On March 31, 2022 a number of us anonymously held a rally at the University of Texas South Western Medical Center in Dallas to protest the closing of the Children’s GENECIS program that provided health and hormonal care for transgender youth. The closing is well publicized in Texas and nationwide. I spoke at the rally and gave two speeches which I have decided to share here. I had some hesitation, but decided to go ahead. It’s a shame we have to rally for basic health care and I wish politicians would stop trying to be doctors.
Speech 1: Thank you everyone. I am Dr. Renee Baker. I am transgender and use she/her pronouns. I am a licensed prof. counselor in Dallas, Texas. I have served close to 2000 transgender and nonbinary folks, an equal portion of those were youth. I am a former teacher at UTD. I am a former youth social worker at North Texas Youth Connection. And I am a twice board director at Youth First Texas, now part of RCD. I’m also a mom and I’m proud my son Alex is here today!
Okay, let us begin with gender. Gender is a six-letter word. You won’t find it on Wordle.
G E N D E R, yup, six letters. Won’t fit. Only five spaces. It’s like the story of trans – gender. Some things don’t seem to fit. Life is not black or white. And that is okay.
We shouldn’t fear gender. Our gender is our gift. It informs our life – every nook and cranny. It is at our core of being human. If you take away gender, you take away almost everything. You take away every moment. You take away life.
I was born in 1964. A time ripe with civil rights struggle. My struggle was gender. I was teased for the feminine side I related to. I was shy. I didn’t have strength. I didn’t have support. So inside I waited and lost years in personal development. I was lost in a dream of gender instead of living it.
This is why I’m a counselor today. I want to help my transgender family stop the internal suffering of living an internal fantasy, longing for real expression, longing for real relationships. I hope my clients can become present, getting closure on the pain of inauthenticity, and getting over the existential guilt knowing you are not pursuing a meaningful and integral life.
We shouldn’t fear gender. We should embrace the masculine. We should embrace the feminine. And we should embrace the in-between and those that define nonbinary. All the various shades of gender. All should be seen, and all should be visible.
We should celebrate our masculine, feminine and nonbinary sides and allow our gender to flow like a river, out of the closet and down to the sea, merging into a joyful reunion with life itself.
Of course, it takes courage to be ourselves and to break down the gender structures that cause so much pain. Remember, rigidity in life is the cause of pain, it’s the lack of flow and freedom.
We are all here today because of pain. And I think we all know that gender freedom for trans families is gender freedom for all of us.
We should trust our families making the hard decisions for their children. We should trust their providers who are trained in trans care. What about – who we should not trust. Well, we should all know that our government should not be making health care decisions – why? because they are not trained.
At the core of all these political transgender attacks is a lack of belief and miseducation. It’s driven by fear. And the way out is to stop fearing gender.
So let’s believe in our trans kids and their families, let’s believe in their providers & let’s believe in GENECIS. And of course, let’s not fear gender. Chant: Yes we can, believe in Trans
Speech 2: Renee Baker again. There is a story I love that resonates with me. I read it to clients sometimes and keep it on display. In The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco, the wise and old and worn out Skin Horse explains to the young Velveteen Rabbit how a toy becomes real. It goes like this: “Real isn’t how you are made,’ [said the Skin Horse]. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
This is the kind of love and affirmation trans kids need. If they are loved and affirmed, they don’t wither away and die. If they are loved and not dismissed, harm is not done and they thrive.
Let’s continue with the story: The rabbit then asks, “does it hurt becoming real?” Sometimes, said the Skin Horse.
The horse explains becoming real takes a long time and by the time you are real, much of your fur has been loved off.
BUT! BUT! “These things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Remember, if we believe in transgenderism, we can allow our kids to be real. If our kids want one single thing, which is the thing I always wanted, is to be believed.
This affirming care is at the heart of what GENECIS has been providing. When we first met with GENECIS after they opened their clinic in 2015, we were so elated. Finally! Finally! Somebody believed. And lives began to change, kids began to flourish, they became real. No longer told who they were. They were allowed to live and be happy.
So I say, ya’ll. Please. Please. We need the GENECIS program.
The GENECIS program provides loving transgender care. The GENECIS team has been a gift, a divine gift in my mind, one we have been so blessed to have.
And we need it back. Together, we can do great things. And with some love, maybe, just maybe, GENECIS will become real again. Yes, it might hurt a bit to make it real.
So, I am asking each one of you tonight to take one step. To do the right thing. Take a courageous and perhaps risky step.
That step can be of your own choice. Think of it as taking a loving transgender step. You may know it in your heart already. You may know what to do already. You probably do. Sit quietly and ask yourself…what kind of transgender loving care, what kind of TLC, can I provide?
Use that love to bring back GENECIS, to make it real. Chant: Bring back GENECIS, Make it Real.