An Interview With Kim Pearson, Executive Director Trans Youth Family Allies, Inc., by Jim Koury
Kim Pearson is Executive Director/Co-Founder of TransYouth Family Allies (TYFA) and National Board President of PFLAG-TNET. She first directed her energy into GLBT support, advocacy and education as the founder and president of her local PFLAG Chapter when the youngest of her three children came out as lesbian in 2005. Eighteen months later she found herself facilitating that same child’s transition to living life as a young man. Fueled by her passion for ensuring respect and equal rights for children like hers she co-founded TYFA, the first and only national organization that supports, educates and advocates exclusively for gender variant and transgender children. In its short history TYFA has provided support to over 100 families, and training to hundreds of GLBT organizations, service professionals and government officials all over the United States. TYFA and their families have been featured on several local/national radio programs, national/regional television and numerous print articles.
JK: Transgender is a term many don’t understand very well and is part of the acronym LGBT that is not discussed much and is often misunderstood. The term “transgender” has evolved through the years, so can you explain the term and what it encompasses.
KP: Honestly, I can’t. If you ask 50 different people what it means you will likely get 50 different answers. Here is one from Wikipedia: a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society.
In our work we feel it is important to define and explain the difference between ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’. We give a very simplistic definition as we are often talking with people who have no prior knowledge of this topic. With that in mind we tell them: sexual orientation is who you like and gender identity is who you are. For some people this results in understanding for the first time.