“My name is Libby..
I am 7 years old and I am transgender
I love my school and my friends
and they love me too.
I don’t want to be scared to go to the bathroom
or anywhere public.
I never ever want to use the boys’ bathroom.
It would be gross and weird.
Please keep me safe.”
INTERVIEW WITH RAINBOW GODDESS’ MOM
A few years ago a mutual friend (and fellah Goddess) had told me she wanted to introduce me to Rachel, who’s honest mothering approach was similar to mine. The first time we saw Rachel and her family was at all of our our children’s yoga class. I remember thinking I heard Rachel telling the yoga teacher that one of her children was wearing a dress that day.
The next time I officially met Rachel, she was excitedly making phone calls that her oldest daughter Libby (whom she then told me was transgender) had won VIP tickets to the Ariana Grande concert.
I immediately loved Rachel because she was strong, brilliant and laidback about the less-than-glamorous parts of parenting. Eventually, I started waking up with ideas to ask Libby to model for The Goddess Project: Made in Her Image as the Rainbow Goddess (of course!). When I finally approached Rachel and Libby about her joining the project, to my delight, they agreed.
Very busy activist mom of three, Rachel is everything you want your Creatrix to be but is content to be the driving force in the background. This family is a gift and an omen of hope to the world.
She let me interview her on what it was like to be a transgender Goddess’ mom:
When did you first sense that Libby might be transgender?
That’s hard to answer. From a very early age, around 18 months or maybe younger, it became very evident that she wasn’t like little boys we interacted with. But at that point I assumed I must have an artistic or gay son. By the age of 3 she was insistent on playing dress up with girls clothes and drawing pictures of herself with long hair – always with long rainbow hair. She began refusing to cut her hair and I respected that, as I would hope any parents would respect their child’s body autonomy. We lived a couple of years in the gender nonconforming world, not totally sure of where things were headed but being very cognizant to give her space to be herself. As she getting close to turning 6, she had become very angry and depressed, refusing to go out in spaces where she didn’t have existing relationships, hiding behind me if I attempted to introduce her to someone new and ultimately breaking down insisting that she could not go on letting anyone thing she was a boy – that was a couple of months before her 6th birthday.
Did anything in your life prepare you for raising a transgender child?
I feel strongly that I’ve been on a path for most of my adult life in preparation for this moment without ever knowing it. My background is in cultural applied anthropology. I have studied cultures around the world that revere members of their community that identify outside of the western binary model of either man or woman. I certainly never anticipated having a transgender child myself but between my education and travels, I have been exposed to gender outside of the binary that helped open my mind to the possibility as my child showed us who she is. And I’m a Taurus… so there was never a day I wasn’t going to stand up against discrimination, especially against my own child.
How did you know how to help her transition? What resources were there? Did you have a support system? How did your families help?
I didn’t know. I started researching and initially joined online support groups. I was determined to create a community for families like ours, then after reaching out to families in different cities across the nation, I was introduced to a friend of a friend who invited us to an existing local support group. We have also had a ton of support from our community. Anyone who knows and interacts with our family has fully accepted us without condition – no one that actually knows my daughter could debate who she is. Unfortunately, family rejection is a very common theme within the trans community and while I wouldn’t say that we have necessarily been rejected, but it has not been as easy for extended family to accept our daughter as it has been for those that we interact with regularly.
You now work for a LGBTQ organization?
I am the Education and Resource Coordinator for Equality Texas and I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with the community, support other families like mine and educate others on how to be better allies. I am so fortunate and so honored to be able to stand up for my daughter and thousands of kids like her as my job!
How did you start speaking at conferences? Did you ever think you’d some day become a spokesperson? Sometimes Libby goes with you?
Texas is an interesting place to be. We have some incredibly hate filled legislators working to create discriminatory legislation, we also have an amazing community of transgender folks, their friends and families that have banned together to fight that discrimination. I never had any intention of being so visible, I never dreamed we would be put into the positions that we faced last year. I fervently believe that every parent should have consent from their child before sharing their story, and we did have consent. We also didn’t have any clue what that meant long term. I testified at the state capitol 3 times last year against proposed bathroom bills – bills that would do nothing but push transgender people out of public spaces and target transgender youth in schools. Libby went to Austin with me all three times. She loved being with her community – though she knew why we were there and was insistent on testifying herself, she was guarded from the hateful comments and presence. On March 7, 2017, I sat in the capitol for 14 hours waiting to testify. Those that came to oppose SB6 were well over 1000, we sat in the many overflow rooms watching the hearing that would eventually take 22 hours to complete. Never in my life have I witnessed so much hate in one space. It was one of the most deeply painful days of my life, to recognize how deeply committed this group of 200ish people were to slandering my innocent child’s existence, and so many others… many were there but SO many were not there. I couldn’t even remember what I said when I finally had an opportunity to speak. There had been a heated scathing of the ally testimony immediately preceding mine by a variety of senators that left Libby in panicked, fearful tears unaware of why the people in the room were so angry. I was and still am dumbfounded by the ignorance and hate that came out of those that are entrusted to ensure the safety of all Texans and I knew then that there would be no turning back. If I couldn’t stand up for my own child, who would?
Why was CNN on your front yard? How did you deal with that?
CNN called me after our entire family testified in the special session hearing against SB3 and SB 91. It wasn’t a great experience. We learned a lot about where we need to set boundaries to protect our family and vet journalists better.
Libby seems so happy, healthy and brave. I think she will give hope to many children and parents. What is the wisest thing you’ve ever heard her say?
Ha! If only I had a memory or wrote those things down when she said them! She definitely feels a responsibility to her community and wants to speak out. She may not always want to, but for the moment, she does. She reads a lot of books about the civil rights era – Mexican American segregation in schools in the 40’s in California – where my husband’s family is from. She also has a few books about Ruby Bridges. It is impossible for her to understand the longterm fall out of this activism at her age but she is settled in knowing that she is standing up for what is right and just for many people, not just herself.
What does Libby want to be when she grows up?
A fashion designer… an unwavering choice!
What do you want our audience to know or DO in support of the transgender community? Are there any ways they can help?
The biggest thing anyone can do is to stand up to discriminatory actions or comments. If you hear someone making a derogatory comment, call them on it – it can be as simple as “that’s not true”. Just something to let the audience know that what was said was not acceptable and should not be tolerated.
Thank you Rachel (and Libby) for your insight and courage. We all stand with you!
See Libby as the Rainbow Goddess here: http://freesophia.com/the-goddess-project-made-in-her-image-5/
For more on the Goddess Project: Made in Her Image see FreeSophia.com or the Facebook Free Sophia Page.