The latest episode of Diversity Richmond Speaks follows a bullied transgender male and his mother
Diversity Richmond hosts a monthly talk radio show, “Diversity Richmond Speaks” on WRIR 97.3 with the goal of “addressing the issues, challenges and wins of the local LGBTQ community”.
Their latest installment features Michelle and Xander Chapman, a mother and her transgender son. The episode follows the powerful story of how the two dealt with the son’s transition in a rural area of Virginia.
In the broadcast, we learn about Xander exhibiting “tomboyish” traits from a young age. And from there the story of discovering his gender identity unravels as well as the narrative of how his mother encouraged his individuality and tried to protect him from those who tried to diminish it.
“It was really aggravating when I would get bullied,” Xander said. “I was just trying to live my life and I felt like I was getting constantly criticized and put down.”
The mother would try to talk with school staff on how to end the harassment, but could not without Xander giving up the names of the kids causing him harm. He refused because he was afraid getting them in trouble would further “aggravate the situation”.
“Teachers would say, ‘It’s just kids being kids,’” Michelle said.
The bullying became so intense that Michelle and Xander decided it would be best to homeschool him for a few years.
“In a rural situation if you get targeted [by bullies] it is relentless,” Michelle said.
Xander did not re-enroll in public school until the 10th grade when his family moved to Midlothian. At that time, he was still “reinforcing” the gender identity of female onto himself so he could fit in.
“I never really felt comfortable even though I was trying to push my feminine side,” Xander said. “I never fit in with the other girls.”
He also talks about how he tried dating boys and how that just was not working for him.
From there, Xander continues to discover small pieces of his identity and through the broadcast we relive this unsure yet exciting time in his life where he finally finds a place for himself after years and years of feeling out of place.
You can listen to the entire broadcast below.
You can also listen to past broadcasts of Diversity Richmond Speaks where they have interviewed elders in the LGBTQ community on topics that have affect them as well as the Richmond Triangle Players about the history and future of their organization. Check out our interview with Executive Director and President of Diversity Richmond Bill Harrison on their third radio show back in October about LGBT issues.
“I want to record this before I can’t tell the jokes anymore.”December 7, 2016
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