Friday Fodder: I See A Need Edition

FeetOkay, I’m thinking out loud here.  I see a need.  I’ve seen it for more than a year now.  I’m often contacted by adults raising a gender creative child who are looking for other gender creative families to playdate with. 

I’ve managed to connect a few and that has felt awesome.  We love our gender nonconforming playgroup and it’s so important that C.J. be able to play with other boys who like to do nails and put on fashion shows.  I’m sad when I think about gender creative kids who have never met or played with another gender creative kid.  That sucks.  And, parents and siblings benefit from our playgroup too.  It’s a win-win dressed in pink and dipped in rhinestones.

photo-37In the past, when a family has contacted me asking if I know of anybody in their area to meet up with, I put a call out on my blog and social media.  (Are you following me on Facebook and Twitter?  You should be.  You’re missing important posts like this and thoughts from C.J.).  Sometimes my calls are answered by families close to the original family.  I get permission from both families to share their email address and first name and, then, I make a e-introduction and tell them to have fun, respect each other’s anonymity and let me know how things go.

I’ve done this for families in:

  • California
  • Canada
  • Georgia
  • Hong Kong
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Philadelphia
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Washington

I’m getting more of these requests and I want to help.  But, how do I do it?  The same way I have been?  Set up a separate page on this site?  How much work and liability do I assume?  How do I manage something that could take on a life of its own?  Do you know of anybody already providing this service who I can point interested parties to?

I see a void and want to fill it, but how?  Your suggestions are greatly appreciated.

About raisingmyrainbow

RaisingMyRainbow.com is a blog about the adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son.
This entry was posted in All Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Friday Fodder: I See A Need Edition

  1. Rudy says:

    I would love to help. I am in Georgia (Cobb and Atlanta Area). I think this a great idea and I would love to help. I have worked with a lot of gender non conforming teens and I would love to be a part of such a wonderful movement in Atlanta,Ga. I would like to be liaison to help you connect other families. I have a son 5 and a daughter 6 and I think we need more colorful open minded play groups even for the heteronormative parent. Let me know if there is anything I can do.

  2. Nicola says:

    I have a gender creative 8 year old son in Vancouver, BC, Canada. My husband and I feel so strongly that it would be benefit him that have male friends who share his interests (Monster High, barbies, fashion, littlest pet shop etc). We tried looking for families on Craigslist to start a playgroup but had no takers. If anyone out there is in the Vancouver area and has a gender creative son, we would love to hear from you!

  3. Nancy says:

    Some great ideas here. I would love a pal for my son, who is older. I do want to remind people, as a mom of three sons, that nearly ALL children play with boy/ girl toys until age four. I’d have them just play with their neighbors and fellow preschoolers of any gender at all, and only seek out gender variant buddies for play dates AFTER FOUR.

    Also, I do think the direction of life will be very different for trans kids vs kids who may be gay. So in order to find maybe a lifelong buddy going in the same direction, it would be cool to meet up with kids who identify as the same gender. Like my son has always identified as boy, like CJ, but wants to choose and do things that traditionally appeal to girls. I am thinking since he feels “boy” and identifies only as “boy,” he’d like a friend who feels the same, but who would love to play with another boy like himself without having to hide parts of himself. And probably a child who identifies deeply as the other gender would adore knowing he isn’t alone – his new friend has been feeling the same exact way!

    I’m in SoCal and my boy is 11 but small and less mature, so anyone from 8-11 would do well for him, if you are out there!

  4. Betsy Brass says:

    We are in Connecticut and would love to meet other gender creative boy!

  5. polyglotsara says:

    My suggestion would be either: 1) Set up a closed Meetup in areas where you have already been contacted by more than one person; 2) set up a closed (invitation-only) Facebook group where people can make their own connections. I hope this helps.

  6. A.J.'s Mom says:

    I am so excited that I found this blog. My 4 year old son loves pink and wears my high heels through the house all the time! He loves dress up as well. I would love to speak with and meet another family dealing with this in southeast Michigan.

  7. Glenn says:

    We’d love for our 4-year old in Pasadena, California, to have some opportunities to make friends with other boys who enjoy girl clothes, painted nails, or tea parties with fairies – or trains, bulldozers, and loud screaming.

