Post submitted by Sula Malina, HRC Children, Youth and Families Program Coordinator

HRC recently sat down with Keisha and Sean Michaels, members of HRC Foundation’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council, to learn more about their family’s story. The council is a coalition of some of the the nation's leading parent-advocates working for equality and fairness for transgender people, with the intention of connecting, mobilizing and amplifying many of the most powerful voices of love, inclusion and support for transgender equality.  

Keisha and Sean Michaels grew up in Massachusetts, but have lived in Maryland since meeting as undergrads at Hampton University, an Historically Black College and University (HBCU). Keisha practices medicine full-time and co-moderates a Facebook group for physicians who support parents of children who identify as LGBTQI. Sean is an entrepreneur and stock market trader.

The Michaelses are the parents of a transgender child and have committed to helping other families love and accept their children and family members who are gender-expansive.

What inspired you to join HRC's Parents for Transgender Equality Council?

We joined the council because we saw it as an opportunity to help someone see that there are Black parents who support their transgender children.  

What part of HRC's work do you connect with the most?  

HRC’s legislative efforts to achieve equality are what inspires us most. We realize that there are many people who would choose not to treat our child and children like her well, but legislation can guarantee that transgender kids and adults will be protected by law -- despite how people may feel about them.

This February, we celebrate Black History Month. What does this month mean to you as parents?  

Black History Month is the celebration of the road journeyed by our people in this country. It means shining a light on both our seemingly endless fight for justice and equality and the joy of the vast and myriad accomplishments of our ancestors despite it all -- subjugation, terrorism, brutal violence, etc. We want our children to stand proudly on their shoulders, knowing and appreciating that they are indeed their ancestors’ wildest dreams come true.

What's one message you have for other families with transgender children who are navigating life at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities?  

If you have a transgender child, accept the child, even if you are having a hard time understanding, embracing or respecting what it means. Do not underestimate how important this is for your child. We know that you love your child, and we’re asking that you choose that love over what you’ve been taught was “right.” Many of us in brown, Black and sometimes poor communities have a long tradition of not accepting transgender people. It might be hard, but doing so may be the difference between life and death for your child.

To learn more about HRC Foundation's work with transgender youth and their families, visit our Children, Youth and Families Program. Check out HRC Foundation’s latest report on Black and African-American LGBTQ Youth to learn more about the unique experiences of young people living at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities.


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