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Thread: sharing my experiences in a panel discussion

  1. #1
    Cereal Killer Ashley in Virginia's Avatar
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    sharing my experiences in a panel discussion

    Hi, I've been asked to share my experience with being trans and my transition to a group of parents of transgender teens. On the panel will be myself, a woman who's 17 year old daughter has had GRS and a trans male.

    I sat on a similar panel for the same group last year, but it was a total train wreck. I felt unprepared, super unsure of myself and really nervous. I don't know how to prepare for this and exactly what to share and what not to share. My story is pretty negative and I'm not trying to scare these parents. I don't know how to start, or where to go. I'd like to make it Q&A, but I don't think the lady who runs the group is up for that.

    The group isn't foreign to me. I have been attending occasional meetings with them to share about my child's transition and to try and help them understand transitioning a little better. I am friendly with all of the people I have met. The crowd is 95% women.

    So any thoughts on public speaking and ideas how to frame my story would be appreciated.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Ashley in Virginia; 06-08-2018 at 06:21 PM.
    If I ever get real rich, I hope I'm not real mean to poor people, like I am now.

  2. #2
    Member Ariana225's Avatar
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    Ashley,

    My opinion would be to be completely honest and use appropriate language since kids will be present.

    You said your story is negative, but that might be a good learning experience, depending on what it is. It might help the parents to realize in a lot of cases it really is life or death and to take their transgender teens serious when they say who they are.

    But Iím not in the least bit a therapist. I STRONGLY recommend meeting with a licensed gender therapist to discuss what they would do in that situation. They went to school to know the right and wrong things to say to people that are dealing with such a delicate topic.

    Good luck, please give us a follow up on how it goes!

    Ariana

  3. #3
    Cereal Killer Ashley in Virginia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ariana225 View Post
    Ashley,

    My opinion would be to be completely honest and use appropriate language since kids will be present.
    No kids will be present. This is an adults only group.

    I've spoken to my therapist about this the last time I did this, and she didn't have much to offer aside from telling me it's a good thing to share and whatnot.
    If I ever get real rich, I hope I'm not real mean to poor people, like I am now.

  4. #4
    Gold Member Rachael Leigh's Avatar
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    Well be honest about your own story, but also for the parents make sure they know that if their child is trans supporting
    them is of upmost importance. Itís one of the keys to success to their child being ok with themselves

  5. #5
    Member Ariana225's Avatar
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    https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/8564...ushpmg00000003

    ďTransgender people who are rejected by their families or lack social support are much more likely to both consider suicide, and to attempt it. Conversely, those with strong support were 82% less likely to attempt suicide than those without support, according to one recent study. Another study showed that transgender youth whose parents reject their gender identity are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than transgender youth who are supported by their parents.Ē


    Overall itís a great article that you could site some statistics.
    Last edited by Ariana225; 06-08-2018 at 10:03 PM.

  6. #6
    Transgender Person Pat's Avatar
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    I give similar talks frequently, though my audiences are often lay adults who have no connection to the trans community. My first suggestion would be to sit down and write an outline of your experience that can guide your talk when you give it.

    I don't know about your story, buy mine includes non-supportive parents. When I know that there are parents of transgender kids in the audience, I always make a point of thanking them for being supportive of their kids. I think it's nice for them to get some acknowledgement of how awesome they are.

    The people I address mostly want to hear about my actual life -- but because they have no experience I have to start with some vocabulary and I try to weave in some of the latest science. Talking about those things are "head space" topics and an audience quickly starts running an inner dialog trying to nit-pick what you're telling them, so don't spend too much time on that. I try to reach them through "heart space" by telling them about the experience of being transgender in a society where 99.4% of the population does not experience what we experience.

    They probably would be interested to hear about the effects of hormone therapy as you experienced them. If your transition included surgery and you're comfortable talking about the experience (not necessarily the medical details) they might be interested in hearing that too. How did you feel before and after? Is your life better than it was? Was transition worth it? Parents of trans kids are probably very interested to hear about the experience they're potentially putting their children through. Reading and doing research is great, but having a living, breathing person in front of them carries a lot more emotional impact.

    As far as speaking, have an outline the points you want to cover but don't read from a script. I always try to "read the room" and modify my talk on the fly to suit the audience. I don't change the events in my life, but I may skip some if they don't seem to be appropriate to that group. Continually scan the audience and make eye contact. You'll quickly be able to tell if what you're saying is making sense to them. If not, restate your point in a different way. If they seem to be getting it, drive on. Smile, be personable and stay human -- don't put emotional distance between yourself and the audience if they're looking for emotional intimacy.

    I am not a woman; I don't want to be a woman; I don't want to be mistaken for a woman.
    I am not a man; I don't want to be a man; I don't want to be mistaken for a man.
    I am a transgender person. And I'm still figuring out what that means.

  7. #7
    Gold Member Teresa's Avatar
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    Ashley,
    Maybe forget the group for a few moments and spend some time writing you history down, I'm sure it's not all negatives , so think about the positive as well. If you've had counselling away from the group perhaps relate to that and give you thoughts on it . The bottom line is you are part of a group to help each other , I'm afraid you are correct people don't want to hear total doom anmd gloom, that's why I suggest picking some high spots.

