Q. Hey Jen! How do you know so much about Gender anyway?
A. Well, I'm not transgender myself, in case that's what you're wondering.
At least not in the binary sense of wanting to transition from female to male. But I have always questioned traditional gender rules. I read Ms. Magazine at the tender age of 12 -- in fact, I have the first issue with Wonder Woman on the cover in my office.
When I was twenty-something, I played with gender expression. I shaved only one arm pit and sported what I thought of as a masculine/feminine haircut, but which I now sheepishly recognize as a "mullet." These days, I might be considered non-binary. Back then, we called it "androgynous" -- like David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Laurie Anderson and other musicians of the day.
In 1995, I conducted a two-semester research project on "crossdressers" at Kutztown University. While most of the information I found at the time gave a distorted and incomplete picture of gender issues, I discovered a more accurate story in the heartfelt letters the respondents sent me.
Ten years later, I rebooted my interest in gender when I learned that a family member assigned male at birth identified as female. As I learned more, I resolved to share this information with other families.
Dr. Lisa O'Connor, a hormone doctor who founded Health Transitions, acted as a mentor, assigning books for me to read and guiding me on transgender clients. I continued learning by listening to hundreds of transgender clients, attending conferences such as the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, the Gender Conference East (now NYC), and others. After a few years, I became the teacher at the aformentioned conferences as well as the New Jersey Counseling Association, Columbia University, schools, hospitals, and doctors' offices.
Click here for a list of hormones prescribers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. Some of them require a therapist to conduct an assessment for readiness to take hormones, and Jen can do that for you.
The Institute for Personal Growth, which has locations in Jersey City, Highland Park and Freehold, NJ, posts a comprehensive Transgender Resource Guide which lists 60 pages of resources, including Advocacy, Crossgender supplies, Electrolysis, Legal Services, Support Groups, and Vocal Coaching.
Being transgender is not inherently problematic. It's the discrimination and stigma - or the fear of it - that does the most damage. It makes sense, then, that since disapproving people cause the problem, accepting people can be part of the solution. Below are just a few of the options.
The Renaissance Transgender Association is a Non-profit, Non-political, Educational and Social Transgender Support Group Founded and Designed to Educate and Support Transgender People and Those Who Care About Them Without Prejudice.
is a social and educational group for gender-fluid/gender-creative and transgender youth and their parents. The group offers a safe space for gender-fluid children and teens to be completely themselves and for parents to share their challenges, joys and questions. This project is fully funded by North Jersey Pride.
Allied Parents(for parents of those identifying with the LGBTQ+ communities)
Sponsors youth groups, parties, proms, arts and cultural programs, rides to Pride Marches and other events. Check out their Facebook page.
Transgender Family Support group in Somerville. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset and The Pride Center of New Jersey have launched this group to help spouses, partners and adult children better understand, accept and cope with their transgender family members.
The Philadelphia Trans-Wellness Conference offers workshops and networking events for transgender individuals and their allies, families, and providers for free. This year the conference will take place August 2 to 4, 2018.
The Gender Conference East offers a safe space for children and youth across the gender spectrum, as well as their families and the professionals working with them. While parents go to workshops, kids can do creative play activities that allow them to express their gender.
The Standards of Caredescribes the criteria doctors generally require patients to meet in order to be considered for Hormone Replacement Therapy or Sex Reassignment Surgery.
Parents of transgender children should be advised that today's recommendations on how to treat gender variant children are different than the recommendations made in the 1970s. Despite the Free to Be You and Me program, parents were told to allow their children only "gender appropriate toys, dress and activities." This practice is now considered to be harmful. Margie Nichols, Ph.D. explains the change in approaches in this essay.
The Family Acceptance Program offers on-line brochures describing how families can help support their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children. These family education booklets have been designated as a “Best Practice” resource for suicide prevention for LGBT people by the national Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention.
Schools in Transition brochures, developed by The National Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, Gender Spectrum and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, outline the best practices in supporting Transgender Students in School.
Copyright 2020 by Jennifer Whitlock, 526 Northampton Street, Easton, PA 18042; Jen@JenWhitlock.com; 973-222-3750