Trans Families

It’s estimated that there are nearly 1.5 million people in the U.S. who identify themselves as transgender. That’s more than a million people with families, communities and stories we are only just starting to hear from. When someone transitions, the impact of that decision ripples beyond them to the people often closest to them: their families. In this hour of radio, we tell stories of trans people and their families at many different moments of life, from childhood to adulthood to elders, as parents, as spouses and as kids, themselves.

Photos/Multimedia

Episode Music

Expand Tracklist

Artist Track
The Foreign Exchange Raw Life
Aaberg, Friesen, and Silverman The Soul in Stained Glass, Largo from Sonata #3 for Violin
Aaberg, Friesen, and Silverman Secret, Wachet Auf, Rut us die Stimme from Cantata #140
Aaberg, Friesen, and Silverman Honesty- Largo, 2nd movement from the Double Concerto
Aaberg, Friesen, and Silverman Air on a Six-String- from Suite No. 3 for Strings
Kaki King Gay Sons of Lesbian Mothers
Soul Position Run
Soul Position Share This
Metronomy Love Letters
Bexar Bexar Princess of Daughters
Bexar Bexar Blue R.O.T.
Bexar Bexar Lascruces
Wendel Patrick Untitled (Fantastic)
Dolly Parton Coat of Many Colors (Instrumental)
Dolly Parton Jolene
Dolly Parton Marry Me
Dolly Parton Little Sparrow
Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, & Edgar Meyer From Ankara to Izmir
Erik Friedlander Yakima
Erik Friedlander Night White
Erik Friedlander Dream Song
Eugene Friesen Night Glider
Eugene Friesen Nuns in Cuba
Bonobo The Fever
Bonobo Terrapin
Bonobo El Toro
The Octopus Project Hold the Ladder
The Octopus Project Bruise
Alt-J Intro
Balmorhea En Route
RJD2 One Day

Dear Gender Letters

  • Joy Ladin

    Dear Gender,

    Since we can’t get away from each other, it’s time we learned to live together.

    You taught me to walk like a man, talk like a man, but you insisted that I actually be a man, dream man and breathe man, fist-bump my manhood in the morning and high-five my manhood at night. I tried to smile for your cameras, but you have cameras everywhere, in lovers’ lips and strangers’ eyes, on airline tickets and bathroom doors, in names and pronouns and marriage vows, staring, recording, measuring the pitch of my voice, the width of waist and hips and shoulders, the cringes and quivers of the soul you drape in binary signifiers.

    You can’t tear your eyes from me. You tell me this is love, but love is not dissection.

    Admit it: you stare because you know, deep down, no one is exactly what you say we are. Tufts of hair burst through estrogen-softened skin, tenderness stains testosterone collars. How can anyone meet your standards day after day, second after second, how can we believe we are what you say we are when we lie alone in the dark, listening to the genderless thumping of our hearts?

    Gender, we never talk about death. I don’t have long, none of us do. I love the secret language we whisper, I love the way your fingers transform they reveal, but I haven’t got time for hiding and lying, I can’t keep cutting off pieces of myself just to make you smile. I want you to hold my hand on the street no matter how strange you think I look. I want you to defend me when I’m taunted; I want you to march beside me in Pride parades until every bit of me is legal.

    Gender, look with me in the mirror: it’s not only me whose changed. You’re aging too, you’re bigger in some places, you’ve thinned in others, we both know how it feels to fear we’ll fade away forever. It’s time to mix compassion with your rage, to forgive us both for failing to be as neat, as symmetrical, as absolute as you claimed. We dwell, our mutual friend once said, in Possibility. You’ve seen what I become through you; now become through me.

  • Helena Bushong

    Dear Defiant Self,

    I am who I am. I live my life authentically. I am not trying to be something or someone that I am NOT. What I am is a person who lived as a male for fifty-seven years, secretly knowing I was in spirit the deepest essence a woman, a powerful woman who shared the truth we all share. Thus, I am blessed with not one but two spirits, both of which I accept, and these two spirits have spent the past sixty-four years navigating through a maze of social ills, dysfunctional families, as well as indifferent governmental institutions and religious institutions that proclaim with conviction that I do not exist. What comes to mind when I hear this “vitriolic message” is Elaine Stritch’s rendition of Steven Sondheim’s song “I’m Still Here.” In her rendition of the song, Elaine proclaims that one should be at least eighty years old to sing this song. Well, Elaine, I have packed a lot of living in my sixty plus years. I don’t need to wait until I am eighty. I have witnessed all my youthful dreams evaporate into an unjust world, and dear, I just kept it moving despite Cancer, Hep. C, HIV, so called mental illness, and lost love, I am still here baby because I live each and every moment, hour, and day authentically. Today the human condition is hostile, angry, violent, and unwilling to negotiate peace. Better to shoot and be done with it. So, to live authentically I appear to some to be an anomaly. My adopted role model Ms. Bette Davis, once wrote in a letter to her fans:

    “I was thought to be “stuck up”. I wasn’t I was just sure of myself. This is and always has been an unforgivable quality to the unsure”.

    Thinking about this statement, I am, as sure, as the plus in my bank account as to who and what my spirit is. I breathe, I cut grass, I cry at weddings, I help seniors when they need help, I walk my buddies(my darling dogs) in the park every day. Sounds familiar? Two- spirited Trans people come in all shapes and backgrounds, some criminals, some saints in the church, some even dare to love and serve those as the spirit directs them, such as you my dear. I borrowed my “moxie” from such ladies as Lena Horne, Bette Davis, Elaine Stritch, and even Joan Rivers. Today, I am who I am: a two-spirited trans presenting female, who dared to care about community and others in a deep and humble manner.

    Helena Bushong


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