  8. zev says:

    ooh, and if someone were to put together a site for connecting gender-nonconforming kiddos, then we LGBTQ childcare providers/nannys/sitters could make connections there as well. (i’m in nyc, by the way)

  9. Rachel says:

    I would love to connect with others in Wisconsin. I belong to some parent support groups, but all the kid stuff is geared towards middle school and older. I wish, wish, wish I could find 6 year-olds for a playdate with my princess boy.

  10. Marcy says:

    Great idea. Our family is in NYC and we’d be thrilled to meet another gender creative boy.

  11. henne12203 says:

    Love your idea!!! We are in search of a play date in the Johns Creek, Ga area

  12. Spydermonkey says:

    OTHER POSSIBLE networking partners would be GSA’s (more for older kids) and LGBT community groups like free2be.org the community center in Huntsville Al, has social workers that work with & within the community. (just throwing out ideas..)

    • livepresent says:

      A perfect example-I would love to meet Spydermonkey as I am in AL. Finding ways to connect others and then letting them figure out what to do together may be very powerful. Guidance from you Lori may be helpful (in terms of managing the blog, connecting others in the same state, perhaps sharing those contacts if permission is granted)

      • livepresent says:

        I should add-I don’t think it is just about setting up playdates- I personally think the blog offers a safe place for those who don’t yet feel comfortable but are trying to figure out who to talk to in their state/community, what resources are there local (and throughout). Facebook is great but not the only avenue. The blog for many of us has been a safe haven and a blog can continue in that capacity without using Facebook or twitter. It just has to be managed well when you get several people together. I also think there may be non profit organizations or funding entities that would consider supporting something like this -but I am not sure. Connection is powerful and can lead to awesome things like you have launched.

  13. Psychobabble says:

    This makes me think about setting up some kind of message board where all interested parties can post their own “seeking x” type of post and let people connect on their own that way. Don’t know if this already exists?

  14. Dr. Sayers says:

    Maybe a contact person in each region who could help connect families both to resources and to each other? If you go this route, I would be delighted to help out in the Southeastern PA (Philadelphia) area. I do this for clients on a regular basis, but most of the families who need this kind of connection are not seeking help from a psychologist. You know how to contact me if I can help. And, thanks again for all you do! You inspire me!

  15. Kerry says:

    Facebook group—folks can manage connections on threads, reach out via Facebook, follow each other. You can set privacy to secret and only add members with admin approval. Get volunteer admins. Good luck.

  16. In canada I have started an outreach program with PFLAG Durham Region.
    You can visit their website at http://pflagdurhamregion.com/

  17. CoeurDeux says:

    I would set up a contact in each state, and have a yahoo group that person coordinates. The requests would need to be confirmed for legitimacy by the moderator so that there is some sense of privacy within the group. This means each request to join would be filtered through you (in some manner), and then the yahoo group moderator. It is important that there aren’t lurkers on the group just waiting for a reason to call CPS. I have witnessed this on a nursing mom group.

    Also, we met up with our group http://www.transformingfamilies.org, through Children’s Hospital LA. This is a great way to do it because there are monthly support meetings for parents at CHLA and the kids play in another room. There is a room for little kids, tweens and teens, so the kids get the support they need. You are also able to test the waters of a play match, and when the kids find friends in the group, exchange contacts. We have found that just because a kid is trans or variant, doesn’t mean that they will get along with your kid.

    For safety reasons, I would avoid a mass database type setup. Especially if that spreadsheet is created online!

    I have tried creating my own local group, but so far, no responses. I am happy to coordinate a So Cal group, if you need me.

    • CoeurDeux says:

      Oh, I also meant to suggest that whoever moderates each state, should know of all the hospital support groups, local facebook groups and other resources for the area. They should also try to help the group become active with local Pride events. Too often these are geared for LGB, and the T (and Q) is not represented. Pride should be about one’s identity, not just orientation, and encompass all 4 components of identity. We need to help our society create a voice for these young kids who want to simply be who they are.

