Op-ed: This 12-Year-Old With Two Moms Has a Plea for All Teens

Published in The Advocate.

What do you do when you are 12 years old and you want to help change the world? You have a slumber party! That is exactly what my sixth-grade friends Alika, Katie, Kat, and I did. My name is Abigail Hasting-Tharp. I am a 12-year-old from Salem, Ore. Youth today do not want to wait until we are adults for the world to be a better place. We have powerful voices and active minds. We have something valuable to contribute to the world now, not some time in the distant future. Yet we need our adult allies to believe in us and help empower us to make that difference now and not wait.

What could the purpose of our slumber party be? Alika, Katie, Kat and I want the world to know that youth think that marriage equality for all is a no-brainer! Love is love. Family is family. It is really that simple. I have two moms and two little brothers. I love them and they love me. My friends and I don’t see what the big deal is about same-sex couples being married legally or having children. We feel there are real-world concerns that urgently need our attention, not the fabricated ones that those opposed to marriage equality make up.

 I am excited to introduce to you #OurTurnNow, a national youth-led social media campaign that highlights the voices of youth, aged 12-18, in favor of marriage equality for all. Fueled with healthy doses of giggles, laughter, excitement, and determination at that initial brainstorming session (our slumber party), with the help of advocates from several national organizations including COLAGE, One Million Kids, the Outspoken Generation, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and the Rainbow Letters, our ideas evolved to launch #OurTurnNow.

With the U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality hearing happening Tuesday, we are calling for youth aged 12-18 to unite their voices in the simplest of ways — by posting messages, selfies with friends and family, and images of support holding a sign that reads “#OurTurnNow” on social media using the hashtag #OurTurnNow. We think it is time for youth to make our voices known in the court of public opinion. The collection of posts is displayed on the campaign website OurTurnNow.org.

I want to thank several leading LGBTQ advocacy organizations, including Marriage Equality USA, COLAGE, Family Equality Council, GLAAD, GLSEN, the Personal Stories Project, and Our Family Coalition, for helping us get the word out about #OurTurnNow. A shout-out of heartfelt thanks to Brian Silva and Marriage Equality USA! Thank you for believing that youth voices are important and that we can make a difference.

My biggest advocates are my moms. I don’t take their support for granted, because not every youth has support. Youth are kicked out of their family’s homes or their religious communities and/or bullied for being LGBTQ. I have experienced being shunned by all the children in my class, labeled as weird for having two moms. No one would play with me or talk to me. At my school now, my friends and I interrupt bullying for any reason, including homophobia, if we hear or see it anywhere. We feel emboldened by each other’s willingness to be visible about what is right, treating everyone as though they matter and are of equal worth. That’s what #OurTurnNow is all about, youth being visible with our support for people who are LGBTQ and for marriage equality for all.

Youth feel there are far more important issues to worry about, like that one in five children in the U.S. live in poverty or that bullying for any reason exists. We ought to feel threatened by global warming, not by people just because they are LGBTQ or black! Let us not forget that Black Lives Matter, that basically we have yet to realize the goals set out in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. We need to rally together around issues that are unfair and privilege one category of people over another based on the mythical idea of normal. The over 1,400 civil rights and protections that accompany civil marriage ought to be available for people like my moms and for families like mine. It’s #OurTurnNow! Post, post, post, and then post some more!

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world!” —Anne Frank

ABIGAIL HASTING-THARP is a 12-year-old sixth-grader living in Oregon. She loves learning, swimming, and volunteering at a local wildlife rescue center. She hopes to someday be a marine biologist.

One Million Kids For Equality Joins National Youth Organizations For #OURTURNNOW Social Media Campaign To Support Marriage Equality

COLAGE, One Million Kids For Equality, the Outspoken Generation, Gay-Straight Alliance Network and The Rainbow Letters partner on a national youth-led effort.

Seattle, WA – 4/13/2015 One Million Kids For Equality, today joined youth leaders from several national organizations including COLAGE, One Million Kids, the Outspoken Generation, Gay-Straight Alliance Network and Rainbow Letters in support of #OurTurnNow. One Million Kids For Equality is participating in the online effort to call on youth to unite their voices in support of nationwide marriage equality through April 28th, the date of the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing on the landmark cases.

