As of last week, 16-year-old Jaden Scott has been taking testosterone for one full year. For many transgender men and boys, that’s a significant anniversary, because the beginning of testosterone hormone therapy is a big step forward towards a male body, and a life where they’re truly living as themselves. Jaden threw a party in his Fredericton home to mark the occasion.
And his proud parents were totally on board.
His dad, David Scott, posted a sweet, giddy Twitter thread about the party, which quickly went viral. Since then, he’s received hundreds of comments from trans or gender-nonconforming people telling him they wish their parents were as supportive and affirming as he was.
“It breaks my heart a little bit,” Scott told HuffPost Canada. “Barring anything super extreme, like serial killer-type things, there’s no reason to give up on your kids or to throw them out of the house. It blows my mind that parents can do that.”
When Jaden, who was assigned female at birth, initially told his parents that he’s trans, Scott said he felt surprised and initially a bit confused. But overall, he said, he had two significant concerns: he wanted to learn more about what it means to be trans so that he could support his son, and he was worried about the discrimination and hate Jaden might face.
Scott and his wife Heather took on the project of educating themselves, which largely came from following Jaden’s lead.
“He’d already done all the research,” Scott explained. “He knew what studies were saying, and what it meant to be on [puberty] blockers, or be on HRT [hormone replacement therapy], or whatever.”
Around that time, social media had opened him up to a few public figures with trans family members. He started following Ottawa-based writer Amanda Jetté Knox, who’s married to a trans woman and has a trans daughter and two cisgender boys.
“She engaged people who were willing to learn with facts, and with studies,” Scott remembers. ”‘Oh, here’s a link. That’s a good article. Bookmark it.’ I started bookmarking all these articles she’s sharing, grabbing all that information.”
He was also moved by the amount of public support Canadian comic Colin Mochrie showed his trans daughter, Kinley.
“This is [the] exact same person with a new coat,” Mochrie has said of his daughter. “When you have a child, all you want for your child is for them to be safe, to be happy, and to be better than you are.”
Seeing visible examples of happy, affirming trans families was helpful for Scott, he said.
Watch: Colin Mochrie’s advice for parents of trans children. Story continues after video.
At first, there was a degree of awkwardness in the shift of language — using Jaden’s new name instead of his old one, and switching from “she/her” to “he/him” pronouns. That’s often the case early on in someone’s transition, but Scott’s advice is to “just keep trying,” because after a while it will just become a habit.
For him and Heather, one major part of that process was being mindful about using Jaden’s preferred pronouns all the time, not just when they were around their son. He made an effort to use the name “Jaden” when he talked about his two kids at work. He told his friends to correct him if he ever reverted back to the wrong pronouns.
“It seems small, in the grand scheme of things, but it’s so core to their identity,” Scott said. “Even that can help their mental health. Some people may not be able to transition medically for various reasons, financial or where they live, whatever. But anybody can change the name they’re called by.”
When people are resistant to make the change, he brings up the fact that we adjust names and identifiers for cis people all the time: “We know Michaels out there who we would never call ‘Mike,’” for instance.
The most important part of parenting, for Scott, is listening to your kids and letting them know you’re open and accepting. “It starts before they come out as trans or LGBTQ or ‘I don’t want to follow in the family footsteps,’” he said.
“When they’re young ... they pay attention to us. They see things that we don’t realize we’re doing in front of them. When they see us being transphobic or homophobic, they’re going to be afraid to come out. They’re going to internalize all that anguish. And it takes a toll on their mental health.
“So, listen to them and be open, before they end up hiding who they are. Because there’s a good chance you’re going to lose them at that point.”
He said he’s inspired by how Jaden lives so unapologetically. He’s even been inspired to embrace certain activities that aren’t seen as strictly “male” lately. He tried painting the trans flag on his thumb for Fredericton Pride last year, just to show support, and realized nail polish was fun to play around with.
“I like sparkles,” he said. “It makes me smile at work when I’m typing away.
“I wish I’d been as confident in myself in my 20s.”
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