Episode 42

full
Published on:

28th Jun 2022

Sex, Gender, Expression, Orientation & Showing Up for Your Child's Journey // with Elaine Farris

Episode 42 is all about fundamental LGBTQ concepts, and ways we can support our kids and others who may be on their own journey, discovering who they are. Elaine Farris joins host Carmelita (Cat) Tiu and shares:

  • What the definitions are for assigned sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation
  • How these terms relate to one another
  • Why acceptance is not the goal
  • The importance of using pronouns
  • How to support your child while being careful not to push them

Guest Bio:

Elaine is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, whose passion is working with individuals within the LGBTQ+ community, and the neurodivergent community, which often overlap. She works under an intersectional, feminist, and anti-oppressive framework.

Email:  elainefarristherapist@gmail.com

In this episode – references and additional resources:

Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them

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Transcript
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Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host: Welcome to know them.

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Be them, raise them.

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Uh, show to help busy, mindful, and growth oriented moms of

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girls stay informed and inspired.

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Especially through their daughters, tween and teen years.

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So when I was growing up, I didn't know a single gay person, or if I did, I didn't

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know it or they hadn't come out yet.

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If they were one of my peers.

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I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and I lived kind

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of a sheltered existence, but I also think it was the time.

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In the eighties, people weren't really talking about it as

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much as, as far as I knew.

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If I'm remembering correctly.

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I think I was in high school when I first met an openly gay couple.

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And they were visiting town from Chicago.

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Now my daughter's lives look very different.

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One of my daughter's best friends in kindergarten.

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Started the year with a boy's name.

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But midway through.

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Made it clear.

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She identified as a girl and ended the year with a girl's name,

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pigtails and painted nails and all.

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My other daughter was I think in fourth or fifth grade.

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When she came home with a sheet full of colorful flags, she had drawn.

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, Including the gay pride flag.

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The pansexual flag and the bisexual flag.

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And now there are LGBTQ characters on television.

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Often.

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It wasn't something I remember seeing ever.

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Ever as a kid, but my girls celebrate diverse representation.

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I'd say at least once a week on some show they're watching.

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So along with these changes have come new words and terms.

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, I was lucky to learn some of them through diversity initiatives at work.

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But not everyone has that opportunity.

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And frankly, I could learn more.

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Every time I do an interview with a guest I'm reminded of how much, I didn't know.

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I didn't know.

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So my guest today is Elaine Ferris.

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Social change has always been important to Elaine.

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She studied social policy as an undergrad.

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And during that time she became involved with the LGBTQ plus community.

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Eventually identifying within the community herself.

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And exploring her own journey.

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While studying abroad in Amsterdam, she became acutely aware of the

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needs of the transgender community.

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Especially the lack of support.

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Particularly for those in physical transition.

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This inspired her to obtain her master's in social work.

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Focusing on LGBTQ plus individuals.

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Especially transgender persons.

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Today.

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Elaine is a licensed clinical social.

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Uh, worker and psychotherapist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Whose passion is working with individuals within the LGBTQ plus

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community and the neurodivergent community, which often overlap.

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She works under an intersectional feminist and anti-oppressive framework.

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Here's our conversation.

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Welcome Elaine.

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I am eager to have you share your expertise on the LGBTQ community and

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your experiences to help us learn.

Elaine Farris:

Of course, thanks for having me.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So can you explain, assigned sex, gender

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation and how those all

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

interrelate and how they can show up.

Elaine Farris:

Yes, these are all very different terms that have their own unique

Elaine Farris:

meanings that can relate to each other.

Elaine Farris:

So I guess just going through each one, one by one, assigned sex at

Elaine Farris:

birth is relating to what society deems us to be at birth usually

Elaine Farris:

based off of our bodies in genitalia.

Elaine Farris:

It's a pretty narrow understanding of sex, because for example, it's very ignorant

Elaine Farris:

towards the existence of intersex people that might not fall into a category.

