Saturday, March 01, 2008

Melania Marquez has the best mom ever (or how to navigate high-school as a Latina trans teen)

"Will you go to 80's Saddies?"
15 year old Melania Marquez writes a message on a balloon
before inviting a boy to a school dance (photo by Matt McClain of The Rocky Mountain News).

Rocky Mountain News from Colorado has a profile of 15 year old Melania Marquez and the stuff that she has to face as a high-school student: The extra-curricular activities (she is on the girl's track team), the high-school gossip, the other girls ecouraging her to ask boys out and the awkwardness of rejection when a potential date wants to be a friend rather than a boyfriend.

Pretty regular stuff for a high-school teen. Pretty amazing that Melania happens to be a transgender teen.

I was struck by the fact that, being from a Latino household, Melania nevertheless has always been lovingly supported by her mother, Michelle, veven as the mom has struggled to understand her daughter's quick willingness to embrace her transgender self which she rightfully thinks might put Melania at a higher risk of being discriminated against than if she identified as a gay boy.

Read the full story here.

Sadly, what is unsurprising is the slight and not so slight rejection that Melania faces sometimes. In the article she describes taunts made by classmates as well as the difficulty that she has in finding a date that will want to continue dating her (a boy is taunted for agreeing to accompany Melania to a movie and others want to be 'friends' when Melania discloses the fact she is transgender).

Worse is the reaction from what I assume are adults in the online comments section below the story:

Gene writes: "Melaina is courageous, how so? . . , hopefully not contagious.." (later on he ads "Is this new intermediate sex, able to reproduce him/herself?").

And then there is forwhatitis who says "Hey, think of the possibilities..... A minority boy from a home without a father, grows up to identify as a female even though he has male genitalia. Perhaps we could encourage this so that instead of being gang-bangers, rapists, burglers (sic.), murderers and thugs, these boys will instead start baking each other cookies! I can already see the benefits of drive-by huggings already!"

Misogyny! Racism! Xenophobia! Homophobia! Transphobia! All rolled into a itsy bitsy online comment. Yikes! At the very least Melania seems to take most taunting in strides and hopefully will survive all the usual high-school gossip and drama - as well as the world beyond.

Kudos to her mom, though, Michelle Benzor-Marquez, for standing up for Melania and for going that extra mile and accepting her daughter when so many families disown their own when they come out as gay, never mind transgender.


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