January 29, 2018
The GenNext Giving Circles are an innovative way of giving that allows Ottawa’s young philanthropists to engage with the local issues that matter most to them, decide where their funds are going, and experience the local impact of their gift.
From the day a child is born, one of the first facts that is shared is whether they are a boy or a girl.
But for those who are transgender – the story doesn’t stop there.
Charlie, 10, and Warner, 9, both were both assigned the male gender at birth, but identify as female. They knew from an early age the gender they were assigned didn’t feel right.
“It feels like having an extra arm, having something that’s not supposed to be there,” says Warner.
Both were bullied, and spent some time hiding who they truly were. But today, they are two happy young girls who have an incredible bond of friendship.
The Path to Pride GenNext Giving Circle raises funds for vital local programs that support LGBTQ+ kids, families and seniors, people like Charlie and Warner and their families.
Both families followed different paths to bring them to where they are today.
Charlie’s family moved from a small town to Ottawa in the hopes of finding acceptance.
“We knew we needed a group,” says Anne, Charlie’s mom. “We needed support from our community.”
In 2014, both families started working with Family Services Ottawa, a United Way and GenNext partner agency.
“FSO is the place that gave me friendship. They treat us as if we’re all family, and we know that we all belong,” says Charlie.
A parent’s path to pride
Though they admit the journey to acceptance wasn’t easy, both families stand proud today.
Anne says equity has always been a large part of her life – she’s worked for various community organizations, and today she is a teacher. Though Charlie’s news was difficult news for her to absorb, she quickly made it her mission to be supportive.
Like many, Melissa’s family also faced challenges.
In the early years, their home was filled with boys – Warner has two older brothers and a twin. Warner’s father Elmar struggled to accept that what his daughter was going through wasn’t just a phase.
In our case we hid this side of our lives from our family and friends,” says Melissa, noting that all of that changed when it was time for back to school haircuts one year.
“Over the summer we had let her wear what she wanted, do anything she wanted to do. She flourished in that,” says Melissa.
When Warner refused to cut her hair for back to school, Melissa knew she was at a crossroads: “She was only five, but when she realized that she would have to go back into that box again, she couldn’t face it.”
After seeking support from doctors and local agencies, Elmar was able to see Warner for who she truly was.
“It wasn’t Warner who had to change it was I who needed to learn,” he says. “Warner was our guide on a path to pride. Warner was never my son she was always my daughter.”