Advocate-Activist-Ally - Melissa Ballard - Trans Families - Transgender Universe
Photo: vox.com

How do you become an activist amongst or for any particular group? I once read an article about parents of transgender kids that said parents often become “accidental activists”. I have to say this is somewhat true! I mean I am a pretty passionate person anyway and will be pretty outspoken when it comes to something I believe in, but when it is something or someone I love?

“I have to be an activist for my child. If I am not their biggest supporter, who will be?”

I have to be an activist for my child. If I am not their biggest supporter, who will be? As a parent my immediate reaction to my child coming out as transgender was somewhat surprise, and then once acceptance came along I began my research. I wanted to know more about the people in the community and what struggles they faced as well as what my son would potentially deal with directly.

I read medical info, and looked into community resources for him and our entire family. Fortunately we live in a large metropolitan area, but even in such a large area like Dallas it is shocking how much infrastructure is lacking for the transgender community. Of course this is when I felt I had to do more.

Advocate-Activist-Ally - Trans Families - Transgender Universe

Creating a website for a new local support group was one initial step. I made business cards to hand out to interested parties when opportunities arose. Around the same time we had started our local group we started meeting with civil rights groups such as HRC or the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Equality Texas. Our group wanted to learn and absorb more and speak out when necessary in a way that would convey our message properly.

“We need allies and support and this is not an easy task in the Bible belt or the south.”

Our own state of Texas is currently trying to take away all basic human rights of transgender people starting with the bathroom. What I do not understand is how a state thinks this is how another human being should be treated. We as parents have to be vigilant on trying to end these types of laws and decisions that affect the transgender community. We need allies and support and this is not an easy task in the Bible belt or the south. The Trans community needs positive visibility and a voice against the hate and violence they see daily.

Advocate-Activist-Ally - Melissa Ballard - Transgender UniverseThe LGB community has seen positive changes over the past 20 years like marriage equality, but the Trans community has to fight for the right to use the bathroom of their choice. I hope that our growing group will make some change for the transgender community across the board and not just for our children. Working closely with lobbyist groups that help affect change in government, civil rights groups that assist in litigation as well as the media, we hope to create change that will be good for the entire LGBT community. If you want to become and ally and be vocal for any marginalized group you have to speak up. Silence is not how movements and change are made.

If you have a desire, reach out to the local government representatives and let them know you support Trans rights. Write them person letters sharing stories or go meet them in person. Donate money to reputable groups doing the work that most people do not understand or know that is going on behind the scenes. Most of all, show support and make safe spaces visible and if you feel anyone is being discriminated against, stand up for them! You may gain an ally that becomes a great friend and that is a great asset to have – a supportive friend!

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Melissa Ballard is a native Texan with a wonderful husband, Ken, transgender teenaged son, Ashur, and a quirky daughter named Kennedy. When not struggling with multiple sclerosis or chasing her husband while cycling for Bike MS, she is advocating for trans kids and their rights. In early 2015 a group was formed as a social connection for local transgender kids and their families and soon after www.dfwtkf.com was born. In just under a year, the social group has grown to more than 100 active members including parents and siblings of trans and gender non-conforming kids. Speaking to others and letting them know they are not alone is one of her greatest goals and will continue to be a focus in the future.