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Shire Families of Transgender Youth
Ted Talk Call it Fashion Policing & the Double Standards of Gender Expression
Bookmark this page and come back often as we post the personal stories shared with us by those parenting trans and gender diverse children of any age.
Xandie & Michelle
My name is Michelle*, and I live in Melbourne, in a beachside suburb not too far from the city. Our family has grown and changed over the past year and I can now say that I am the proud mother of a gender diverse young person, who is loved and affirmed and celebrated.
I am keen to share our story because my child’s journey has not been straightforward, nothing has been simple or easy. I hope that in telling our story something of what I share might resonate with other parents. Our story, which is at its heart about a family and the love we have for our non binary child might strike a chord for other families with non typical journeys.
My child Xander* or, Xandie as we mostly call them, is 16-years-old and identifies as ‘genderqueer’.
Despite the label, Xandie is a kid that tends to avoid pigeon holes and self imposed boxes. Xandie prefers to describe themself as a non-binary gendered person, with an emphasis on “not a girl”. We use they/them pronouns and Xandie occasionally uses he/him when they refer to themself.
Being genderqueer means that Xandie identifies mostly as male, but not entirely. However they prefer to present and indicate their gender expression in a very masculine way.
In August of 2016 Xandie felt confident enough to confide in us that they had been questioning their gender identity for quite awhile, but now felt the need to align their gender expression with their new sense of identity. The process began with a binder.
A binder is a firm, restricting undergarment worn to minimise breasts and achieve a flat-chested look.
At this point we had no idea what a binder was, or where to get one - so we were supplied with some websites. That was a steep learning curve, and some of the ideas were challenging and concerning, but we came to understand that Xandie’s breasts were creating gender dysphoria and deep feelings of discomfort and unease with their body.
These feelings were deeply seated and baffling to Xandie - they just knew that having breasts and appearing feminine was not who they were and it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to continue presenting to the world in a feminine way.
Part of looking around on the internet meant I was faced with the disturbing statistics around suicide and self harm and risk taking behaviours. I was more concerned about this than the idea of restrictive underwear.
At this point we contacted Parents of Gender Diverse Children who were able to refer us to social and mental health support for Xandie as well as family support in our area.
Our story is not typical - and the arc we took to understanding what it is to be non-binary and genderqueer has taken a lot of education and discussion and listening from us, so that we could shift our very binary understanding of gender. We have done it, because the most important thing is that our child is comfortable in their skin and happy with who they are. The package just isn’t that important to us.
* Names have been changed.