GLSEN Changing the Game

Family Blog: Angelle Maua

My name is Angelle Maua (they/she/elle), and I’m a nonbinary femme pansexual living in an RV in a loving San Diego environment. I am the proud parent of a transgender son who has taught me so much about confidence, resilience, love, self love, mental health, and being true to who you are no matter how hard it gets. He is my greatest gift in life, and I’m so grateful to have been able to navigate this journey with him.

My son began his transition almost 3 years ago while still in high school. As he embarked on this journey, I frequently worried about his safety while transitioning in a school with peers who knew him before he came out. I didn’t know if he was going to be bullied, if teachers were going to try to invalidate his lived experience as a trans teen, or if he was still going to be able to play sports. As a parent, my hope is always for my child to feel happy and safe in every environment they’re in, and I felt a responsibility to ensure that was true for my son.

At my son’s request, I talked to his principal, assistant principal, teachers, and counselors to explain his transition. They were very understanding and 100% committed to ensuring that he had a safe school environment. He was given access to the gender-neutral bathroom in the nurse’s office, and eventually, the school added more gender-neutral bathrooms. All the staff at school used his correct pronouns, and he had all of the necessary support to ensure he felt safe at school. His school even hosted a training on how to support LGBTQ+ students!

Participating in sports was key to my son thriving. He loved to compete and challenge himself. One of the reasons playing sports had such an impact on my son was due to the support and understanding of his principal, coaches, and other school personnel. He thrived because he was never made to feel different than any of the other student athletes. He played track and field, he was on the jump team, and he and his teammates had a wonderful bond. He ended up being invited to CIF California State Finals his senior year, but unfortunately, was unable to attend because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is currently enrolled in college and doing very well. Sports is still his passion and he will have a sports career in the future, though he is unsure what that will look like right now.

The advice I’d give to parents, guardians, or caregivers is to never invalidate your child’s lived experience. It’s your responsibility to listen, be present, open your mind, and support your child. While there is no book on how to be the perfect parent or guardian, you can get pretty close by committing to loving your child unconditionally, listening to them, and meeting their needs. You may not understand what they are experiencing, and that’s completely okay, as long as you are always there to support them. Every child goes through their own journey, and sometimes that journey will be difficult, but it can be made so much easier if you are on that journey with them.

Approaching parenting with acceptance and love will make your child’s life exponentially easier.

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Angelle (she/they/elle) is a very proud parent of a transgender teen, and it was through her child's transition she noticed the need for BIPOC safe, confidential brave spaces for support in LGBTQIA+ communities of color, especially the African American communities in North and Southeast San Diego Counties. It was because of this void in the BIPOC LGBTQIA+ communities that the GPC support groups and other services have formed. Her work mainly focuses on transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming communities to help ensure they have spaces to be 100% authentic and affirmed.

She has been an HIV/AIDS advocate/activist in the LGBTQIA+ community since 2006 as a certified S.I.S.T.A./T-S.I.S.T.A HIV Project trainer. She works closely with several transcompetent agencies, medical facilities and school districts advocating for transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming youth rights to have safe spaces in their communities and schools. As a single, African American, queer femme parent, she understands the need for support from her community (it does take a village) to help uplift, affirm, love, educate and change the narratives around what safe affirming and brave spaces look like for our youth, their families, significant others and caregivers.