I want to help grow a community that my transgender son will one day feel 100% safe and accepted in, and know that he belongs there unquestionably.

I network and meet new people all the time, and sometimes those people become real friends and not just acquaintances. I put myself in places and situations I would not normally have a few years ago, and I am becoming a better person because I have done this. I want my children to know they are loved and accepted, and not only by their father and me. I want them to know there are people in their lives and in the community that support them and will be there for them. I want them to know there are other “safe” landing spots for them, if they ever feel they need one.

“I want to help grow a community that my transgender son will one day feel 100% safe and accepted in, and know that he belongs there unquestionably.”

I want to help grow a community that my transgender son will one day feel 100% safe and accepted in, and know that he belongs there unquestionably. I am an extrovert, and this teenaged child of mine is not, he is awkward and shy at times until he steps out of his own mind’s way. He is polite, thoughtful, and caring and yet very self-conscious. When he let’s go of all of that he is funny and interesting. I love seeing him interact with older LGBT folks and try to expose him to many different types of people in hopes that he will one day understand what a helpful experience it was to be able to do such a thing. I have always felt there is a need for wisdom among any group that only comes from age and experience, that elders (and person older than yourself) are vital to a community.

I want to help grow a community that my transgender son will one day feel 100% safe and accepted in, and know that he belongs there unquestionably.

The people that have walked the same path before us can shed light on struggles and answer questions we may feel have no answer. One of the best feelings is when older people tell my son how brave and strong he is for living his truth. He does not fully understand what they mean yet, but one day he will. So many older LGBT people did not have the chance to live their life fully when they were younger due to fears and the treatment they would have received. These very same people tell us we are amazing parents for letting our child just be himself. While I appreciate that and take the compliment, I have to say it he is our kid, it is just what we have to do. Unfortunately, this is not what they experienced and they understand the challenges of not having a supportive family. I do not understand this, and I am glad they can see unconditional love in what we are doing.

“The LGBT community before us has paved the path, and we can never forget or put those people to the side.”

The LGBT community before us has paved the path, and we can never forget or put those people to the side. We need their knowledge, love and strength so that the newer generations can continue to smooth the bumps in the road. I will continue to network, to share our story and meet new people if only for a brief encounter and broaden my own horizons as well as my children’s so they will one day do the same when the time comes.

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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.