Colt Keo-Meier says ‘Stacey’s Not a Girl’ was written for himself as a child.
By Sarah Gish
There are many ways to educate people about a misunderstood topic.
When the AIDS epidemic began, public fear was rampant. Then in 1987, artist Niki de Saint Phalle published the children’s book AIDS: You Can’t Catch it Holding Hands, and a clever way to disseminate information was born.
Colt Keo-Meier says he didn’t have the AIDS-education book in mind when he wrote his first children’s book, Stacey’s Not a Girl, but no doubt it will have the same effect: providing a way to discuss an issue with kids while also informing adults.
Keo-Meier, a 33-year-old trans man from Houston, is a medical student at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. With a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Houston, he’s already among the nation’s leading trans health researchers.
Keo-Meier and his spouse, Becca Keo-Meier, along with four others, founded Gender Infinity (GenderInfinity.org) in 2010. The nonprofit group, dedicated to connecting gender-diverse individuals and their families with resources in the South, will host its seventh annual conference at UH this fall.
Stacey’s Not a Girl is dedicated to “all gender-expansive children, no matter how old they are now, and to their families.” However, it is particularly geared toward trans-masculine children who were assigned female at birth and express more masculinity than what is culturally expected.
The book draws on Keo-Meier’s own journey, but also his experiences with trans support groups and gender-expansive patients. Although there are plenty of books addressing trans issues, Stacey’s Not A Girl is believed to be the first produced entirely by trans men. It was illustrated by Jesse Yang and designed by Nine Lam.
Keo-Meier says he wrote Stacey’s Not a Girl for himself as a child. Raised in Beaumont with supportive parents (his father was a psychologist and his mother was an OB/GYN), he felt different from the start, not wanting to present as a girl in any way. He explored a lesbian identity, but it didn’t fit. Finally, in 2006, Keo-Meier saw trans actor Scott Schofield perform a dramatization of his coming out as a lesbian, and then as a trans man. Schofield’s story, which was presented at Rice University, inspired Keo-Meier in a way he hopes Stacey’s story will inspire others.
Stacey’s Not a Girl begins with the main character’s birth and the subsequent gender-identity misunderstandings, told in a heartfelt way. Stacey explores clothes and toys and hairstyles, and finds that separating any of those into “boy” or “girl” categories doesn’t work. There are creative solutions such as altering a school uniform from a girl’s jumper into more gender-neutral overalls. The parents in the story are always loving to Stacey, declaring, “You are our child, we love you very much, and we will always love you, no matter what.”
Stacey attends a conference (which allows Keo-Meier to include a plug for Gender Infinity) where a doctor tells the family that “gender” is how you feel, or see yourself as a boy or a girl, but that many people don’t feel like they fit into one gender. Stacey learns some clever names for various gender possibilities: gender smoothies (a mixture of boy and girl), gender Priuses (half boy and half girl), gender minotaurs (one gender on the top and one gender on the bottom), gender Tootsie Roll pops (one gender on the outside and another gender on the inside), and many others. After walking through fear and dealing with bullies, Stacey decides it’s OK to not know one’s gender, and that it’s more important to “just be a kid.”
Keo-Meier wants to become a doctor similar to the one in his book. As both a psychologist and a family-practice doctor, he hopes to be able to treat people of all ages—managing hormone therapy, pubertal suppression, and pre- and post-operative care.
A tireless advocate for his community, Keo-Meier currently works with individuals and families as a psychologist with expertise in gender and sexuality.
He’s also a public speaker, trainer, and workshop presenter on topics such as “Development of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation,” and “Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth in Schools.”
Keo-Meier was a key figure in the fight for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, and earlier this year he traveled to Austin to testify eloquently against Texas Senate Bill 6, the anti-trans “bathroom bill.”
Colt and Becca Keo-Meier met in 2010 at UH. He says it was a comfortable relationship from the start because they allowed each other the space to be who they are. Becca was inspired to study trans relationships, and became a fierce advocate for trans rights.
Colt asked Becca to marry him with a flashcard that said, “Will you be my person?” The couple spends their downtime watching movies and hanging out with their pets, and they eventually plan to have kids.
Keo-Meier is a devout Christian who has found a church home at Houston’s Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, which is quite different from the Catholic parishes he attended as a child. He says he’s dedicated to serving and caring for God’s trans children of all ages, and that his daily mission is keeping the community alive and safe. It’s an important task, considering that that the suicide rate among trans people is so high.
Keo-Meier encourages everyone to explore their gender journey and, like Stacey, find peace in the unknown if necessary.
“We’re all on a journey. We’re all figuring out who we are,” he says.
This article appeared in the July 2017 issue of OutSmart Magazine.