Mom hopes transgender child will help others ‘be free’

York Region’s first Pride Parade ‘Day One for a journey that is just starting,’ organizer says.
By: Francine Kopun, Business reporter, Published on Sat Jun 22 2013

Leah Sheridan and daughter Danielle pose with some of the props for their float in York Region's first Pride parade, which took place in Richmond Hill on Saturday.

Leah Sheridan and daughter Danielle pose with some of the
props for their float in York Region’s first Pride parade, which took
place in Richmond Hill on Saturday.

Danielle Sheridan, age 8, was born a boy.

Before she was 3, she began telling her parents she was a girl.

It wasn’t a phase. She was insistent. She identified with Cinderella.
She wanted to grow up and marry a prince.

She began dressing like a girl at home.

“We kept it in our home only because of our fear of society. We wanted
her to be happy, but we wanted her to be safe,” said her mom, Leah
Sheridan, 35.

Finally, her daughter said she didn’t want to live if she had to live as a boy.

“She said that God made a mistake and that she was born with the wrong
body parts,” said Sheridan.

“We waited to see if it was a phase, but no, it’s deep in her heart,
her soul and her brain.”

Danielle is a transgender child. Once utterly taboo, transgender
children, even young children, are finding it easier to live their
true lives.

After seeking counselling with a gender therapist at Family Services
of York Region, Danielle’s parents allowed her to decide whether she
would choose to live as a girl or a boy.

In a flash she was off, stuffing all her boy clothes into garbage
bags. She had picked out a new name: Danielle.

A couple of the boys at her school didn’t understand, but they came
around. Teachers in the school bought books to help her classmates
understand the change.

Danielle’s brother was and remains her biggest supporter.

Danielle is happier, bubbly and now doing well at school. She no
longer talks about not wanting to live.

On Saturday, Danielle led a colourful mermaid float in the first pride
parade in York Region, winding through Richmond Hill. The family had
worked on the float for weeks with friends.

“My daughter had the time of her life,” said Sheridan.

Richmond Hill Mayor David Barrow threw his support behind the event.

“We’re a very inclusive community in Richmond Hill, whether it’s
faith, gender or sexual orientation,” said Barrow, after the parade.

He was unable to attend this year due to a scheduling conflict — the
parade was put together in about three weeks. But he said he plans to
attend a pride week barbecue in Richmond Hill on Sunday and will
participate in the York Region pride parade next year.

With two floats and some 200 people, the parade travelled west on
Lorne Ave. then north along Yonge St., past the Richmond Hill Centre
for the Performing Arts. It ended at the Falcon and Firkin pub, where
organizers celebrated over brunch.

“It was a historic event, Day One for a journey that is just
starting,” said one of the organizers, Jacob Gal, who lives in

Fellow organizer Dave Williams said they wanted to make the point that
residents don’t have to pretend to be heterosexual when they’re north
of Steeles Ave. — there’s a diverse community north of Steeles too.

“One reason we wanted a parade this year is there’s nothing like a
parade for visibility,” said Williams.

Mayor Rob Ford has been noncommittal about whether he will attend any
events at this year’s pride celebration in Toronto, which began June
21 and runs 10 days.

It’s the largest pride celebration in the world, drawing an estimated
1.2 million participants, according to organizers. It ends June 30,
when the 33rd annual pride parade will march through the city.

According to organizers the event celebrates the history, courage,
diversity and future of Toronto’ s LGBTTIQQ2SA communities, which
stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex,
Queer/Questioning, 2 Spirited and Allies.

Leah Sheridan knows there are other families with transgender children
in the region. She felt it was important to support Danielle publicly
by taking part in the parade, so she would know how much support is
out there for her.

“There are other people suffering the way she did. Maybe her courage
will let them be free and be who they are,” she said.

© Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. 1996-2013

http://www.thestar. com/news/ gta/2013/ 06/22/mom_ hopes_transgende r_child_will_ help_others_ be_free.html


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