Katherine Thompson: Flexing for Trans Youth

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Katherine Thompson says that the Bay Area culture is providing the kind of uplifting empathy and support for trans youth that others do not.

Five years ago, when she was a highschooler at St. Ignatius in San Francisco, my daughter came out as trans. I learned fast about what it takes for trans people to thrive their way through inequity, ignorance and violence. Systems of race and poverty intensify their struggles.

I also learned that being trans is an exquisite miracle of human variation.

I’ve been so awestruck that my daughter once teased, “Are you flexing on me, Mom?”

And I have a new appreciation for the exquisite miracle of the Bay Area, with its world-class health systems for gender-affirming care, advocacies like the Transgender Law Center, and the groundbreaking work of businesses, schools, governments and the faith community.


At the same time, our family is seeing terrifying things. The week that our daughter was accepted to graduate school, using the platform of a major political conference, a right-wing influencer called for the eradication of transgenderism from public life. We don’t talk about these things as much as you would think we would.

The election-cycle scapegoating is heating up again. So I seek comfort in the relative safety of California, in communities of allies, and in San Francisco’s trans-inclusive churches. The Bay Area nurtures an entire spectrum of spectacular people.

I have always loved this place for its mind-blowing beauty, innovation and culture. And recently, I’ve wondered that if by helping trans people thrive, our home of eight million is incubating something even more important: the collective empathy essential for the equity that the trans community – and the world at large – so desperately needs.

So yes, Honey, I’m flexing on you, and our Bay Area home, as it flexes its empathy muscle for the work ahead.

With a Perspective, I’m Katherine Thompson.


Katherine Thompson is a philanthropy executive serving as the Chief Development and Communications Officer at Grace Cathedral.