June 19, 2014 8:00 am

Two transgender children struggle to be themselves

Watch above: An excerpt from Tracey Wilson’s interview with 16X9. Tracey was born a boy, but identifies as a girl.

From Trey to Tracey: One child’s journey to be herself

For Tracey Wilson, who is 10 now, her struggle is making sure people see her the way she does. She is transgender; born a boy, but has identified as a girl for as long as she can remember.

Tracey was born “Trey” and is the oldest of three children.

Tracey Wilson was born Trey. 16×9

16x9

“Sometimes I wish that I was just a girl, just a normal girl so I wouldn’t have to go through all of this.”

Tracey’s parents, Michelle and Garfield, struggled at first to come to terms with their little child, initially thinking that Trey was gay. But after seeking professional help and learning that their son was transgender, the couple embraced their new daughter.

Watch below: Garfield and Michelle Wilson talk about their struggles in accepting that their son, Trey, was really their daughter, Tracey.

Trey dressed and lived as a girl at home, at dance class and with her friends. But soon that wasn’t enough.

Tracey Wilson, who was born Trey. 16×9

16x9

Being a “full time girl” included school, a semi-private Catholic school. But when the Wilsons notified the school of Tracey’s wish, the school said “no.”

“I wanted to use the girl’s bathroom, I wanted to have the girl’s uniform,” says Tracey, clasping onto one of her favourite dolls. “I didn’t know it would all come to this.”

“This” is a human rights complaint that Tracey and her parents have launched against Catholic Independent Schools Vancouver and Sacred Heart Elementary for not allowing Tracey to be “Tracey.”

Instead of letting Tracey use the girl’s bathroom the school allowed Tracey to use the handicapped bathroom. But the school wouldn’t approve a name or uniform change, saying they did not have a policy for allowing it.

Watch below: Doug Lauson, superintendent of the Independent Catholic School Board of Vancouver, talks about the church’s position on being transgender and the research they are doing on how best to accommodate transgender students in their schools.


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To the Wilsons, it is not a medical issue. It is personal.

“When they said that they couldn’t let me and that God doesn’t make any mistakes and if he made me a boy then I would have to stay a boy,” says Tracey.

“I couldn’t even watch TV I was crying so much, I couldn’t read a book, I couldn’t do anything. Literally I just lay in my bed sobbing.”

Tracey’s human rights complaint is set to be heard this spring.

10-year-old transgender child fights to have gender removed from birth certificate

“I’ve always been a girl, even when I was considered a boy,” says 10-year-old transgender child, Harriette Cunningham.

“In my dreams I was never a boy.”

Harriette Cunningham was born a boy, but knew early on she was meant to be a girl. 16×9

16x9

Harriette is transgender, born a boy but identifies as a girl. About a year ago, Harriette fully transitioned, legally changing her name from Declan, wearing only female clothes and being referred to with female pronouns.

Biologically, she is still a boy, but she now wants her birth certificate and passport to reflect her real identity.

Watch below: Harriette was born a boy, but knew early on she was meant to be a girl.

“It was in Grade 2 when she said ‘Mom, I want to buy some actual dresses to go back to school,’” says Harriette’s mother, Megan. The Cunninghams allowed Harriette, then known as Declan, to dress as “he” wanted.

Watch below: Colin Cunningham reveals the moment he realized his son, Declan, was really his transgender daughter, Harriette.

“Harriette has a very strong personality, kids would say ‘what are you?’ And she’d go ‘I’m a person, that’s what I am,’” says grandmother Cathie Dickens.

Dickens decided to take action. She and Harriette started petitioning ministers and MPs to remove gender from birth certificates, and initiated a human rights complaint against the B.C. government, saying that Harriette never should have been labeled as “male” to begin with.

“When I have to show ID and I’m going through customs, people give me dirty looks and they kind of question me, ‘who is this?’ and it makes me feel like I shouldn’t have to go through that,”  says Harriette, who regularly visits her grandmother in Palm Springs.

Watch below: Lawyer Barbara Findlay explains why having gender on identification is outdated.

While her family has supported her, others have not been so kind.

“I got called a ‘he-she,’ I got called quite mean names and I’d try not to let them… show that I was sad but…it really hurts me,” says Harriette, who has watched the number of birthday party invitations dwindle from 10 two years ago to just one last year.

“I don’t want to be just someone wearing a costume. I want to be me.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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