Elaine Farris:

Um,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And explain what intersex means.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

If you

Elaine Farris:

yeah, intersex is when a person's genitalia, again,

Elaine Farris:

doesn't fit within the standards of like, oh, this is, you know, a

Elaine Farris:

female body and this is a male body.

Elaine Farris:

There can be a a lot of different like,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Mm.

Elaine Farris:

Even within the category of intersex, it doesn't

Elaine Farris:

usually just mean one thing.

Elaine Farris:

Like it can mean a lot of different things, whether it's, how a person

Elaine Farris:

might look or, you know, chromosomally.

Elaine Farris:

And unfortunately in the past society and hospitals have been so adamant

Elaine Farris:

about putting people into a category

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

mm-hmm

Elaine Farris:

that they have really encouraged, or maybe not

Elaine Farris:

even told parents that it was a possibility not to do surgery.

Elaine Farris:

Uh, yes.

Elaine Farris:

So they would say you have to choose, do you want your baby to be a, a male

Elaine Farris:

or a female, and then we'll do surgery so that they fit into this category,

Elaine Farris:

even if it's completely unnecessary.

Elaine Farris:

And most of the time it is unnecessary, actually.

Elaine Farris:

So that's how, how much our society cares about gender norms and fitting into.

Elaine Farris:

and a lot of the times it's, very traumatic because many intersects

Elaine Farris:

people might grow up later in life.

Elaine Farris:

Not even knowing that they're intersex and they might start, exploring their own

Elaine Farris:

gender and their own bodies and realizing that, they themselves might identify

Elaine Farris:

as trans and you know, they might have to get like corrective surgery or, they

Elaine Farris:

might transition and, maybe the surgery at birth made it a lot more difficult

Elaine Farris:

for them to transition or, again like the not understanding and not even really

Elaine Farris:

being informed about yourself and just the trauma that can cause is something

Elaine Farris:

that is, I think not talked about enough.

Elaine Farris:

And I think it's hopefully shifting more towards you know, parents

Elaine Farris:

not necessarily being encouraged or forced to choose at birth.

Elaine Farris:

But I, it definitely still happens and there's still a huge lack of

Elaine Farris:

understanding of what don't fit, you know, within the categories that,

Elaine Farris:

that society deems to be reasonable.

Elaine Farris:

But yeah, sex in general is still, is considered to be related to like

Elaine Farris:

what a person's body looks like.

Elaine Farris:

Which is just very, very outdated or, or the chromosomes, which again,

Elaine Farris:

like, even with intersex people in existence, like you would think

Elaine Farris:

that people would understand that that doesn't work for everybody.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Mmm.

Elaine Farris:

not so cotton dry, but there are a lot of people out

Elaine Farris:

there who are very internalized, uh, these gender norms.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

right.

Elaine Farris:

Mm-hmm

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And then gender identity is how a person sees themself.

Elaine Farris:

exactly.

Elaine Farris:

It's how they identify their gender.

Elaine Farris:

And so that can.

Elaine Farris:

I wanted to say like correlate or not correlate with gender expression.

Elaine Farris:

I struggle to use that word because , what is a correlation?

Elaine Farris:

Right?

Elaine Farris:

Somebody decided in our society that girls wear dresses.

Elaine Farris:

So you would think like, oh, well, a girl correlates with a dress.

Elaine Farris:

Pink with girls, you know, all these gender norms are just literally made up.

Elaine Farris:

So gender expression though, is, is how a person expresses their gender.

Elaine Farris:

And this is often through clothes and presentation and, and some of it

Elaine Farris:

might fall within, what is societal norms, like, a person who might

Elaine Farris:

identify as a trans girl or trans woman might, want to wear dresses

Elaine Farris:

or, be seen as more feminine.

Elaine Farris:

But it is interesting to consider, how much of this is societal standards and how

Elaine Farris:

much of it is, the gender identity and expression that you're wanting to portray.

Elaine Farris:

, it's, uh, kind of complicated because from the moment we're born, we're

Elaine Farris:

internalizing these ideas of feminism and masculinity and, what that means to us.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Mm-hmm okay.

