Two Ottawa families of transgender children recognized for their work
Published Friday, July 3, 2015 5:46PM EDT Last Updated Friday, July 3, 2015 6:46PM EDT
Long before Bruce Jenner made the cover of Vanity Fair when "he" came out as a "she", two little Ottawa girls were making news here. Both were born boys, but identify as girls. Their families have supported them unconditionally.
Now, those families have been recognized for championing the transgender cause.
Warner and Charlie's families have come full circle in their quest to help their daughters become who they are.
‘I sometimes get bullied,’ Charlie Lowthian-Rickert told a crowded room at Family Services Ottawa, ‘just because I’m transgender but I get over it.’
It is here at Family Services Ottawa two years ago where the girls met and a support system grew as they discovered hundreds of families like theirs struggling with the same issues.
‘We get to share our stories,’ says Anne Lowthian, Charlie’s mother, ‘and what we've learned, share our pain.’
It is here at Family Services Ottawa two weeks ago where these families were recognized for the work they have done support this fragile population.
‘These two families were nominated for the Joan Gullen award and they fit perfectly in this award,’ says Kathryn Hill, the executive director of Family Service Ottawa. ‘It’s about people breaking ground, people who are strong and passionate social advocates, who are making a difference.’
For Charlie, who is 9, and Warner, who is 8, it's just about being true to themselves, no matter how mean the bullies can be.
‘Now I don't care what people say,’ says Warner, ‘it's their own fault they're mean.’
While Hollywood is opening up the dialogue on transgender issues, the spotlight is much dimmer in Ottawa. Warner has been hurt at school, bullied on the bus and assaulted in the washroom.
‘I was scared so I screamed,’ she says.
Her twin, who witnessed the events, was traumatized by the bullying but trying to deal with it.
‘I tell them “She is who she is and that's okay",’ says Emery Schaettgen.
And then there are questions even a mother can't answer.
‘In private she asks ‘who will I marry mommy because I’m not a girl,’ says Warner’s mother Melissa, ‘who will love me?’
So the award from Family Services is empowering, but more than that, it is a recognition that these families are on the right path to raising healthy and happy kids no matter their gender.
‘It’s part of daily life,’ says Elmar Schaettgen, Warner’s father, ‘I don't think about it anymore. Warner, in my mind, is a girl and we just roll on like that.’