After my son came out as transgender in early 2018, I found myself in an accidental activist role. One of the most important roles I’ll ever be in and one that I’m honored to own. I became thirsty for knowledge and committed to passing on good information, while fighting for equality and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community.
My advocacy work began in spring of 2018 when I approached my son’s school about him coming out. I had no idea there were local resources and it felt like we were the only family going through this. Low and behold, I found the most beautiful community, but there just weren’t many public voices.
I joined forces with fellow local advocates, who had already laid the framework of our school district’s transgender inclusion guidelines, bound and determined to implement them to keep our trans students safe. I then began speaking at school board meetings, storytelling, and before I even realized it, I was a loud and proud advocate, raising voices of young transgender kids and their families.
My most favorite aspect of advocacy work is storytelling. Reaching others, connecting, touching hearts, transforming beliefs by the power of storytelling. With my son’s permission, I speak to groups wanting and willing to learn about what this journey means, what a gift it is to have a transgender child.
It’s my passion within advocacy work to also reach and assist parents who are new to the journey of their child coming out. It’s imperative that we connect with one another so we can feel that sense of community, ask and answer difficult questions, and share resources with one another. If it wasn’t for other public parents of transgender children who shared their journey, (specifically Debi Jackson, Mimi Lemay, and Amber Briggle), I honestly don’t know where I’d be. I hope to be that person to others.
I speak publicly for those who can’t. I educate for those who lost their lives to suicide due to family and societal rejection. I educate and center the voices of trans youth in hopes that someday it won’t be necessary.
- Stonewall Democrat Caucus, Sarasota, Florida, September 2018; guest speaker
- Won’t Be Erased Trans Rights Rally, St. Pete, Florida, November 2018;guest speaker
- All Together Now, Equality Florida Conference, St. Pete, Florida, February 2019; panelist
- ALSO Youth Fundraising Brunch, September 2019, guest speaker
- Pinellas County LGBTQ+ Youth Coalition meeting, St. Pete, Florida, October 2019; guest speaker
- Sarasota County School Board Support Services LGBTQ+ Ally Training, Equality Florida Safe and Healthy Schools Program, Sarasota, Florida, January 2020; guest speaker
- LGBTQ+ Pink Festival, Istanbul, Turkey, January 2020; panelist
- Transcaster Radio Podcast, guest
In The News:
ABC7 News 40 Round Table Discussion
ABC Action News Re: School Board Guidelines
Fox13 Tampa Bay Re: School Board Guidelines
WFLA Tampa Bay Re: School Board Guidelines
Sarasota Herald Tribune Re: A Day In The Life of a Transgender Student
I’m involved with making policy changes for our LGBTQ+ community on the state level by participating in local activism, as well as joining Equality Florida’s Lobby Days; going to speak with legislative representatives at our state capitol.
I am also the co-founder of the Trans Love Project, a fundraising company for small, grassroots LGBTQ+ organizations. We sell shirts and accessories, donating all profits to an organization in need. The amazing Rhodes Perry interviewed me on his podcast, The OUT Entrepreneur, to talk a bit about my endeavor.
If you’re interested in me coming to tell our story, please email me at VanessaVNichols@gmail.com.