When Stacey Regimbald’s son told her three years ago that he wasn’t comfortable in his own body, she didn’t know how to react.
“He said, ‘mommy, I feel like I was born in the wrong body; this isn’t right to me,’” she said of her now 14-year-old son Cody.
“I thought, oh my gosh, where do we go from here? There’s no manual, no rulebook. It was very hard.”
Cody’s birth assigned sex was female, but he identifies as male and has changed his name. At first, the transition made Regimbald feel like she’d lost a daughter.
“I cried myself to sleep many nights, like I was grieving her, even though she was never really there,” she said.
But the change only strengthened their relationship in the long run.
“The fact that he could come to me, and be comfortable telling me something like that, is huge. He is so much happier now,” she said. “Now we can bond, whereas before, he was always so miserable. Now, we are like two peas in a pod.”
Regimbald is sharing her journey as a parent of a transgender child at the upcoming Sarnia Speaks event, focused on gender identity, June 28 at the Sarnia Library.
“Education is key. I just want people to be more understanding,” she said.
It’s the ninth installment of the widely successful dialogue series launched last year.
“It’s a safe space for youth and adults to come and share their experiences and talk about the needs and gaps in the community,” said Crystal Fach, who will help facilitate the event.
“In Sarnia-Lambton, we have a lot of trans folks that I’ve worked with — and we want to show how marginalized they are in our community, and in general.”
Transgender or trans is used to describe people who experience the need to present themselves as and/or who identify as other than the gender they were assigned at birth.
Last week, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-16, which protects Canadians from discrimination based on gender identity or expression. The bill was opposed in both houses by the Conservatives.
In the House of Commons last November, Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu stated: “There are many people in this country who do not believe that a transgendered lifestyle is God’s plan or that it is medically beneficial, so if we pass this legislation, would that then affect their ability to tell their children not to speak about those ideas in a public place?”
Fach said many Sarnians have trans neighbours, brothers, sisters and co-workers.
“They’re people in our community that just want to be accepted, and I’m hoping that people will come hear their stories and see how wonderful and amazing they are,” she said.
“And we can stop having these conversations about people using the bathroom.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Sarnia Speaks: Gender Identity
WHEN: Wednesday, June 28, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Sarnia Public Library
DETAILS: Open to the public; free admission