      Also, another safety precaution would be that only people that had been met in person, or friends of someone in the group in real life, could be added. Obviously more complicated, but this kind of group has safety issues unlike many others. Some trans kids are stealth and we have to be respectful for the privacy the family desires. A newspaper reporter, or someone with mal intent could really mess things up for these kids.

  18. Tristen says:

    I think a simple clearing house set up would work. The information is out there, it’s just fragmented and not always easy to find.

    Like so many community bulletin boards you could set up a section if the website to allow people to post seeking local play dates. Some kids just do better one on one then as part of a large group.

  19. LiberalMom says:

    Sign me up: Fayetteville, North Carolina! Would love a group like this:-) I thought about meetup.org as well, but a private Facebook page where there is a doc. linked up with people in each state would work as well…. You wouldn’t even have to promote it, just send people that specifically asks for it directly to that page.

    On another note: How about a website specifically for children with ALL the info for each state/city for help/resources. That would be HEAVEN! I would help pay to get that started!

    Thanks for being our (other parents of “rainbows”) supporter! You are loved!

  20. Kathleen says:

    I would love to be able to find other families in the western MA area. Boston is really too far to drive for our family, unfortunately.

    • J says:

      Kathleen- I am in western ma too but my child hasn’t presented as gender variant yet. (My husband is stealth trans though and we try to stay connected to the community) I’m happy to chat as an ally and sympathetic ear. :)

      • Kathleen says:

        We live a very trans-friendly area, and my son has plenty of experience with our trans adult friends. One of his favorite books is Backwards Day, by S Bear Bergman (sp?), which is about a girl who wants to be a boy. He hasn’t said anything about wanting to be anything other than a boy, but he likes both “boy” and “girl” toys, colors, nail polish, clothes, etc. How old is yours?

  21. Jennifer says:

    I would love to find one of these too. We live in Indiana and I’ve about given up hope of ever finding any children like my son around us. It would be a dream come true if we could though!

  22. Carrie says:

    Yes! Morgantown, WV area. We will drive!!!

  23. Christine says:

    Perhaps work out a relationship with Gender Spectrum so that you can refer families to them for matching? Then they’ll also benefit from their support, resources and connections to local recourses. I’m on the other side of the country in Vermont and they have been wonderfully supportive to me. They even have a monthly call-in support group for parents.
    http://Www.genderspectrum.org

  24. R says:

    In the Boston area and its surrounding communities there is something like this set up. There is a support group for parents of gender creative kids at Tufts Floating Hospital run by a developmental pediatrician. One of the members of this group started up an online group for these parents through “Big Tent”. She uses it to send out invites for social activities for the families (cook outs, a meet up at a park or an indoor kids “jump/bounce around”…) I would think it also could be used to help people make an initial contact with another family that is looking for playdates.

  25. Giselle says:

    Also thinking out loud: would the PFLAG organisation have any tips and advise? They may be able to give you some kind of idea about legal/responsibility issues that may be involved?
    I have a feeling that you’ll need a few more co-organisers to help you if you do want to do something like this on a more formal or perhaps official basis – ‘Find a gender nonconforming play date group in your area’ could be such a useful thing for lots of families out there who feel pretty alone right now. I’d say go for it!

  26. Cass says:

    It’s pretty easy to set up a questionnaire using google sites which will dump all the data straight into a real-time updated spreadsheets on your google drive. I’m pretty sure there’s even an embeddable widget laying around somewhere that would let you just plonk it straight into your existing site.

    You could create a page on the site for people looking to connect with others nearby. You’d probably want to vet each family individually (ask them questions via email – ask for pics, trust your gut), for privacy concerns – but it would be a good way of compiling all the info in one place so once you get a new request, you can easily look and say “why yes, I do know someone near you!” You’ve gotten a lot of offers to help here – so vetting could be outsourced reasonably easily. Think of it as a pilot project for one of the above commenter’s “J-date for gender non-conformists” ;)

  27. bmommyx2 says:

    at mommy & me class there is a dress up area & while there are a few boy things mostly there are princess type dresses & skirts and shoes & some fairy wings. My 2.5 yr old loves to wear the wings & yesterday at the very end of class he wanted a dress, I actually though it was a skirt, but I put it on wrong. Now he is constantly pointing to dresses & saying Princess, “his name” want. It’s so cute. I think will see if I can find him one, I figure when he get bored I’ll donate it to class. I already go him some wings to wear at home. Last night I spend the evening painting my boys ( 2.5 & 7) toes.

