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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

 

I am DW and This is My Story

My name is DW Trantham. In my thirteen years of life, I’ve faced far more adversity than your average teenager because I am transgender.

My story began in Las Vegas where I was born as a “male”. The first three years of my life I spent perfectly happy to play with the vacuum and cuddle with my favorite rainbow blanket my daddy bought me. My parents did not notice the fact that I loved dolls and the color pink. In their minds, I was a baby and my behavior did not warrant any concern.

When I turned three, my parents suffered the loss of my baby brother. Unable to console themselves, they divorced. I moved with my mother to a minute town in Northern Idaho named Mackay. Though I had many family members surrounding me, I missed my daddy tremendously. The first few months living there were terrible. My mother and I did not have the close relationship my daddy and I did. My mother suffered enormously from personal issues and as a result, I was forced to grow up very quickly.
At this stage in my life, I knew nothing of gender identity. I didn’t even know that boys were not allowed to play with Barbies. Eventually, my daddy could no longer bear being away from me and he moved to Idaho. I was elated! He made an effort to resolve things with my mother, but it was not to be. Instead, we chose to focus on building a healthy father/child relationship.

DW TranthamWhen I entered school, I was so innocent in my ways that I believed other girls had the same makeup in their private area. There was nothing about me that thought connected with the boys. It was only when I began to pay attention to the lessons my teacher taught that I realized that there was an enormous difference between “he” and “she”. Because I referred to myself as “she”, I was ridiculed. It wasn’t long before I began to think that the doctor had made a gigantic mistake when I was born. He must have accidentally written boy on my birth certificate instead of girl!

The years fell by and with it, so did I. My mother’s personal problems in addition to my gender confusion caused me to fail in school. The issue of gender was a constant reminder to me and I felt completely out of place. Though I knew I was born a boy, everything in me fought that notion. I tried to act like one – many times, I copied my daddy’s ways hoping I’d pick up on how to be a boy, but it was to no avail.

When my dad moved to New Mexico, it was as if it was the end of the world! I missed my daddy again and could barely stand the person my mother was becoming. Each day grew more and more difficult to deal with and the costume of being a boy began to rub me sore. Relief came in the form of a boy at school. He was cute and I quickly developed a crush on him. My femininity did not seem to bother him and though his father was a policeman and people didn’t allow their children to be friends with him, we formed a tight bond. Eventually, he began spending the night at my house. It was so much fun to have a friend who cared about me! One day, we were jumping about on the trampoline and I felt the urge to tell him that I liked him. I didn’t have to wait long because he said, “I feel something different about you.’. Distracted, I answered “Like what?” and he responded, “I’m not sure, but you’re not like the other boys.’.
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At that moment, I froze. The truth had surfaced and I didn’t know what to say. Quickly, I blurted “That’s because I’m really a girl. My parents wanted a boy when I was born so they dressed me like one.’. To my amazement, he told me that he thought I made a beautiful girl. He went on to be my first secret boyfriend. We lasted one year.

As I began to embrace my femininity, the children in my grades noticed and not much time passed before the bullying began. I was very open about my gender identity and though some were accepting, most were not. At first, it began with name calling. Then it escalated to physical assault which became a daily routine. Though I reported it, the school did nothing. One particular time, after a long day of school, I missed the bus and had to cut through the baseball field. When the teenagers on the baseball team saw me, they caught me, then beat me with their baseball bats. The sexual harassment occurred every single day of my young life. I became so depressed and scared of the daily beatings that I tried to commit suicide.

After a year, I confided in a close friend of my daddy’s that I felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body. I told her I needed help or I would kill myself. She ended up showing me a documentary on transgender children. It changed my life. I knew who I was meant to be and what I had to do. I just didn’t know how to go about doing it.

DW TranthamMy daddy finally moved back to Idaho and I moved back in with him. He knew nothing about how to raise a transgender child. Indeed, he had so many misconceptions about the gay community that it was scary to tell him I was in fact, a girl. It was months before I finally confessed it to him. Understandably, he was shocked and tried to push it all under the rug. He distanced himself from me. With his new job, he traveled a lot and I was forced to stay with his new wife. Cruel and unable to accept my choice, she forced me to act like a boy. Her anger toward me was unforgivable. Deep down, I knew I was a girl and I needed to act as such. I had to be true to myself! But still, I was trapped in the costume of being a boy. It was excruciating.

 

When school began, we were informed that a dress code would be instated. Boys would have to cut their hair short above the collar and would be forced to wear polo shirts with khaki pants. Two weeks before the beginning of school, my step-mother dragged me to the barber shop and cut my long sun-bleached hair off. When I got home, I locked myself in my bedroom and cried for two days, but there was nothing I could do. When school started, people saw me as a boy and treated me as such. However, once they saw my femininity, rumors began to circulate that I was gay. Once again, the bullying started. One boy tried to “cure” me. I thought it might help and attended his church. All it did was beat me into the very depths of hell. There was no “curing” me.

DW TranthamSurprisingly enough, my step-mom finally grew to accept me for who I was. She stuck up for me at my school and did not allow the counselors to try to push me into being a boy. She supported me in that she bought me dresses and makeup. It was nice to be accepted and it helped me tremendously.
It was around the time when my father and step-mom divorced, that he was hurt at a construction job and was given a desk job. During his hours of boredom, he surfed the internet looking to understand his child. In doing so much research, he learned what a transgender person was, how they felt, what they endured. Finally, he began to see what his child had been through. Slowly, we became closer and soon, we were stronger than ever. He told me he loved and accepted me. The relief at being acknowledged as a girl by someone so important to me meant the world to me! With his blessing, I began my outward transition.

My father and mother attempted to renew their old life together and we moved back to Mackay. That summer was one of the best! I was finally transitioned and made friends with a few girls from the neighborhood. I even reconnected with old friends. My daddy gave me the option to be homeschooled, but I wanted to attend school with my friends. Unfortunately, in my complete happiness at being accepted, I did not realize that others would not be as accepting and the harassment immediately began. Even today, I am not comfortable with discussing the abuse I was forced to endure. Not only did the abuse come from the students – it came from the very people I respected: my teachers.

11106304_898545670206321_393235092_nThankfully, Daddy was offered a job in Boise and we moved. My dream was being fulfilled – I could attend school as a girl without anyone knowing my secret! This time it would be different – I would just be me! I was instantly accepted by the students. The principal, counselor and my father discussed my special situation and came to the conclusion that despite accepting me as a girl, I was not allowed to use the girl’s bathroom. Living this lie did nothing to help me feel accepted. It was not me. It was not authentic.

Despite the tragedy I have endured, I will fight rather than allow myself to be railroaded. I decided to contact the local news station and share my story with hopes that I could gain some support. I never would have imagined such support! Not only did they follow through with covering my story, they have been there through my medical transition and supported me with Add the Words. Repeatedly reporting on my updates, they have been a major voice for me. As a result, I have become an advocate for transgender teens. Hundreds of supporters have voiced their concerns and openly accepted me! I am so grateful to them for stepping forward and endorsing me!

dw+1This year, I met a wonderful person who eventually became my boyfriend! A big supporter of transgender teens, he and I are a perfect match. My daddy and Jacob are among my biggest supporters. My journey has been long and it is ongoing, but there is nothing more that I would like to be doing right now. I am woman. I am strong. I am brave. I am DW.