From: Schofield, Tyson <Tyson.Schofield@leg.bc.ca>
Subject: MLA Michael Lee Trans Meeting Notes
MLA Michael Lee, his wife Christina, and I met with two trans folks on June 29th.
The two individuals we met have expressed that they wish to remain anonymous. Like many trans people, they prefer to be not out to the public at large as transgender individuals because it can result in harassment and genuine safety issues. Both are friends, having met at a youth support group, one being a trans woman and the other being a trans man. They are both in their early 20s, one having just graduated from university, and the other continuing his studies at UBC.
MLA Lee and his wife have known the trans man’s family since 2003, when MLA Lee coached him on a community soccer team. His mother hosted the conversation in her backyard and also joined in the meeting.
Our discussion was very informative. Both participants spoke about their experiences of being trans, starting from when they realized, around the start of high school, that they wanted to transition in their teen years but didn’t know how to do so, and also feared telling their parents and worrying about their response. They were both fortunate in that their schools—staff and peers—were supportive with their situations. However, they also chose their friends and confidantes carefully. They discussed the supports they received when they decided to receive hormone treatments and their subsequent medical procedures.
They discussed how useful the Trans Youth Drop-in program at the Broadway Youth Resource Centre was for them as they not only met there and developed other friendships, but both also received peer-led support through their transition. The trans man had attended those sessions weekly for years.
It was expressed to MLA Lee that there is a great focus placed on educating youth about the importance of acceptance and inclusivity of trans folk, but not enough information on steps you can take if you do feel you are, in fact, trans. Information on this had to be sourced out by the internet or by attending programs such as the Trans Youth Drop-in program.
Another important topic discussed was the need for support for parents when their child expresses the want and need to transition. We were told about the Family Acceptance Project and how it was particularly informative for the parent who hosted the meeting. She is completely supportive of her son now, but she said it had been very difficult when her child first expressed the want to transition. She says if she had had the booklet at that time, things would have been very different and it wouldn’t have been as challenging, as she believes with information and support – none of which she or her husband had at the time—they would have handled things very differently.
More topics of conversation included the differences between those transitioning from male to female in comparison to those transitioning from female to male. This included the need for many trans women to receive vocal feminization training with speech pathologists. It was mentioned by the trans woman participant that vocal feminization training helped, but the waitlist was long (2 years), and it was tough work mentally and physically. It’s still a conscious effort for her to constantly be aware of the pitch of her voice and whether she’s talking or laughing in too low a tone.
The trans man participant explained that, in contrast, by taking testosterone, one usually sees physiological and vocal results in their transition from female to male with relatively less interventions, since your voice will then naturally go lower although for some, it may not be low enough and still be a bit on the high side. We also spoke about perceived stigmas facing trans women who, like all females, need to be more aware of their safety, but even more so as a trans person, as society seems to be relatively more accepting of trans men versus trans women. The trans woman participant also noted that there are more societal expectations on a woman’s appearance, versus a man’s, and that pressure is even more so on trans women.
We then gifted one of the trans flags we received from T’eVine and explained that we also have a trans flag posted in the window of our Vancouver-Langara Community Office, showing our office is supportive and a safe space for the trans community.
Thank you for reaching out to our office with this initiative. It was an educational experience for us all and a pleasure to speak to these two young adults who were kind enough to share their stories with us.
On behalf of MLA Michael Lee, Vancouver-Langara