Elaine Farris:

Sexual orientation, I think is actually the most

Elaine Farris:

unrelated to the other terms.

Elaine Farris:

because it doesn't have anything to do with sex or gender at all.

Elaine Farris:

It's who you're attracted to.

Elaine Farris:

Even beyond sexual orientation, there are, different categories

Elaine Farris:

of attraction within that.

Elaine Farris:

So there's emotional attraction, physical attraction.

Elaine Farris:

Sexual attraction and romantic attraction and all of that can be very different.

Elaine Farris:

You know, there's people who are aromantic, who are asexual, there's

Elaine Farris:

a lot of different terms out there.

Elaine Farris:

You know, some people really like the labels, some people don't like the labels.

Elaine Farris:

It's whatever works for a person.

Elaine Farris:

For example, there are some people who really might be able to feel

Elaine Farris:

sexual attraction, but not romantic attraction or, you know, vice versa,

Elaine Farris:

maybe really can feel the romantic attraction towards a person, an emotional

Elaine Farris:

connection, but, maybe they're just not sexually attracted to individuals.

Elaine Farris:

And so there there's a lot of nuance within that as well.

. Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I love that you sort of nonchalantly said that sexual

. Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

orientation is a separate thing from, from the gender discussion, because I

. Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

think people assume you born with male body parts, then you're a man and you

. Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

should be attracted to women, you know?

. Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So I, appreciate, and I'm grateful for that mindset of these are distinct things.

Elaine Farris:

And you know, I do understand that it can

Elaine Farris:

be a little bit confusing.

Elaine Farris:

For example, people who might have like, no.

Elaine Farris:

Idea about any of this stuff, you know, when you hear oh, LGBTQ, like, you

Elaine Farris:

know, I think that, course there's a lot of discourse in regards to grouping

Elaine Farris:

everybody together because there are differences in these experiences,

Elaine Farris:

particularly with the trans community.

Elaine Farris:

In the past, unfortunately, there's been a lot of discrimination in currently, too.

Elaine Farris:

There's been a lot of discrimination towards the trans community.

Elaine Farris:

Even within the queer community as a whole.

Elaine Farris:

So like L G B uh, individuals, or, you know, just beyond, in regards

Elaine Farris:

to sexual orientation or attract have been very discriminatory

Elaine Farris:

towards transgender individuals.

Elaine Farris:

So I think it just goes to show that they are very different topics

Elaine Farris:

and these communities do experience different types of discrimination.

Elaine Farris:

We know that, trans individuals, especially trans women, especially

Elaine Farris:

black and brown trans women have a lot of you know, safety issues that they

Elaine Farris:

have to deal with that, for example, white gay men do not have to deal with.

Elaine Farris:

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host: Mm mm-hmm . Mm, mm.

Elaine Farris:

Yeah.

Elaine Farris:

It's not just these terms that are very different.

Elaine Farris:

It's these people's experiences that are very different as well,

Elaine Farris:

that we have to take into account.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Right.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And, the goal ultimately is, in my mind, acceptance of whoever, regardless of what

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

you may have been born with, whatever you identify with, and however you choose

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

to express yourself and however, and whoever you choose to love, is okay,

Elaine Farris:

I think celebration is, is ideal.

Elaine Farris:

you know, I think acceptance is, oh, okay.

Elaine Farris:

I'll I guess I'll accept that.

Elaine Farris:

Like, it's kinda like this under like, oh, accept that.

Elaine Farris:

Um, versus like, I think celebration and validation can kind of give

Elaine Farris:

a different feel towards that.

Elaine Farris:

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host: that absolutely.

Elaine Farris:

No, that's a very good point.

Elaine Farris:

And it, reminds me a little bit.

Elaine Farris:

And I don't mean to conflate two very, different issues, but the sense of

Elaine Farris:

activism around the black lives matter movement and being anti-racist and how,

Elaine Farris:

it's not enough to say you're not racist or to operate or function in your own

Elaine Farris:

tiny little world, as someone that thinks you're not racist, you have to do more.

Elaine Farris:

You have to proactively do something to help dismantle our

Elaine Farris:

systemically racist structures.