“We are proud to be a partner in the #OurTurnNow campaign,” said One Million Kids President Brad Delaney. “Youth voices are some of the most powerful across all avenues of advocacy. They were instrumental in the overturning of DOMA as well as Prop 8, they were instrumental in passing marriage at the ballot box in four states in 2012, and this campaign allows this generation of youth to raise their collective voices once more in public support of marriage equality.”

#OurTurnNow provides youth a platform to showcase their support of marriage equality in the United States. The campaign encourages youth to creatively express their pro-marriage stance through their own social channels. Group selfies with friends that are pro-marriage equality, pictures of their same-sex headed families or messages of love are just a few ways the campaign encourages youth to get involved ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing.

“Everyone deserves a happily ever after,” said Abigail Hasting-Tharp, one of the youth leaders responsible for the campaign concept. The #OurTurnNow campaign aims to use social media to unite youth allies and inform the adults of the country that “we think differently. Love should be celebrated, not shunned. ”

The collection of #OurTurnNow social media posts and more information on the lead organizations can be viewed on the campaign website www.ourturnnow.org.

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#OurTurnNow Youth Campaign launches

Published in the LGBT Weekly.

Today MEUSA joined youth leaders from several national organizations including COLAGE, One Million Kids, the Outspoken Generation, Gay-Straight Alliance Network and Rainbow Letters in support of #OurTurnNow. MEUSA is participating in the online effort calling on youth to unite their voices in support of nationwide marriage equality through April 28, the date of the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing on the 6th Circuit marriage cases.

“We are proud to be a partner in the #OurTurnNow campaign, stated MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva in an email. “Youth voices were instrumental in the overturning of DOMA as well as Prop. 8, and this campaign provides the current generation of youth the opportunity to raise their collective voices once more in public support of marriage equality.”

#OurTurnNow gives young people aged 12-18 a platform to showcase their support of marriage equality in the United States. The campaign encourages youth to creatively express their pro-marriage stance through their own social channels. Group selfies with friends that are pro-marriage equality, pictures of their same-sex headed families, or messages of love are just a few ways the campaign encourages youth to get involved ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court marriage hearing.

“Everyone deserves a happily ever after,http://lgbtweekly.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=post” said Abigail Hasting-Tharp, one of the youth leaders responsible for the campaign concept. The #OurTurnNow campaign aims to use social media to unite youth allies and inform the adults of the country that ‘we think differently.’ Love should be celebrated, not shunned.”

The collection of #OurTurnNow social media posts and more information on the lead organizations can be viewed on the campaign Web site www.ourturnnow.org.

Social Media Campaign #OurTurnNow Launches for Marriage

Published on The Seattle Lesbian.

Ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality hearings, youth leaders from several national organizations including COLAGE, One Million Kids, the Outspoken Generation, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and The Rainbow Letters have launched #OurTurnNow, a social media effort to raise youth voices in support of nationwide marriage equality. The youth leaders are calling on their generation to unite their voices in the simplest way – by posting messages and images of support on social media using the hashtag #OurTurnNow. The collection of messages will be displayed on the campaign website ourturnnow.org.

The social media campaign evolved from a Valentine’s Day idea thought up by 12-year-old Abigail Hasting-Tharp and a group of her friends in Oregon. The group wanted to send the U.S. Supreme Court Justices Valentine’s Day cards as a gesture to urge them to support love.

“Anyone, anywhere, should be allowed to declare their love for anyone and feel safe to do so regardless of gender,” said Hasting-Tharp.

Unsure of how quickly they could rally enough support for the Valentine’s Day delivery, Abigail and her friends decided to unite with other youth groups for an even larger presence online.

“Laws should be no barrier to love. This is why we hope those with the power to make change – justices, politicians and everyday people – will support marriage for everyone, including those who are the same gender,” Hasting-Tharp said.

According to the Movement Advancement Project, same-sex couples can marry in 35 states and Washington, D.C. There are also three states where appellate or federal court rulings have been stayed or contravened and marriage licenses are currently unavailable to same-sex couples statewide.

“Everyone deserves a happily ever after,” said Hasting-Tharp. The #OurTurnNow campaign aims to use social media to unite youth allies and inform the adults of the country that “we think differently.  Love should be celebrated, not shunned.”

To show support using their social media networks, youth are asked to creatively express their views on marriage equality using #OurTurnNow. The campaign encourages youth to get involved ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing through sharing messages of love and support, selfies, or photos of their same-sex-headed families. On April 28, the campaign will come together in a social media storm where youth can stand in solidarity with those on the ground rallying for marriage equality throughout the United States.

