iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Joanne Herman

GET UPDATES FROM Joanne Herman
 

A Dad Testifies for His Transgender Teen Daughter

Posted: 04/24/2011 2:46 pm

It's not uncommon to see a mom speaking out for her transgender child, but April 12 saw a dad front and center. The scene was a Maine Judiciary Committee hearing about proposed bill LD 1046, would allow the operator of a restroom or shower facility in that state to decide who can use which gender's restroom based upon "biological sex."

But "biological sex" is not defined in the bill, nor is the method to be used to verify it. In my case, I am generally viewed as female wherever I go, and while I have had genital reconstruction surgery, I still have male chromosomes. Would this bill allow someone who knows my history to insist that I use the men's room?

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Kenneth Fredette, implies that I am not the concern. "What situation do we put young children in when they go into a private place and then what they perceive to be the person of the opposite sex comes into that bathroom? That could be quite shocking."

Yet this conservative dad's daughter looks and acts "all-girl" to those who know her and hardly seems out of place in the girl's room. The problem arose when an adult, who knows the girl's history, forced her school to deny her access to the girls' room.

I had the pleasure of meeting the girl and her family a couple of years ago and have stayed in touch since. After the dad spoke out for his first time publicly at the hearing, he sent me the full text of his testimony (excerpted in the Bangor Daily News article). It's worth a read:

My name is Wayne Maines, I live in Old Town. I have a 13-year-old transgender daughter. In the beginning, I was not onboard with this reality. Like many of you I doubted transgender children could exist, I doubted my wife and I doubted our counselors and doctors. However I never doubted my love for my child. It was only through observing her pain and her suffering and examining my lack of knowledge about these issues did I begin to question my behavior and my conservative values. I learned that the medical standard of care requires parents seek assistance from a panel of experts. We did this and our team of doctors recommended my daughter to live fully as a girl. We cannot turn back now.

When my daughter lost her privileges at school and both children and adults targeted her, I knew I had to change and I have never looked back.

When we moved to Maine, it was clear my daughter was transitioning from male to female with us or without us. She used the girl's bathroom with no fanfare; she was confident and very social. Her strong personality helped the entire school transition right along side of her. She was proud and secure with herself and when people asked at the young age of six she openly stated that she was a girl trapped in a boy's body.

The transformation was amazing, but her happiness would not last. Unfortunately the fears of others would destroy everything that our team of doctors, teachers, school counselors, friends and classmates had work so hard to establish.

I know that it is difficult for some of you to understand the needs of transgender children. You only need to spend some time with these kids to see that they are struggling and suffering beyond your imagination only because they are singled out and misunderstood. They are just like your children and grandchildren; they have the same hopes and the same dreams.

In the fifth grade because of significant negative exposure we had to take drastic measures to protect her from harm, including splitting our family up to go in hiding and we are not the only family that has had to do so. When she was told she could no longer use the appropriate bathroom her confidence and self-esteem took a major hit. Prior to this my daughter often said, "Dad being transgender is no big deal, my friends and I have it under control." I was very proud of her. It was only when adults became involved with their unfounded fears that her world would be turned upside down. "She came to me crying and asked, "Daddy what did I do wrong? Daddy please fix this?" That is what dads do -- we fix things. I had to break her heart and say, "You have not done anything wrong sweetie, but Mommy and I do not know how to fix this, but we will try."

Continuing to single these kids out is not necessary. Having the opportunity to use the bathrooms of their true gender is essential for these kids' well being. This bill places transgender children in a position of doom and hopelessness. This bill tells my daughter that she does not have the same rights as her classmates and reinforces her opinion that she has no future. Help me give her the future she deserves. Do not pass this bill.

Maines tells me, "I am just a dad who wants to protect his daughter and others like her." Sounds a lot like conservative family values at work, doesn't it?

 
 
 

Follow Joanne Herman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joanneherman