Elaine Farris:

Yeah.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

That's kind of what struck me about your

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

use of the word celebrate, like do more than just accept or tolerate?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Right.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So thank you for saying that,

Elaine Farris:

And you know, if you're just kind of going along with

Elaine Farris:

the norm, then unfortunately you're contributing to oppressive structures

Elaine Farris:

that have been place for so long, because if we don't do anything, then

Elaine Farris:

they're just gonna be there forever.

Elaine Farris:

You gotta, You gotta very purposefully, you know, challenge that and go

Elaine Farris:

against it in order to create change.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And one small thing, maybe it's not so small,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

but one thing that felt kind of easy I think for some people to start doing

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

is in their email signatures or on their zoom cameras, adding pronouns.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

What do you think the importance of using pronouns is?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And if there's anyone who's skeptical about how or why it's important

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

what would you like to tell.

Elaine Farris:

It's incredibly important.

Elaine Farris:

If, if a person cares.

Elaine Farris:

And I say that because there are some people out there who might not feel

Elaine Farris:

like their pronouns are that important.

Elaine Farris:

I've worked with clients before who have said, oh yeah, like,

Elaine Farris:

it's not as big of a deal to me.

Elaine Farris:

And it's always important to recognize that there are those experiences as well.

Elaine Farris:

But on the flip side, there are also people who are very, very adamant

Elaine Farris:

about pronouns and, and it can really affect their mental health when you

Elaine Farris:

use them correctly or incorrectly,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Hm.

Elaine Farris:

Most of the time, if you're using them incorrectly, of course, that

Elaine Farris:

really can cause distress but I actually just looked up some statistics , that are

Elaine Farris:

recent from the Trevor project, because I think that these statistics can kind

Elaine Farris:

of emphasize why support is so important.

Elaine Farris:

So, a 2022 national survey on LGBTQ youth, mental health found that 45%

Elaine Farris:

of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past

Elaine Farris:

year, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth.

Elaine Farris:

So when you look at those numbers, it is literally life or death for, a lot

Elaine Farris:

of these individuals, especially young people because you know, young people are,

Elaine Farris:

are in the most vulnerable positions.

Elaine Farris:

And parental support is one of the biggest factors in helping prevent suicide in

Elaine Farris:

helping to stabilize mental health.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Mm,

Elaine Farris:

And, it's a pronoun, like is it really that big of a deal

Elaine Farris:

for you to, you know, try to change, maybe the name, try to do your

Elaine Farris:

best , you know, and the thing is , I think it's important to be realistic

Elaine Farris:

and it's understandable that it takes time to like, change your language.

Elaine Farris:

You might make some mistakes, but I've talked to so many people before

Elaine Farris:

who say that it is very easy to tell when you're actually trying.

Elaine Farris:

So most trans people can tell when you're putting in an effort to making that

Elaine Farris:

change, even if you stumble, you know, even if you're like, oh, like, sorry,

Elaine Farris:

you know, use the wrong pronoun there.

Elaine Farris:

Correct yourself and move on.

Elaine Farris:

Don't make it a big deal.

Elaine Farris:

I would say too, that that's another thing that, we tend to talk about a lot.

Elaine Farris:

It's uh, kind of overwhelming when, you know, you profusely apologize,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Mm,

Elaine Farris:

you know, the trans person feels like they have to make you feel

Elaine Farris:

better And they're just like, okay, like, can you just apologize and fix it and

Elaine Farris:

then move on and do better in the future.

Elaine Farris:

You know, like it's not about you.

Elaine Farris:

It's, it's about, this person who's going through a lot

Elaine Farris:

and just looking for support.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Those are super helpful tips because I'm sure

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

there are people who are reluctant or worried they're gonna mess up.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And so talking through like, don't make it a big deal.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Just fix it and move forward, you know?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

That's helpful to know, like there's no, scripted apology

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

that you have to have memorized in your back pocket if you mess up.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And like you said, I think in so many situations and I feel this way

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

generally about parenting, but it's the effort you're putting in that can carry

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

so much weight, like mess up or not.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

If you're trying that goes so far.