“This project was inspired by youth advocates, and our roles as partners has been to empower young people to share their voices; voices that have been a powerful agent of change in the struggle for our families’ equality,” said Annie Van Avery, Executive Director of COLAGE.

The campaign is operating with the advising support from several leading LGBTQ advocacy organizations, including Marriage Equality USA, Family Equality Council, GLAAD, GLSEN, The Personal Stories Project, and Our Family Coalition.

One Million Kids For Equality Applauds New Idaho Anti-bullying Legislation

“I’m very excited that this bill has become a law to protect not just LGBTQ kids, but all kids. It is important that all kids are made to feel safe in Idaho and across the nation. I’m also very enthusiastic about having been invited to be present as the Governor signs this bill into existence.” –DW Trantham

Boise, ID – At 4pm today, Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed into law brand new anti-bullying legislation that is fully inclusive of the LGBT community.

The bill requires that the Idaho State Department of Education provide schools and districts with requirements for disseminating information and professional development around bullying. Rather than focusing on punitive measures, this bill focuses on early intervention to provide for assessment, needs and counseling of bullies and their victims.

“It was important for the Board of Education in Idaho to get behind this issue, as it can not be done locally. Now, not only are those who are victims of bullying going to be helped, but also the bullies themselves will be dealt with in a manner that seeks to reach the source of the bullying thereby eradicating this issue once and for all.” – Carmen Stanger

The original sponsor of HB246, Idaho House Representative and Idaho House Committee Member, Ilana Rubel, first heard the story of a young man named Ryan Zicha while his mother was testifying in favor of additional legislation related to modifying the current Idaho Human Rights Act. Upon hearing Julie Zicha’s testimony about the beatings and discrimination her son had to endure in the Idaho public school system on a regular basis, Ilana Rubel felt personal and professional responsibility to act on behalf of the safety of Idaho students. She sponsored HB246 and introduced it to the Idaho House of Representatives on 3/10 of 2015.

“People should know how far and wide this issue reaches, by unifying the voices of those left behind to one collective that cannot be ignored we hope to do just that.” – Julie Zicha

The Senate passed HB246 on Tuesday March 31st and it was delivered to Governor Otter for his signature shortly thereafter.

“To be present thought this process has been an amazing journey, not only for me as a parent, but for my daughter as well. This is a victory for kids from all walks of life and backgrounds.” – Tim Trantham

Many different people and organizations have worked on this effort behind the scenes. One Million Kids For Equality has been in close contact and coordinating with our members on the ground who have been instrumental in the passage of this legislation.

One Million Kids For Equality works to engage, educate, and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and the children of LGBT parents with a voice around equality. For information, visit our website at onemillionkids.org

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I am Tim, the Father of DW

My name is Tim Trantham. I am the single parent to DW Trantham, a 13-year-old male to female transgender activist. This is my story of change for the visitors of One Million Kids for Equality.

First off, I will tell you that DW was born a girl. She did not at any time like boy toys or clothes. I assumed, early on, that her female tendencies meant she was gay. At that time, I was so unaware of even the term “transgender”.

DW’s mother and I had another baby when DW was very young. Our second baby was still-born at full term. DW’s mother could never recover from this. This eventually caused the end of our marriage. It led to her crawling into a brown bottle, which she has still not climbed out of.
DW and I were apart from Easter to Fathers’ Day that year. At that point, I moved to Idaho to be with her. Within the next few years, a friend of DW’s showed her a story about “transgender people”. This changed her forever. Now, she knew who she was and that she was not alone. To be honest, I was so mad at that lady for sharing this story with my child without my permission.
The girl clothes and make-up started showing up, as well as several Barbie dolls. I tried to put a stop to all of this! “You are a boy and by God, you will act like it” was my mantra at the time. I would go to DW’s mother’s house and clean it out. I would throw away girly clothes and make-up. I went so far as to gather up all of the Barbies and burn them in the fire pit. All these things kept coming back!

