Mienna Jones, 44, a childminder from St Albans who has a transgender son, was hurt when headlines hit in September 2017 that a Christian couple had taken their children out of a primary school because a classmate wanted to be recognised as transgender.
“I felt really angry and saddened by the couple’s views,” Jones told HuffPost UK. “So I contacted ‘This Morning’ and went on the next day.
“When I came out of doing that, the support from people in the same situation as me was overwhelming.”
Jones’ seven-year-old son, Dexter, was assigned female at birth and his mum initially called him Talia.
He first started objecting to clothes and toys traditionally thought to be “for girls” at two years old. When he was four, he told his mum: “Mummy, I feel a boy”. At five, he transitioned socially with a new name and his mum said he now “seems so much happier”.
Jones said previously she had never had an urge to speak out about being the parent of a transgender child, but she realised if no one else was going to create awareness of the subject, she would have to do it.
“I was just staggered at how much negativity there was surrounding the topic of transgender children,” she said. “I thought I needed to speak out, be my son’s voice. That was my ethos and the premise of me setting up this group.”
Jones wrote on her local mums’ Facebook group about how she felt and received a lot of comments from other parents of transgender children in her town alone. Despite there being Mermaids, a charity helping transgender children and young people, Jones felt there wasn’t as much support for younger children.
She wanted to meet with the other families to show her son that he is not alone and also learn from other people’s journeys herself.
Jones set up ‘Acceptance’, a Facebook group originally made up of parents of transgender kids in her area, but this has since expanded to include people all over the UK.
The group’s aim is to share stories with one another, support each other and have regular meet-ups. Members also share articles others may find of interest.
Jones wanted to give other parents of transgender children a lifeline and “a hub of positivity and support”. She allows anyone to call her if they want to talk or be listened to, no matter what time of day or night.
The first ‘Acceptance’ meet-up was at the end of 2017. Jones rented out a church hall in London and set up a coffee morning with cakes, coffee, craft activities, games and toys. There were transgender children and teenagers there as well as a few people in their 20s, who came along with their parents.
“It wasn’t information-based, it was just low-key chat,” Jones said. “It was just like meeting up with friends and naturally we ended up talking about our children’s journeys. The children got on and it was lovely to see.
“As a parent, you want to know that you’re helping your child. Parents need a lot of support. I’ve been through the process myself with my son.
“When we were referred to Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic, I felt like I was in limbo. People weren’t willing to give you information and facts and figures and experiences.
“You don’t get the opportunity to meet other parents and ask questions, but with these meet-ups, it will make that possible.”
Jones said the original meet-up was overwhelmingly positive for her son Dexter. He felt comfortable around the other children and it showed him he’s not alone in his experience.
The mum also met a family who she really got on with, as did Dexter. They ended up seeing them again at Christmas time.
“Dexter loved it,” she said. “My son made a real friend. It was really nice for him to see that there are teenagers that are transgender and they are fine and comfortable and cool with themselves.
“It has been a huge help for him.”
Lara Pinder, from London, whose six-year-old son Jay is transgender, is part of the Facebook group. She said she didn’t know of any other transgender children so it has been great for her and her son to get to know Mienna, Dexter, and the other kids in the group.
“I saw Mienna with Dexter on TV advocating for our trans children, and after contacting her, I was added to this wonderful group,” she said.
“I was so happy to hear of another trans child not too far from us, it really was something that was really needed.”
Jones works full-time and runs the group in her spare time. In future, she hopes ‘Acceptance’ will become a charity.
To request to join the group, please visit Acceptance UK on Facebook.
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