Motivated by the case of a transgender child that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ( DCFS ) seized from an affirming home, members of the Chicago-based Trans Liberation Collective, the Chicago BTGNC Collective and the Chicago Two Spirit Society have organized themselves under the hashtag #StopStealingTransKids.
A press conference held in front of the DCFS Thompson Center offices in downtown Chicago April 14which representatives from the Trans Liberation Collective and the Chicago Two Spirit Society attendedwas the first of many promised actions designed to "bring awareness and voice to the plight of trans children and their families whose lives are constantly threatened by DCFS."
"We know that DCFS is not complying with their own guidelines," Trans Liberation Collective co-lead organizer Stephanie Skora said. "They are allowing malicious abusers to work around their system and steal trans children from loving and affirming families. We are here to tell them 'no more.' We will not allow DCFS to take trans children out of the arms of people that love them and place them in a foster care system which, all too often, leads them on a direct path to incarceration, homelessness and poverty."
"Trans children are not safe in foster care," she added. "Trans children are safe with loving and affirming families."
Skora asserted that DCFS actions against those families "constitutes a direct attack against trans children, the trans community and we will not stand for it."
"We believe that LGBTQ two spirit youth and their families should be able to live without worry, violence and trauma," Chicago Two Spirit Society President Reginald Sawyer said. "We stand here today against the forces of DCFS and all other forces of the state causing harm to transgender and gender nonconforming youth. As indigenous people, we are all too familiar with these tactics of abuse and violence from DCFS. Too often, our indigenous families are torn apart and our youth have suffered because of harmful policies. We will not let this go on any longer."
Trans Liberation Collective co-organizer Jacob Milhouse Record said they ( preferred pronoun ) spent some time in foster care as a child.
"I was very fortunate in that I was adopted before I realized I was trans," they said. "When I heard about this, I was horrified. We are destroying our children by doing this. It [violates] children's rights and their parent's rights."
Skora listed a series of demands which the organizations are presenting to DCFS.
"We are calling on DCFS to immediately launch an investigation into all cases where trans children are involved and ensure that there is no transphobia at work in these cases," she said. "We are calling on DCFS to immediately reconstitute their trans affirming and trans competence training and policies and ensure that these policies are reworked with input not only from members of the trans community but from parents of trans children who are also under attack. We will not go away and we will not let DCFS rest until we know that trans children are safe in their system like [DCFS] claims they already are but that we know are not. We will not rest until trans children are safe and until DCFS agrees to stop stealing trans children from their families."
For more information about the Trans Liberation Collective, visit Facebook.com/TransLiberationCollective. For more information about the Chicago Two Spirit Society, visit Facebook.com/chicagotwospirit .