Elaine Farris:

And, practice too.

Elaine Farris:

practice saying their new name in, in a sentence, practice, their new pronoun and,

Elaine Farris:

you know, use it around other people too.

Elaine Farris:

Cuz I think that you know, people notice like, you know, okay, maybe you

Elaine Farris:

only try when you're like with me, but then when you're talking to a family

Elaine Farris:

member, you're talking to somebody else, then you go back and you revert.

Elaine Farris:

And it's a different story if this person isn't out yet.

Elaine Farris:

And maybe, , switching is necessary in order to respect that that

Elaine Farris:

person hasn't come out yet.

Elaine Farris:

But if a person is wanting you to use those pronouns permanently,

Elaine Farris:

then use them in any context.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Mm.

Elaine Farris:

Again, that can really, really affect a person's mental health.

Elaine Farris:

And it's just one small way of showing support.

Elaine Farris:

I would say bare minimum.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

You know, it feels like over the last 10, 20 years,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

you know, there's been a collective, increase of an awareness around

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

transgender issues and LGBTQ issues.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So I think a question that comes up is, is this us noticing it more and being more

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

aware of it or are kids are young peoples experimenting more or becoming quote

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

unquote confused, which kind of ties into the, don't say gay legislation in Florida.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So in your opinion, I guess, does our talking about it more what impact do

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

you really think it has on young people?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And, you know, because there must be a range of normal for

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

this and quote, unquote normal.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I don't think that kids are thinking that looks fun and I'm gonna

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

do this, you know what I mean?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Especially when there are social implications to their decisions.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And so, yeah, I'm curious what your thoughts are on all this.

Elaine Farris:

Yes.

Elaine Farris:

I mean, I think it's all normal to explore.

Elaine Farris:

And it's not that it wasn't happening decades or even centuries ago.

Elaine Farris:

It's just that it wasn't talked about or people didn't have

Elaine Farris:

the language and nowadays

Elaine Farris:

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host: and repressed, right?

Elaine Farris:

Yeah.

Elaine Farris:

absolutely.

Elaine Farris:

Yes.

Elaine Farris:

And, and so nowadays, although the internet can be a very toxic place, I

Elaine Farris:

think that there's a lot of benefits in finding language, realizing that

Elaine Farris:

you're not alone, finding support , a lot of people within the community,

Elaine Farris:

you know, their initial support or even just general support is online.

Elaine Farris:

And so that makes all the difference.

Elaine Farris:

And yeah, I think it's so normal for young people to explore their identities and.

Elaine Farris:

Even beyond gender, right?

Elaine Farris:

Like we know that it's pretty normal for a child to just like,

Elaine Farris:

be figuring themselves out.

Elaine Farris:

And so this is bound to come up regardless of whether or not you're talking about it.

Elaine Farris:

The only difference is if you're not talking about it, what that

Elaine Farris:

is showing them is that there's something to be ashamed about.

Elaine Farris:

There's something wrong here, which can negatively affect their mental health.

Elaine Farris:

So talking about.

Elaine Farris:

Topics and normalizing, it doesn't mean that you're encouraging it.

Elaine Farris:

It just means that you're informing them and then they can

Elaine Farris:

kind of explore on their own.

Elaine Farris:

And a lot of the times they, they might just be exploring . like

Elaine Farris:

very, very young children, especially, that is super normal.

Elaine Farris:

You know, there are some kids who are like five, six who might explore

Elaine Farris:

gender expressions or, gender identity and I don't know a little

Elaine Farris:

girl, for example, like chop off all her hair and be a tomboy.

Elaine Farris:

I would say, as a child gets a little bit older, you know, maybe into their

Elaine Farris:

teens, if they're still exploring, then it might be more of a certainty.

Elaine Farris:

It depends on how, how they're going about it.

Elaine Farris:

And, how it is for them.

