Metro Weekly

Trans United Fund releases historic ad featuring parents of transgender children

Ad aims to educate public about trans issues, in response to various forms of anti-trans hysteria

Zoila Fajardo, her husband and her daughter, Ariel (Photo from Trans United Fund's ad, via YouTube).

Zoila Fajardo, her husband and her daughter, Ariel (Photo from Trans United Fund’s ad, via YouTube).

Amid a constant barrage of attacks against the transgender community, parents of transgender children are stepping up and speaking out on behalf of their sons and daughters. A new ad, “Meet My Child,” features parents explaining how they came to accept their children.

It was commissioned by Trans United Fund, a recently formed political advocacy organization for transgender people, and comes amid a slew of anti-transgender legislation being pushed in states, demagoguery by major political figures painting transgender people as a threat, and a worrying trend of anti-trans violence and murders.

“Trans United Fund was founded on the conviction that nothing is more transformative than trans people and our families sharing their lives authentically,” Hayden Mora, a founding member of and board chair of the Trans United Fund, said in a statement. “For too long, the voices of bullies who play to the public’s worst fears and demonize our community have been the loudest.  For too long, trans people and our families have been kept out of the spotlight for fear that the truth of our lives would be ‘off message.’ This ad shares the story of three incredibly loving mothers and their children. The story of a mother’s love, dreams and hopes for her children and fierce commitment to protect them is something that all Americans understand.”

The ad was co-produced with Sundance award-winning producer and director Melissa Regan, creator of the trans documentary “No Dumb Questions.” By making the concept of transgender familiar to other people, the Trans United Fund hopes to start conversations about the special problems facing transgender people, so that more people will question the need for, and oppose, anti-trans initiatives or laws.

“Even though we saw Ted Cruz’ attempts to use the trans community as a wedge issue fail, the Department of Justice stepping up to hold North Carolina accountable for HB2 and recent victories in Alabama and Texas upholding local laws protecting trans people, the struggle is far from over,” added Andrea Jenkins, another founding member of the Trans United Fund.

“We all recognize the tremendous transphobia in our culture and that attempts to legislate discrimination against trans people will only continue,” said Jenkins. “This ad puts a face on families with trans children in a bold and authentic way, allowing them to tell their stories with heart and sincerity. It does not get more real than this.”

Zoila Fajardo, of Rockville, Md., who is one of the mothers featured in the video, recalled attending a recent vigil in honor of Keyonna Blakeney, a 22-year-old transgender woman who was killed in her Rockville hotel room, and being greatly impacted by listening to Blakeney’s father talk about how much he loved his daughter.

“My daughter Ariel is only five years old. She is beautiful and perfect, just the way god made her. She is also trans,” Fajardo said. “Like many little girls, she loves Elsa and Barbie and dresses. Unlike most little girls her age, she has had to learn to be strong at a very young age. She has had to learn to stand up to bullies.  … I’m scared for her and I know that greatest danger to her is other people’s ignorance. I’ve committed to my life to educating others to make this world safer. I expect politicians to take my little girl’s life seriously and to be working to make her safer not in greater danger.”

“I love my son more than anything and I just want him to have the same opportunities any other young person has,” says Melissa DeStefano, of Pottstown, Pa., another mother featured in the ad. “Before my son came out as trans, I’d never heard about trans issues and I had a lot of questions and that’s okay. We are on this journey together. What’s not okay is bullying kids and making a dangerous world even more dangerous for trans folks like my son.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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