Jamie Bruesehoff, a writer and mom to 13-year-old transgender activist, Rebekah Bruesehoff, would do anything to support her daughter. Ever since Rebekah began to transition at the age of 8, Jamie has been her biggest advocate. We caught up with Jamie to discuss how she has learned to best support her daughter and how parents in similar situations can, too.
Jamie's Advice For Parents Who Need Support
Many parents with a child who identifies as trans may feel isolated, but Jamie can attest that there are plenty of others who share their experience. "The first thing parents of trans children need to know is that they're not alone," Jamie told POPSUGAR. "They aren't the only parents navigating this situation with their child and they need to know their child is going to be OK. They should trust that their kid is going to have a beautiful future. It's not the scary, devastating news that it may feel like when you don't have any frame of reference."
If anyone in the family is feeling lost, joining a support group — either online or in person — is a helpful first step. PFLAG, for example, is an excellent resource that connects people in the trans community regardless of where they live geographically. Additionally, it has a monthly series called "Something to Talk About", which aims to keep the conversation going regarding LGBTQ+ issues.
Jamie's Advice on Telling Others Your Child Is Trans
For parents who are concerned about breaking the news to their various social circles, it's important to remember that people love your child, and that should not change regardless of their gender. Because Jamie's husband is a Lutheran pastor, including their congregation in the conversation was paramount.
"When we take it from just an issue to talking about actual human beings, it changes everything," explained Jamie. "Starting with our own tiny faith community, people may not have understood what it means to be transgender, but they saw Rebekah. They love her, they support her, and they recognise the difference transitioning made in her life," said Jamie. "It opened the door to understanding more about trans people as a whole and realising what we need to change in the world for them to be able to be safe and live their lives."
Jamie's Advice on Advocating For Your Child
In Jamie's case, being an advocate for Rebekah means giving her a voice. Over the years, Jamie's done everything she can to ensure that Rebekah — and children like her — are able to live their best lives. While it seems like it would require a big leap to become an official ally of a marginalized community, it was a surprisingly natural progression for Jamie.
"There's a bright future for trans kids and there's a great community of support, too."
"I became an accidental advocate by following Rebekah's lead and figuring out what she needed to be safe and her true self in this world," she said. When Jamie first began advocating for Rebekah, she knew she needed to start with her family before moving onto the family's larger social circles. "We then discussed Rebekah's transition with the school as well as our faith community, which was so important. Those circles just kept getting bigger. Eventually, we became involved with the state legislature and working with the federal government to figure out all of the changes that kids like Rebekah need in our society in order to thrive." For instance, she recently testified at the New Jersey state legislature about the importance of letting trans individuals change the sex on their birth certificate.
While Jamie doesn't deny she and Rebekah often get pushback, the conversation surrounding trans rights is only getting louder and more focussed. "I meet trans youth all the time, and they are some of the most incredible young people just living their lives and changing the world by being who they are," shared Jamie. "There's a bright future for trans kids and there's a great community of support, too."
For parents who are interested in learning more about the trans community or are seeking out support for their trans children, head to TransYouthEquality.org or The Human Rights Campaign to learn more.