Around the time DW started 5th grade, the relationship between her and her mother fell apart. I moved DW into my home full-time. She was so happy to be with me at first, but when the school I put her in made her cut off her hair and wear boys uniforms, she was devastated. Me, I thought that this may be what she needed to finally stop all of this girly stuff. I did not allow this in my home!
DW soon became very depressed. I started finding things saying, “I want to die” written in notebooks and on little pieces of paper around the house. We were no longer very close.
Counseling, I thought! That will fix everything. It did not “fix” DW. That’s probably because she did not need to be fixed. I did! Her counselor called and told me that DW had gender dysphoria. “You people must be joking,” I told them. The counselor recommended drugs for DW to help with her depression. I kind of thought that I was the one who needed “drugs” at this point.

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About the same time, I was injured on my construction job and put on office duty. One day, out of boredom and curiosity, I did the unthinkable. I typed “transgender” into the search box and went surfing. What I found changed my life permanently. Suicide statistics slapped me in the face. Prejudice and discrimination kicked me in the groin. I spent the next few days in recovery from that Google search and a lot of time in self-reflection, as well. Then, I began my own transformation. I realized it was time for me to change, change and save my child! I made BIG changes. I got a new job and we moved to Boise. I gave DW the acceptance for which she had been searching. I told her, “You are my daughter and I love you for who you are.” Then, the unthinkable, I went shopping for make-up and girl clothes.

Sixth grade, I asked for a meeting with the principal and counselor. I told them DW would be entering school as a girl. Only they knew our secret. This was DW’s best year in school so far. She was living as she was meant to be, but one day DW decided the secrecy was not for her. She wanted to make a difference for others like herself. Just before the end of her 6th grade year, I got a phone call from a television news reporter, Lauren Johnson. Lauren works for Today’s 6 and Fox 9 here in Boise. DW took it upon herself to send an email saying she wanted to come clean, to tell her story. This was “news to me” I told Lauren, but after a 30 minute conversation with her, I was reassured that our story would be told with heart and utmost compassion. It was! It took three months before our story aired. Lauren and her news director, Grendel Levy, jumped through hoops to get the story on the air. The concern was for DW’s safety. Being in a super conservative state, the station was unsure of the sentiment of the viewers and didn’t want to put my daughter in harm’s way. Eventually though, Lauren and Grendel told our transgender story to viewers, but it was shown just two weeks before the start of DW’s first day in junior high. That fact almost caused me to have them pull the story altogether. DW and I talked about how this might paint her as a target for bullying, but DW was adamant, “I must do this!” So our story was told. It became the 8th most popular story of the year, even in an election year, and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Because of the story,many people reached out to us. what we learned from many of them caused yet an other change for Dw. and I.

 *You can watch my daughter explain her feelings on being a trans teen as only she can here*

We found out that the state of Idaho was one of the 19 or so states that have legal protections for religion, but have no protections for the LGBT community. In this state a person can be fired, evicted or refused services for being LGBT. The ADD THE WORDS campaign organized 10 ten years ago in an effort to get these protections. Trying to get 4 words added to the states human rights act. SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR GENDER IDENTITY are the words that need to be added to get protections for my daughter. When we found out that a house bill HB-2 was given an open hearing Dw. and I jumped at the chance to give are testimony, along with many other people both for and against the bill. When Dw testified Tears filled my eyes as well as the eyes of most of the others in the seats at that hearing. She nailed it. I had to follow her story with my own. I wiped the tears from my eyes, stepped up to the podium and told my story of change to the committee members. I told them that if a man like me can come from burning Barbies to buying bras then certainly a group of highly educated, publicly elected officials should also be able to make a change. I was so wrong, the bill was killed in that committee. I also told them if it did not pas that we would be back and we will.

 

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You can see Dw’s testimony here

Shortly after that the bullying for Dw. increased at school. I thought some thing must be done about that problem as well. My pleas to the school brought little if any change to the bullying. When an other house bill called HB 246 came up for a hearing Dw. and I again jumped at the chance to bring about change. We jumped in to this effort with every thing we had. We rallied, marched and again testified. We stayed on top of it the whole way. I missed many days of work and Dw missed some school as well. I lost my job, her grades suffered. I am proud to say that this bill is on the Governor’s desk. We along with others that fought so hard for it will be in the Governor’s office when he signs it into law some time this week. Change can happen.

One last change I want to tell you about. We fought for the right for my daughter to use the bathroom of her gender identity. I was ready to sue when the school board finally gave in and Dw and I won that fight, but only in one school district. Now is the time when we will fight for that right to be given to all transgender people every where in our nation. Join us, together we can make a change.

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If you would like to help the Trantham’s then please click here