TNET – A Brief and Biased Background
by Mary Boenke
TNET’s beginnings were at the Indianapolis National PFLAG Conference in 1995. Our own long-time lesbian daughter had just come out to us as an female-to-male (FTM) transsexual and I needed help! He had further learned that his local PFLAG chapter could not help his group lobby for trans inclusion in a local ordinance because "that is not PFLAG's mission." After the transgender workshop, half a dozen of us pulled our chairs out into the hall to talk about how we could make PFLAG become trans inclusive.
Maggie Heineman set up an email list. I lurked and learned, not even knowing what questions to ask. A Steering Committee evolved and we met daily via email. We soon set out to find Transgender Coordinators (who came to be known as TCords) in as many chapters as possible, plus a dozen Regional TCords to keep in touch with them. Within a couple years we had over 200 TCords across the country, all working to educate their chapters. (The total is now over 260.)
We needed an introductory booklet to help educate chapters. The project evolved into "Our Trans Children" (OTC), with Jessica Xavier as chief author. We solicited friends and raised enough for the initial printing, which we sent free to all the PFLAG chapters. Soon orders for more came piling in and TNET was in business. Coming up on its fourth edition, OTC has sold over 35,000 copies, and is one of the most widely distributed trans publications ever created. The income from this has allowed TNET to do an annual all-chapter mailing, publish OTC in Spanish, and also make our wonderful TransFamily video. Except for one $1000 grant, TNET has been entirely self-supporting.
We then petitioned the PFLAG Board to change the by-laws to include the TNET mission. In September 1998, at the annual meeting in San Francisco, "gender identity" was added to PFLAG’s mission by a resounding vote. In 2002, TNET became PFLAG's first official "Special Affiliate," recognized with the same privileges and responsibilities as regular chapters. Regional TCords have given over 3,000 talks and workshops, and many (perhaps most) PFLAG chapters now have TCords and annual transgender programs. Transpersons and their families are now an integral part of our PFLAG family! We are proud of our success and we are proud of PFLAG!
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