  28. bmommyx2 says:

    could you or someone else set up a private facebook page or a yahoo group & then everyone can just talk among themselves?

  29. Melanie says:

    My son would love to have other gender creative boys to have play dates with. I’ve wished for a play group like this for my son for awhile now. I hope you’re able to make a go of putting something together.

  30. ouidepuis1 says:

    I would say set up a website of some sort where people make a profile and set up their own play dates. Maybe have them pay a kind of fee (can be just a dollar or so) so you know they’re genuine??
    Just a thought. Goodluck!!!

  31. Kim says:

    Great great idea. I have been thinking about this for my son who is turning 5. We are in the LA area. If I can help with any coordinating let me know- I am not media or tech savvy but am a good soldier if you point me in the right direction! I do wonder if a mention in the genderspectrum lounge might be helpful?

    • CoeurDeux says:

      Kim, join us at Transforming Families at Childrens Hospital! We meet once a month at the hospital and the group is a great place to meet like minded folks. February’s meeting is in an odd room, so if you come that month, I can meet you in the lobby and walk you over. There are LOTS of kids in the 5 yr age range. Have your little one come, and see who he connects with, then get their contact info. Hope to see you there! http://www.transformingfamilies.org

      • Nancy says:

        CoeurDeux, what if your child is not transforming? Are there such kids there too?

      • Kim says:

        Thank you so much! I’m sorry for the slow reply but I just had a baby and have been getting back on my feet. I would really love to come to the group. Can I just drop in? It looks like the website suggests there is an intake process but I haven’t been able to get through so far (busy signal). I emailed the contact on the site too and am waiting to hear back. Thanks again for reaching out. I am really excited to connect with other families!

  32. Lori, This is a long overdue program for these children who often feel left out, as you already know..
    I don`t have advice can only offer my encouragement…. Go for it…Hooray for you and others like you..

  33. Jenny says:

    I LOVE this idea! I live in Kansas City and have been searching for a playmate for my 5 yr old son for years! I’ve even contacted some local sources and offered to even coordinate but to no avail… Id be happy to help if you need bodies!

  34. Colleen says:

    I could definitely use a service like this. What about through meetup?

  35. thalassa says:

    So, our family is Pagan, and I run into a similar problem, when it comes to our kids and living in a very, very Christian environment. There is a system of meet-ups that started called “Broom and Brew” (http://broomandbrew.blogspot.com/) It started out with a single group, but they set up a framework for other people to set up their own groups for their own areas in the ways that best fit them. Interested individuals from places are responsible for setting up their own group–which isn’t hard, all you need to do is open a non-personal gmail account, then connect it to a facebook account, maybe even run a (free) website (using Wix or something) off of it, or a blog…and voila! You have no real liability, but you can advertise its existence through your blog. Then, motivated families can build a support network and group for parents and kids in their communities that fit their needs.

  36. amanda a-r says:

    I LOVE that you are thinking about this. Thank you. I have in fact never contacted you about this, but I am looking for exactly that for my gender creative 6 year old kiddo. (I recently showed my son a video of Jason Brown the ice skater and pointed out the long hair and sparkles. When I told him there were other boys like him, he asked me, simply, “who?”) I wish I was techno savvy enough to give lots of ideas. Perhaps Gender Spectrum would be willing to help with the project? Thank you again, and if there is anything I could do to help, feel free to contact me.

  37. adrienne says:

    What about a meetup.com group(s)?

  38. Have you considered re-purposing dating software for this. Think of it as JDate.com for genderate creative PlayDates I’m sure you can get a low cost dating site script and make it go. I would NOT put it on this website. I would, in fact, put it in a separate business entity so you have some personal shielding.

    If you’re serious about this, I’d be willing to help you with the project to get it off the ground even though I don’t have a “child” in the struggle. You know how to reach me

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s