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Kansas City parents of trans, non-binary child discuss anti-trans bills in the Missouri legislature

Debi Jackson's child, Avery, became the victim of online harassment after becoming the first trans person to make the cover of National Geographic in 2016.
Debi Jackson
Debi Jackson with her child Avery. Debi and Tom Jackson believe political donations from organizations like the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom are at the root of the anti-trans legislation in Missouri and other states.

The parents of a trans, non-binary teen tell their story as lawmakers in Jefferson City work to pass a slew of anti-trans bills.

Debi and Tom Jackson's child, Avery, began a non-medical transition to female at the age of four. While the parents knew it was a young age for a child to be so certain they weren't the gender assigned to them at birth, Debi says it was "insistence, persistence and consistence" that brought them around.

Avery, now 15, uses they/them pronouns and identifies as non-binary.

Debi began educating herself — and then, people in her community — about transgender kids. But now, Missouri lawmakers are working to pass an array of bills that would target transgender kids, causing the Jackson family to feel unwelcome in their own state.

Debi believes the rhetoric coming out of Jefferson City about trans children and their families is extremely harmful.

"(They're) using words like 'pedophiles' and 'grooming' and 'mutilation,' and they use that inflamed rhetoric to attack doctors and parents," she says. "They have to take away our power as advocates and the best way to do that is to say we're child abusers."

Debi and Tom Jackson sat down with KCUR's Laura Ziegler to talk about raising a trans, non-binary teen and recent anti-trans legislation in the Missouri General Assembly.

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