A Philadelphia-based expert on gender-variant youth recently released her first book, and will give local audiences an insider’s view of her work.
Dr. Michele Angello, author of “On The Couch With Dr. Angello: A Guide to Raising & Supporting Transgender Youth,” will read from and speak about her new book from 6:30-8:30 p.m. June 12 at the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.
Angello, a clinical sexologist and gender specialist, has 14 years of experience working with transgender and gender non-conforming youth and their families. She is an adjunct professor at Widener University and has appeared on talk shows such as “Larry King Live” and “The Tyra Banks Show” to discuss issues regarding the transgender community.
Angello said she drew inspiration from the clients with whom she has worked.
“The primary inspiration was the families I work with and in particular with the children I have been working with the past 14 years,” she said. “They are the most inspirational people I have ever met in my life.”
Angello said it is especially satisfying to follow the families and the youth through their journeys of acceptance.
“The most rewarding thing has been seeing the amount of love that the family has for one another even when they struggle to understand and accept their children’s challenges as gender variant. Most patients have family that come around,” she said. “Beyond that, the most amazing thing is that these kids — as young as 3 years old — are coming in and, oftentimes, declaring who they are and what they need.”
There are, however, other situations in which a parent or caregiver refuses to stand by his or her child.
“Families typically come around and show their unconditional love for their children, but watching the parents or caregivers struggle with understanding or accepting their child and, in particular, those times when a parent just can’t — they don’t have the skills to accept them or they kick them out or emotionally abandon them — are heartbreaking,” she said.
Angello said she has been impressed with Philadelphia’s transgender and gender-variant movement, noting that the Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference continually offers a diverse and progressive range of topics.
“I think they have an incredible movement. What is most wonderful to see is how the community has organized this movement — it is filled with people who are just so ahead of the curve in Philly,” she said.
Angello’s book signing will coincide with the PTHC.
She said the conference is something that helps bring both visibility to the community as well as offers a welcoming and affirming environment.
“I think it has brought and continues to bring a safe space for people who are exploring gender identity and it allows for an increased level of visibility among mainstream non-transgender people,” she said. “A lot of times people show up to conferences because they heard a lot about it and their minds are just blown. It is powerful.”
Angello said her book is largely geared for those individuals who are not familiar with the transgender and gender nonconforming community.
“The goal for my book is to attempt to reach that exact audience. I attempted to write it in a way that anyone can pick it up, but especially a parent who found out yesterday that their child is gender-variant, and how they can support their child. It is not pathological; these kids risk everything to be authentic to themselves. It is my intention to make it accessible and to allow for people to see, even if they don’t know someone who has had trans experience, to understand what the experience is about and that it is not unusual.”
For more information, visit http://micheleangello.com/.