A South Portland mother explains why she supported her child coming out as transgender

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. It’s been quite the day. Let’s review.

What we’re talking about

Emily Wedick of South Portland wrote this touching piece about her daughter, “the most nurturing big sister a mom could ask for … [who] also happens to have been born a boy.”

A ton of people read her essay today, and it drove a lot of conversation.

One part that really jumped out at me was her explanation of how her family came to the conclusion that Violet, 5, was not just going through a phase, like some kids do:  

Doctors, psychologists, teachers and parents all know that it is developmentally appropriate for preschool-age children to explore gender norms through imaginative play. Even cisgender children — that is, not-transgender children, who identify as the gender a doctor labeled them at birth — like to try on new names sometimes. When I was 6, I begged my family to call me Sara after the then-popular Jefferson Starship song, and a dear friend of mine changed her name for a good portion of her college career.

So how can parents be so sure that their young transgender child isn’t just engaging in a whim?

In some ways we can’t. As parents, we are constantly making decisions with and for our children, and we won’t know how some of those decisions turn out for many years. Likewise, how our children express their gender can change over time as they move through the world. But the medical and mental health community agrees that it is critical to affirm young children’s preferred gender when children are consistent, insistent and persistent about who they are. Violet is exploring different ways of being a girl, but she is certainly all three.

Read Wedick’s piece here.

In other news (formerly ‘ICYMI’)

Someone wants to put up a new building next to The Snug on Washington Ave. — A developer looking to put up a new building is asking the city for a zoning change to allow for construction on a vacant lot at the corner of Washington Avenue and Congress Street. Most of the lot is already zoned to allow building, but a small part is not. The building envisioned by Biddeford developer Caleb Johnson (no relation to the “American Idol” winner of the same name) would be five stories with stores on the ground level and residences above. — Jake Bleiberg

Advocates for new Mainers get organized — A group of Mainers have formed an organization to advocate for and help recent immigrants make a home in the state. The New Mainers Alliance was launched Thursday at Portland City Hall, where last month the city’s immigrant and refugee communities gathered to decry disparaging comments Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made about Somali-Mainers during a visit to the city.

The new group wants to help immigrants integrate into Maine communities and promote civic engagement, organizer Abdifatah Ahmed, of Lewiston, said in a statement.

“Recent biased statements against immigrants and minorities in the national and state political discourse could create an atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety,” said Ahmed. “[We] will work hard to ensure that such feelings do not cause suppression in voting among immigrants and minorities.”

An outspoken Trump supporter, Gov. Paul LePage has also suggested that refugees threaten the state and carry diseases. — Jake Bleiberg

Tandem Coffee is expanding on Anderson Street — “Our wholesale business has doubled in the last year, so this is really about more room to roast,” said owner William Pratt. That’s why Tandem is expanding into Bunker Brewing’s space next door. Bunker, meanwhile, is moving to Libbytown. Happy National Coffee Day, by the way.

The Big Idea

Most Mainers may support ranked-choice voting. But do they understand it? — In his newsletter, Mike Shepherd writes that a recent poll lays out a potential problem for the group that’s trying to change the way Mainers vote.

[The internal] poll said while 60 percent of respondents favored the reform, only 49 percent would vote for it if the election was held that day. However, when they learned more about it, that number rose to 55 percent. Only 46 percent of respondents said that they were familiar with the proposal, while 43 percent said they weren’t.

The campaign has been trying to educate the public with “beer elections” at Maine breweries during September, and more will surely learn about it over the course of October. But it seems that education is still the campaign’s biggest hurdle.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.