thing that I emphasize to my, my kids, my patients, I call my patients, my kids, but, um, is that, um, finding your people. And sometimes that doesn't happen until you get out the house, but social media is good for finding your people.

Um, and then. Sometimes that can lead to finding your people, you know, of course, all the safety stuff, all of that, but lead to finding your people in person. And that's, I think that's. Honestly, the biggest advantage that I've seen from social media is that minorities of all kinds can find their people and it's just, it's just nothing like community and support.

We're just, we're not made to do it alone. So. 

Dr. Keisha Michaels: Nothing. Oh, that is, you have, you have rounded out this whole conversation with the word right there. That is it. Finding your tribe, finding your people, finding your community. 

Loucresie Rupert MD: Well, thank you so much for joining. This has been a great conversation. Thank you for having me.

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