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Happy Mama Bear’s Day

Time to show some love to the mothers of trans children.

Jeanette Jennings (from left, clockwise), Kimberly Shappley, Rachel Gonzales, DeShanna Neal, Charlize Theron, Cher, and Jodie Patterson.

This month, in addition to me seeing another birthday, we also observe Mother’s Day on May 12.  I’m happy that not only do I still get to celebrate it with my own mother, but I get to celebrate it with a special group of moms that we in the trans community call the Mama Bears.

So what is a Mama Bear? It’s a nickname that the mothers of transgender children bestowed upon themselves. As their trans cubs transition at ever-earlier ages, the Mama Bears fight tooth-and-nail to ensure that their children have as normal a childhood as they can, despite the drama that society stirs up when it comes to trans children.

These moms are called everything but Children of God by evilgelicals, but still they rise.

They unapologetically defend their children against unjust legislation and policies. They advocate for their children’s healthcare. They do education in the media and on college campuses concerning what it’s like to raise a trans child.

And in some cases, they act as mothers for the adult trans people whose biological parents have abandoned them because of their transition.

The Mama Bears range from celebrity moms like Cher, Charlize Theron, and Jeanette Jennings to Kimberly Shappley and Rachel Gonzales here in the Lone Star State.

Cher has made it clear that she despises Trump, and has called him out on Twitter for his anti-trans policies.

Jeanette Jennings has been a role model for many of the Mama Bears since we started following her daughter’s transition journey when Jazz was just four years old.

Charlize Theron is a new member of the Mama Bears club, after recently announcing that her seven-year-old child, Jackson, is trans.

There are also Mama Bears who are quietly going about the business of supporting their children. Some do so via TBLGQ-friendly organizations or organized Mama Bear support groups.

One group of Mama Bears that doesn’t get the recognition they deserve are the mothers of black trans children like DeShanna Neal and Jodie Patterson. Even though they are fierce advocates for their trans kids, they don’t get the media love and attention that their white counterparts get.

Frankly, I’d like to see the black Mama Bears get more media coverage, because it’s past time for my community to see black parents who unconditionally love and support their trans kids instead of kicking them to the curb.

It’s even more important to see that happen in light of the fact that we have a hostile anti-trans federal administration that is doing the bidding of the Family Research Council and evilgelical pastors.

It’s past time for us to show some love to the Mama Bears, and I can’t think of a better opportunity to do so than on Mother’s Day.

Happy Mama Bear’s Day! Thanks for all you do for your trans kids (and in some cases, we adult trans folks) to make the world a better place for all of us.

This article appears in the May 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.


Monica Roberts

Monica Roberts, a native Houstonian, is the founding editor of the GLAAD award-winning blog TransGriot. Her ongoing mission is to educate people on the lives of transgender people and fight for everyone’s human rights.
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