Celebrating “Rebekah Day” & Giving Back
On April 16, we will celebrate what we affectionately named “Rebekah Day”. It will be the second anniversary of Rebekah going out into the world as herself, a girl named Rebekah. Last year I wrote her this letter to celebrate the one year anniversary…. and every word of that still rings true. I will read it to her every year on this special day.
On this anniversary, we want to thank those who have paved the way for Rebekah to be who she is. We are deeply grateful to every transgender person who has come before her, living their truth despite the violence, discrimination and struggle, fighting to be seen and respected in a world that said loudly and clearly “you don’t belong here”. The world was and is wrong. You do belong here, and we are so deeply, deeply glad you’re here. Connecting with this trans community has been the biggest gift we have received. I am not transgender, and yet this community has truly welcomed us as parents with open arms.
The people who have shared their trans identities with us, publicly and personally, help us better understand our daughter — her experience, her challenges, and how we can best support her now and also prepare her for the future. We know that hearing one person’s story is exactly and only that — one person’s story. There is no one-size-fits-all trans experience. But, it has been and continues to be a truly holy experience to share space, in person or online, with people in the trans community who generously and graciously share their stories, share their whole selves with us.
We give thanks to every parent who has supported their transgender child in the truest sense of that word, who has had the difficult conversations with families, schools, and communities, who have fought for their child’s safety and respect. Parents who have shared their families’ stories gave us much needed perspective, affirmation, hope and joy as we navigated our family’s own story.
Finally, we are so thankful for allies and advocates — organizations, community leaders, legislators, school administrators and educators, communities, and families. On every level, from local to global, their work changes the societal landscape for transgender people. These are people who work seemingly tirelessly, although I know many of them are so very tired. They are relentless in this fight for equality, and we are so thankful to know they are fighting for kids like Rebekah along with all trans and gender non-conforming people, especially those who are most vulnerable, whose identities lie at the intersection of more than one oppressed and marginalized community. There is much work to be done.
With that in mind, we’d like to invite you to celebrate with us two years of Rebekah being “Rebekah” by joining us in supporting one of the organizations doing this work. Rebekah thought that each year we could pick a different organization to support, and this year she chose Garden State Equality.
Garden State Equality is working constantly to address the needs of the LGBTQ community in New Jersey, and just last month, their office in Asbury Park was vandalized. New Jersey has been a leader in equality, but there is work to be done. In our current political landscape, our work on a state level matters more than ever. Garden State Equality is working in healthcare, policy, legislation, education, community support, and beyond. They stood with 8 year old Joe Maldonaldo when he was kicked out of Boy Scouts for being transgender and as his family fought to change that. They are working with the community in Egg Harbor Township who is fighting the school board to adopt a policy for transgender students. They are advocating with the New Jersey Department of Education and in the legislative bodies for statewide guidance to be in place to protect transgender students in schools. And on a personal level, they have empowered Rebekah in her advocacy, lifting up her voice, and helping her gain confidence in her trans identity and her strength.
Please consider making a donation, in Rebekah’s honor, to celebrate with us and to support the work of Garden State Equality. No donation is too small, and every bit counts. We thank you for your ongoing support and love. Let’s show Rebekah what she can do with the help of her family, friends, and supporters! www.gardenstateequality.org/Rebekah