Often it’s the unexpected things in life that have the biggest impact on showing us how strong we truly are. For Amy Wasvick, owner of The Healing Arts Revolution, this happened when her youngest of two children was 1 1/2 years old.
“We began to notice he had a strong preference for clothes geared toward girls,” she said. “Because he was so young, we thought nothing of it.”
But as time went on, she and her husband noticed conversations between her son and his older sister revealed he indeed did not resonate with being male. The longer they listened, the more they became concerned.
“I found myself confused and worried how such a young child would want to harm their body and feel this way about their gender,” she said. “I had no idea who to talk to, so I reached out to our pediatrician.”
Amy recalls waiting in the doctor’s office, a nervous wreck not knowing how to start “that” conversation. She shared her concerns, shed many tears and accepted the facts. Her son has gender dysphoria.
Parenting any child comes with its own set of fears (albeit sometimes irrational), but parenting a child with dysphoria comes with its own set of fears backed by some hard statistics.
“I learned that people who experience gender dysphoria have an extremely high rate of suicide. All I could think about is how someday I could lose my child without the proper support,” Amy said.
It started with weekly counseling, giving not only her child a place to open up and feel understood, but also a place where Amy herself could find understanding so she can be a supportive parent. But she still felt there was more that needed to be done.
So her and her husband put all their savings into building a safe space for families like them.
“I envisioned a place free from judgment regardless of gender identity, expression, sexual orientation, race, religion or ability,” she said.
Today The Healing Arts Revolution continues to be that inclusive, safe space where individuals of all ages in our community can access healing services, such as therapeutic massages as well as gather and learn through classes and workshops. For Amy, it was that connecting piece to LGBTQ+ resources that took her and her family years to find.
How have you seen your business impact people?
The messages I receive from people tell me we have made an impact since building our space. This is a huge start in how our community can keep our LGBTQ kids safe, by supporting organizations that support human rights. The more we crowd out the negativity, the more we will create safe spaces for everyone.
What do you feel is the most important role of being a parent?
My most important role as a parent has been leading by example. I do this by showing compassion, acceptance and kindness in each step I take.
How about the most rewarding?
The most rewarding was to see how our kids mirrored those exact things when we rescued our dog. I’m not saying that a 100-pound dog is right for every household, but Bruno was the magic formula for us.
What has been the most challenging aspect of parenting so far?
Realizing that even showing my support to the fullest, my child still needs outside support. Even with all the guidance we’ve provided, it still took three years for our child to feel safe to use different pronouns.
How did your customers react when you started your new business?
Some of the funniest and most beautiful moments in my 14 years of being a licensed massage therapist have been when I shared with my clients why I was creating my new business and relocating. Most of them were a bit nervous and they would say “I’m straight and married and I fully support what you are doing; am I able to still see you for a massage?” My response was always, “Absolutely” and they would take the deepest sigh of relief. I lost clients, however, I gained so much. I was more than okay with it because I am proud of my practice and studio being inclusive to allies and the LGBTQ community.
How has that openness with clients impacted you and your business?
Sharing our family’s story with my clients deepened my relationship with them in the most unexpected way. It felt like a door unlocked because they now know they can share anything with me free of judgment and vice versa.
What is the most important thing you hope your kids learn from you?
I want my children to know I’m proud and love them unconditionally. For me, this journey has been about finding my own strength and accepting things I may not understand and finding the tools to help our family and others. Most of all, we thank our family, friends and community for their amazing support.
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