    OK my story on this is a couple of weeks ago we had a loose brief to present our experiences as TGs to a delegation of NHS representatives , I was asked because I have had counselling within the NHS , I knew the brief was loose so didn't really make any notes , three of us were called forward in front of an almost full lecture theatre . One did the intro as she personally didn't have any NHS experiences , the second read from carefully worded notes about the long waiting time for consultations . Then my intro came , so I stepped from behind the rostrum and approached the delegates , I made a quip about being scared and then I must present a scary sight , then totally winged it for ten minutes telling my story in context with the NHS . I had never done public speaking before and certainly not in front of a group of people dressed , evenso I'd lived my story long enough so I told it as it was , there were funny moments which I related to. The great outcome was we filled our half hour slot , question time went well and we received a lovely applause as we took our seats .

    If the story is in you don't be afraid to tell it , the audience is with you , willing you on .
    Last edited by Teresa; 06-09-2018 at 05:21 AM.
    The real me ,no going back.

  8. #8
    Gold Member Kaitlyn Michele's Avatar
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    I have done these panels and I have extensive experience with public speaking..
    Some of the panels have been only semi-friendly and skeptical...including one at a church
    PM me if you'd like.

    Specifically to these panels you can think of two things..

    first what is the panel topic and what does the person running the group want...seems like its pretty open ended and you can say what you want..


    so the second is to think in terms of "themes"....yours may be different but my theme is about humanizing our experiences...I find it does resonate...
    I talk about how lets get politics and conflict out of it... you are just talking about day to day life...and by sharing you hope to get some understanding of why trans people do what they do...why its not crazy and we not mentally ill or objects .... so many people dehumanize out of ignorance and bias..

    many people dont know one of us... culture and society objectify us even more than women in general....so many of our portrayals in the media are about our transformation and appearance...a prurient interest in it... scandal, weird, etc etc..

    you are there to say "hey im just Ashley".....

    and I think telling your basic story all the way back... keep it short but with details that are human...how you felt...your doubts, your fears and then all the negative stuff..... and then the coup de grace. "hey we all have problems...many of them big problems...this one is mine and its really not different..im just trying to get by...that's all this is"... in other words im a human being just like you ....etc... that's not perfect but its a theme I have used over and over again...

    also at the beginning admit you are nervous...not an expert...unsure of what to say.... they will root for you....they will identify with it and look at you as courageous..... most of them would be terrified.....and you tell them you are doing this because you want to help others

    just my thoughts...
    I am real

  9. #9
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    Ashley, you'll do well, I'm sure.

    In addition to your life story, you might make some points for the parents to consider on their own time:

    1. That there are no real answers as to why anyone is trans.
    2. There are scientific studies as to how it may be related to a hormone flood while in utero (the reason boys have nipples!).
    3. You can ask, with a show of hands, how many of their children had medication to stop the onset of puberty until the child could finally determine if trans was the answer.

    Also, consider this .... though the parents and teens have been through the mill, so to speak, prepare a handout that contains EXCELLENT links to the subject that may contain information not yet known to them.

    Might there be a possibility to have several GRS transsexuals in the audience who started their journeys as teens for possible later conversations (from the horses' mouths, so to speak) with parents? Just a thought.

    BTW, I'm TG not TS.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Aunt Kelly's Avatar
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    Hi, Ashley.

    First of all, bless you for your leadership and for "giving back" to those in the community who need all the support they can get.

    If you have never heard of Toastmasters International, check it out. It is respected organization that exists to develop communications and leadership skills. If you are looking for a supportive resource to develop your public speaking skills, you will find nothing better. And no, it is not just for CEO's and politicians. Far from it. People from every walk of life can benefit from Toastmasters.

  11. #11
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    Ashley, with respects to a possible handout, here are two of the type I'd suggest:
    For those of you that have internet access you may want to read here http://www.webmd.com/sex/gender-identity-disorder and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_identity_disorder .

  12. #12
    Cereal Killer Ashley in Virginia's Avatar
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    So, to follow up and give an update. It was a train wreck. I thought I had a plan and a focus and all of that went out of the window.

    There were four of us on the panel, 2 young trans guys, a mother who's 17 year old daughter has had GRS and myself. They were all well spoken and focused on what they wanted to say. When I became my turn, I froze and then mumbled my way thru my story and my child's story. There were about 30 people in attendance, all of whom were parents of a child who is transitioning.

    I really wish I had more to offer these people but I guess I'm just not built for it. So back in my hole I go.
    If I ever get real rich, I hope I'm not real mean to poor people, like I am now.

  13. #13
    Gold Member Teresa's Avatar
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    Ashley,
    We all learn from our mistakes , try and make a next time , everyone knows it's not easy . The fact you were prepared to do it is great , your life is important and your story might just help someone else .

    Going back to my previous reply I could have frozen up and stood there like a dummy , I admit I surprised myself having never done anything like it before , my worse fear was having that nervous quaver in my voice , you hear yourself say every word and it doesn't sound right . Maybe age helps in some respects , you don't care as much what people think .
    The real me ,no going back.

  14. #14
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    Ashley, sorry it didn't go as well as you hoped. But, you learned from it. You know what you wanted to say, I'm sure. Now, how to get it out of you, comfortably. Don't write it all out and read from it. Better, on one sheet of paper, jot down a word or two (three is OK, too) that will give you recall of the point you want to make, and create a sequence of words for all points you wish to make. For your most important points, use big letters. Then you can speak from your heart's memory. It works!

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    Ashley do not give up, I took public speaking in college and although it's not easy, some tips will help. 95% of your speech/presentation is preparation, over prepare what you are going to say, put it on paper. Then practice, practice and practice some more, best to look at yourself in the mirror, weird as it sounds it can help. You want to be prepared so it is just like having a conversation with the room. The first time 99% of the class had to speak, we were all way past nervous, the more you do this, the easier it becomes. Hope this helps in the future.

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