GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day where you will see support from some - in politics, entertainment, sports, etc. - for our trans community.
The day was created 12 years ago as a way to shift the focus on our trans family to one of celebration, and not one of being victims of hate or violence.
In thinking about who to talk to, today, my mind immediately went to the Waits family and their trans child, Kit.
Kit was outed by a group of parents on Facebook last fall in Hastings, who wanted to oust Kit's mom from a school board seat.
it was ugly and cruel, forcing the Waits family to move as they feared for Kit's safety, but that is not the end of this story.
When I sat with Chris and Kelsey Waits last year it was four days after their family's story was told to a national audience.
The messages on Facebook were what she couldn't un-see then, which outed her then 8-year-old child, Kit, as transgender. The messages were cruel, intimidating and scary.
"For me looking back, it's a blur," says Kit's mom Kelsey. "In February, I had been diagnosed with PTSD...It had gotten to the point where I couldn't look at photos of the old house, I couldn't go to Hastings to visit friends…just panic and fear related to all of it."
But the pain isn't all that came in these last four months.
"Taking care of other people and being an advocate in this work is also taking care of me, it allows me to work on making things better not just for other people but for my kid," she said.
Last week, on Kit's 9th birthday, Kelsey co-founded and launched the TransParent Alliance, an organization for parents and caregivers of trans and non-binary kids to come and ask questions, get support, or learn in the moment their kid comes out.
Speaking of which, I asked Kelsey what advice she has for just such a moment.
"Love them," she says. "You just love them, every piece of them...That's the most important thing your child needs to know. It's not that you love them in spite of their identity. It's that you love them as a whole person, every ounce, and you always will."
That unconditional love can keep them safe at home.
And that safety can help them navigate a country and a society that isn't always kind to them.
Worrying about that cruelty was what shook Kelsey when Kit came out to her.
"For me, when Kit came out, I cried….and I didn't cry because I was sad that they were transgender, she said. "For me it hurt because I knew what they would be going through and the tears were not for who they were, the tears were for what society was going to put them through."
What a few parents in their former town of Hastings put them through, last year.
But last year is a past year for Kelsey. Last year was the fight for her kids visibility and rights.
This year, it's for all the rest.
"At this point our story is out there. We are out. So if we can use our voices and speak up and push for change it means other people who are not in as safe of a place don't have to, that we can help be that voice for them."
The TransParent Alliance is online now and on social media pages. It's free and has a really quick and easy beginner guide for parents and, really, anyone caring for trans and non-binary children.
You can check it out anytime you need it, here.