Elaine Farris:

Like the more adamant a child is, I would say the more potential likelihood

Elaine Farris:

that this is a real thing for them that will last beyond childhood.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And I heard you encourage like a, an atmosphere of

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

openness, I think what you said was, if you are not talking about certain things,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

then you're implying that this is not something that is okay to talk about.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And so that can leave a sense of shame and insecurity around that particular topic.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So things like support, openness, um, and meeting them where they're at?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

It also applies okay.

Elaine Farris:

just about to go there in.

Elaine Farris:

In saying that sometimes the parents might be over eager in

Elaine Farris:

supporting their child.

Elaine Farris:

Like it's, maybe more rare than, than the other, but sometimes parents

Elaine Farris:

might be too gung ho and they're like, oh my gosh, like, do you want

Elaine Farris:

me to like, buy these clothes for you?

Elaine Farris:

Or do you, wanna do, do you wanna go hormone?

Elaine Farris:

Do we need to do that then?

Elaine Farris:

Do you want me get a new therapist?

Elaine Farris:

Da, da.

Elaine Farris:

And um, I think when we say meet your child where they're at.

Elaine Farris:

It means both, right?

Elaine Farris:

The balance of like, yes, listen to where they're at, but also maybe

Elaine Farris:

don't push them in any direction.

Elaine Farris:

Because especially with the discourse nowadays, a lot of people, know

Elaine Farris:

more about the existence of LGBTQ identities and especially,

Elaine Farris:

you know, trans, uh, children.

Elaine Farris:

And so they might think, oh, the moment a child starts questioning, that means

Elaine Farris:

that they're trans and that, you know, you should just go all in and start buying

Elaine Farris:

them new clothes and, and all that stuff.

Elaine Farris:

And that is definitely, not appropriate.

Elaine Farris:

Because it might not be where your kid's at yet and gonna go get there eventually,

Elaine Farris:

who knows, but also maybe they'll totally pivot and go somewhere else.

Elaine Farris:

So we wanna actually listen to them in the moment of like, okay, like what's,

Elaine Farris:

you know, what's going on right now?

Elaine Farris:

Like, what are you thinking?

Elaine Farris:

And, and what are they needing right in this moment that we know of, for sure.

Elaine Farris:

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host: Ah, that's so good.

Elaine Farris:

I think parents, myself included or anyone we crave certainty, right?

Elaine Farris:

there's so much relief in knowing that something has been decided on

Elaine Farris:

and you can head in that direction.

Elaine Farris:

, so yeah, I, that's a very good point., wanting to be certain, regardless

Elaine Farris:

of what that outcome is, can also be very, you know, potentially

Elaine Farris:

limiting and daunting for a kid.

Elaine Farris:

Huh?

Elaine Farris:

Definitely.

Elaine Farris:

And you know, this is a process I think all of us are trying to figure

Elaine Farris:

out our ourselves and our identities throughout life, to be honest.

Elaine Farris:

Working with individuals themselves who are transitioning there, there

Elaine Farris:

is often this desire to be like, okay, know, I wanna be at the end

Elaine Farris:

of my transition and I wanna be done

Elaine Farris:

and obviously that's valid to be feeling that that way.

Elaine Farris:

And a lot of it has to do with societal discrimination and

Elaine Farris:

oppression that they're going,

Elaine Farris:

you know, when are you really done?

Elaine Farris:

Because it is just like a lifelong process of, knowing yourself and growing.

Elaine Farris:

And, you know, even at 30 years old, you might think something about yourself and

Elaine Farris:

be quite certain, then 10 years later, that might not be the case anymore.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Is there a, parting thought you'd like to leave on

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

this topic with the listeners nurse?

Elaine Farris:

I can understand why parents might want their kids

Elaine Farris:

to fit in and not be bullied and, to not experience discrimination.

Elaine Farris:

Um, but again, it's about, I think meeting your kid where they're at and,

Elaine Farris:

maybe that's not what they're wanting.

