Being a Parent of a Gender-fluid Youth

My child, assigned female at birth, is discovering who they are. They have been gay, straight, pansexual, and everything in between. They have been male, female, both, and neither. They go by both their given name and the name they chose for themselves as a male.

They use the men’s restroom in public and have a “boy” haircut, but still love flowy dresses they can twirl and feel pretty in. They bind their breasts when they feel like a boy, but wear a basic bra when they feel like a girl. They don’t wear a bikini to the pool, but rather a swim shirt and trunks to feel the most comfortable in their skin.

“I am incredibly proud of the person my child is becoming and look forward to all the things they will accomplish.”

Since they now identify as both genders, but more often male, they chose the label gender-fluid. Gender-fluid means “denoting or relating to a person who does not identify themselves as having a fixed gender,” as from the Google dictionary.

Even though they now fit into one of the many labels available to them, it has been hard for me to accept the loss of my little girl. I have felt confusion and fear, sometimes so strangulating I fight back tears. Confusion as to whether I did something wrong in their younger years, or if there was something I could have done better to help them accept the gender they were born in. As I’ve had time to reflect, it has become apparent to me that my confusion came from a place of misunderstanding. An ignorance of how gender expression can be more than just male or female; that androgyny is an expression of gender as well, and there are many ways to explore gender other than simply what I grew up to accept. I have come to understand my child and I are on a path of self-discovery together, learning and growing into more well-rounded people as a result. Continue reading

Abstinence Education Harms LGTBQ+ Youth

Did you know that lesbian, bisexual, and gay teens are just as (if not more) likely to have or father a teen pregnancy than their heterosexual peers? Furthermore, as most major data sources fail to gather data on gender identity, the trans teen pregnancy rate is largely unknown.

Last month was Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. This month, June, is LGBT Pride Month. That makes now the perfect time to discuss queer teen pregnancy and what we can do about it.

We can create a world where every young person feels empowered to make choices for themselves, and where every pregnancy is planned and wanted.

To combat queer teen pregnancy, reduce homophobia, and save taxpayer money, the federal government should redirect the $90 million budget for abstinence education toward LGBTQ+ inclusive comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) programs. All too often, sexual health education focuses on heterosexual and cisgender youth. LGBTQ+ people are often only discussed in tandem with HIV/AIDS. As a result, queer youth report that sex ed feels irrelevant to their needs and further stigmatizes them. Worse yet, the federal government spends $90 million annually on sexual health education programs that teach sexual abstinence instead of equipping young people with the tools and resources they need.

This may soon change — but not for the better: President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, while maintaining $85 million dollars for abstinence education programs. Continue reading

A New Campaign for Back to School

Oftentimes, when we think about back-to-school campaigns, what first comes to mind are the countless promotions on things like school supplies, clothing, backpacks, and laptops. All the essentials you need to start the year off on the right foot.

Rarer are the promotions around health, let alone, gasp, sexual health. But the facts are in. Young people are having sex. By 12th grade, more than 59 percent of high school seniors in Arizona report having sexual intercourse.

Meanwhile, comprehensive sexuality education isn’t a state-mandated requirement for Arizona’s schools, and Arizona teens are more likely to become pregnant than most teens across the United States. Given this information, it isn’t entirely surprising that more than three-quarters of teens, ages 15 to 17, say they need more information about birth control, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted infections.

This year, do more than find the best bargains on backpacks or laptops to prepare your teen for school. Take some time to share information and resources with your teen about sexual health and healthy relationships so they can be ready for what the school year might bring.

And you don’t have to go it alone! Planned Parenthood Arizona is here to help by offering a back to school promotion of its own as part of the Be Healthy, Be Safe, Be You! campaign.

Teens, along with their parents, can visit their local Planned Parenthood health center to meet with expert health care providers and get more information about sexual health as well as learn about different birth control options in order to find a method that’s right for them. The best part? Planned Parenthood Arizona is offering a $50 savings — waiving the price of the visit to 300 teens — when they purchase their first three packs of pills or Depo shot.

Call to make an appointment — 602-277-PLAN (7526) in the Phoenix area, 520-408-PLAN (7526) in the Tucson area, or toll-free 855-207-PLAN (7526) from elsewhere in Arizona.

At the end of the day, no matter what time of year it is, each and every parent should consider the importance of proactive, ongoing, open communication around sexual health with their teen. It’s simple; the best thing we as a community can do for teens is provide them with the tools and resources to become responsible and confident adults.

Want to learn more about the campaign, get the details on the special August promotion, and find tip sheets for starting the conversation with your teen (or your parent)? Find it all here at

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Hobby Lobby SCOTUSThe fight over medication-induced abortions continues here in Arizona. (NYT)
  • Sure, the birth control pill is great for keeping your womb empty, but did you know it also makes sex hotter? #WinWin (Slate XX)
  • Birth control without a co-pay looks pretty much doomed thanks to the chumps at Hobby Lobby. (Slate)
  • Things will only get harder on the access front for birth control if Hobby Lobby wins this case. Best of luck even talking to your doctor about birth control if you have insurance. (Think Progress)
  • Jon Stewart’s rant about Hobby Lobby’s (referred to here as “Jesus Christ Superstore”) shenanigans is epic. (The Wire)
  • The one question that confounds so many of us in the midst of this “religious liberty” Hobby Lobby debacle is this: WHY THE HELL ARE WE STILL ARGUING ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL IN 2014??? (CNN)
  • Teenagers are positively brimming with sexual responsibility these days! (RH Reality Check)
  • The asinine law (requiring admitting privileges at local hospitals) that caused 16 abortion providers to close in Texas has been upheld by a federal appeals court. (Time)
  • An “abortion doula” speaks on the range of emotions involved in helping women terminate pregnancies. Very powerful, moving article. (The Atlantic)
  • Are we ever going to make male birth control happen? (Bustle)