But it turned out that Lisa is now a trans-man named Ethan, part-way through his transition. The next day, Ethan contacting me (last paragraph of this post) to have coffee with him. I never did blog about our coffee date but now consider myself to be his supportive friend; we exchange occasional texts and have met once or twice for coffee.
Ethan helped me understand that as a trans-man, he had been "a man, trapped in a woman's body." Growing up, Ethan (as Lisa) assumed that she was a lesbian because she was attracted to women. He explained that gender identity is quite separate from sexual identity and that most trans-men are in fact NOT gay (ie: attracted to men) but are in fact attracted to women. It's complicated!
Transgendered people can face a much harder life than gay or lesbian people and routinely encounter discrimination, harassment and physical abuse. Transgendered people face the likelihood of rejection by their families, employers and the community at large and even from within the LGBTQ community itself.
Trans-man and trans-women in other countries are even killed due to their gender / sexual orientation. Ethan had the firm belief that trans-men have a much harder time being accepted and are at a much higher risk than trans-women.... and I believed him without fully understanding why.
I strongly urge everyone to watch these two CTV news clips about a grade six transgendered boy in Alberta and his incredibly supportive family. It's an inspirational story and one which makes me proud to be a Canadian.
Wren Kauffman's Transformation | CTV Edmonton News (6 minutes)
The day-to-day life of a transgender child outside of home | CTV Edmonton News (4:40 minutes)
If you have 22 minutes to spare, I'd also encourage you to listen to the Kauffman family being interviewed in CBC radio. I got teary-eyed as I listened to it while driving to work last week. As the family disclosed, it was in fact an intervention by Wren's little sister which finally convinced their parents that Wrenna didn't just want to be a boy but he actually was a boy.
ps: By the way, I find Wren's Dad very attractive.