Shannon’s daughter can captivate an audience. If that weren’t enough to make a mother proud, consider the subject matter that the 9-year-old shares with college classes and other groups — her experience as a transgender girl.
But her mom has a unique challenge, walking a line between protecting her daughter’s privacy and encouraging her to feel secure in her identity.
“You don’t want her to hide,” Shannon says. “It can be damaging to her spirit, and I never want her to feel any shame. There is nothing to be ashamed about.”
Born a male, Shannon’s daughter has identified as female since age 5 — rejecting her brother’s hand-me-downs and openly telling people that she was a girl. Her mother has been supportive, but knows that transgender youth face a world still catching up to the realities of gender expansive identities.
The biggest issue is adults, Shannon says. Being judged for allowing your child to be who they are can be severe, she says, and parents often feel alone. Having found another Richmond parent in similar circumstances in 2012, the two are working to make it easier for other parents facing the same challenges.