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.
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.
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.
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.