Elaine Farris:

, and so it's, just not making assumptions and, recognizing that your experience is

Elaine Farris:

different from your children's experience and , it's okay that it's different.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I'm so grateful for my time with Elaine.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Here were my top takeaways from this episode.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Number one, the reference to one sex.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Assigned sex, biological sex or sex assigned at birth.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Means typically what society deems as male or female based on the biological

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

characteristics, a person is born with.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Like your genitalia.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Gender identity.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Stems from one's deeply held feelings about whether they are

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

male, female, both or neither.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And this could be fluid.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Gender expression is how someone expresses their gender typically by their clothes.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Um, the hair, makeup, body language, and voice.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Um, also a person's name and pronoun are common ways of expressing gender.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And sexual orientation is.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Put simply who someone is attracted to.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Number two.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

According to the Trevor project, 2022 national survey.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

On LGBTQ youth, 45% of LGBTQ youth, seriously considered

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

attempting suicide in the past year.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

This means that our ability to sport kids.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And talk about issues can literally be a life or death situation.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And parental support is a huge component.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

In the success and health and wellbeing.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

of young people.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Number three.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Pronouns make space for transgender and gender non-binary people.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Use of inaccurate pronouns can have a negative effect on mental health.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So do try.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And if you make a mistake, simply apologize and move on.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Over apologizing can place a burden on the transgender individual.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Uh, and then they feel like they have to take care of your feelings, which is

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

something we're trying to avoid Lloyd.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Number four.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I remember that it's normal for kids to explore.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Whether it's their gender identity.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Gender expression, et cetera.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I try to create a safe space and have open conversations

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

with them about their feelings.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Number five.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

If you're not talking about certain things, then you're implying that those

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

topics are not okay to talk about.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And that can lead to feelings of shame and disconnect.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And number six while support is a good thing.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Be mindful of your reactions and try not to show any biases

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

that might pressure your kid.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

One way or the other.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Meet your child where they're at.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

If you'd like to connect with Elaine, check the show notes

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

for her contact information.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I know I say this at the end of every show, but I 100% sincerely mean it.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

When I say thank you for listening.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I'm so grateful for you.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

, knowing that someone's listening helps fuel my desire to make more

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

of these episodes and hopefully provide content that's meaningful

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

and important and engaging to you.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Remember to subscribe, tell a friend and leave a review and here's to strong women.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

May we know them?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

May we be them?

Show artwork for Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them

About the Podcast

Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them
Helping moms be & raise strong women
Are you a growth-oriented, mindful and busy #girlmom who wants to raise strong daughters? Me too! This is a show for us -- moms who want to show up with intention, impact and grace, for ourselves and our daughters.


Each episode tackles timely (and sometimes tough) topics, to inform and inspire moms of girls: boundaries, self-care, creating safe spaces, self confidence, intuition, negative patterns, body positivity. I also tackle issues confronting tween/teen girls today, like drops in self-esteem, friendship challenges, peer pressure, consent/dating, body image, gender stereotypes, stress, and more.


Tune in weekly for short episodes (under 25 minutes) filled with inspiration, insights and actionable tips from experts, moms who’ve been there, and host Carmelita Tiu (a mom of two girls herself).


Visit www.knowberaisethem.com and follow @knowberaisethem on Instagram for more info.


And here’s to strong women -- may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them.

About your host

Profile picture for Carmelita Tiu

Carmelita Tiu

Service, creativity, and human potential -- these things inspire Carmelita Tiu as an attorney, podcaster, creative, educator and parent. After receiving her art degree and law degree, she worked as an attorney at The Oprah Winfrey Show and OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network for several years, then pivoted to the design and advertising world. She's also held adjunct professorships at DePaul University and Columbia College Chicago, and served on the boards of numerous cultural and community service organizations.

As a curious and committed mom to two daughters, Carmelita recently launched the podcast, "Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them," a show that informs and inspires mindful and growth-oriented moms of girls -- so they can show up for themselves and their daughters the way they want to. "Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them" is on all the major podcast platforms, or head to knowberaisethem.com.

Though she's based in Chicago, she's currently looping around the U.S. with her family for the 2021-22 school year -- a bucket list dive into memory-making, hyperfocusing on the family, and pouring into passion projects.