Not many parents know how to help children with their transgender identity.
Exploring his own transgender identity for over 20 years and realizing the hard realities associated with those who are wired against the norm has led Aidan Key to create Gender Diversity; an organization providing support, education and training for children and their families undergoing the ups and downs of navigating the transgender identity.
Key talked with HuffPost about how Gender Diversity has grown into an important space for queer kids and families in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.
Gender Diversity even holds an annual conference called Gender Odyssey that brings in gender diverse kids and families from all across the country.
“The first [Gender Odyssey Conference] was in 2001,” Key told HuffPost. “And frankly, my desire to put the conference together was to have these conversations with people and put advice out there to anybody considering doing the same … It was really powerful in that ― two things, you can find some people with shared experience, but also you actually find a whole lot more people with such a distinct ways of coming at it.”
Families come to Key’s safe, informative space to get educated when their children begin expressing desires to live as a gender not assigned to them at birth.
Can you talk a bit about your work surrounding transgender and gender-nonconforming children? Why is supporting that growth and development so important, but also so inherently personal, to you?
Key remembers three families that approached him in the 2004 Gender Odyssey.
“And as the director of the conference, these families, all three of them approached me at different times, some before the conference even started and some during and said, “How do we do this? How do we support our kid? What do we tell them, what do we do?””
He remembers that at the time, he was still trying to tell the ups and downs of his personal story, and found that the best thing for families then and now, was to get educated from multiple sources.
“I wanted this father to understand that he needed to go out and find information and find answers and resources for his family’s journey, his child’s journey. And he needed to have his eyes wide open. And his ears wide open so that if he was being told things that didn’t seem to fit or seemed a little … I don’t know, that just didn’t fit for his experience, his family’s experience, that he needed to be sure to go and talk to a second person and a third person and really to educate himself.”
Read up more on the engaging interview with Key here.