Blair Curtis wasn’t sure just how many people would show up for the first meeting of Parents of Trans and Gender Diverse Kids Western Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter and was kind of worried that no one would
“Not because I didn’t expect people to show up, but just because we had a lot of people saying that they were going to come, but I was fearful if they would actually show up or not.”
So, he was extremely shocked when 10 trans youth and more than 15 parents showed up for the meeting at Grenfell Campus on Tuesday night.
Blair, a trans male from McIvers, recently shared his story with The Western Star.
When Blair came out, he and his mom Gerri-Lynn Curtis sought support through the Parent of Trans and Gender Diverse Kids — Newfoundland and Labrador group in St. John’s.
Recognizing a need for a support group in this region they decided to start one.
Seeing the number of people that showed up confirmed the need.
“We are showing people that LGBTQ people do exist here,” said Blair.
Those who attended came mostly from the Corner Brook area with a few visitors from Ontario who had heard about the group during their travels. They’ve also had people reach out to them from all over the west coast who plan to attend future meetings.
Blair said the people who attended were very thankful that the group had been started.
“They couldn’t believe that such a group was here in Corner Brook and they were all so excited.”
The trans youth met in one room and the parents in another and while Blair has attended support group meetings in St. John’s, this one was different for him.
“When you’re actually leading it, and you’re starting the conversations and you’re getting everyone engaged it’s the best feeling in the world,” he said.
“I didn’t expect so many people to be so honest and open about their experiences. It was really great for them to share that with me and for me to share my story with them.”
He said some of those who attended had not even come out to their families yet.
Together they talked about their transitions and journeys, about families that are supportive and those that aren’t and dealing with religious families.
He was shocked that there are still a lot of issues out there for trans youth, in particular for kids in junior high who deal with bullying and issues around washrooms.
His mom talked with the parents, many of whom are still struggling as they are new to having a trans child. He said she, too, was surprised at how open they were to telling their stories and felt she helped them by telling hers.
The next meeting of the Parents of Trans and Gender Diverse Kids Western Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter will take place on Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. at Grenfell Campus.