Reece Okemaysim was solely 4 years outdated when she instructed her mom that she wished to be a girl.
Up till then, Reece, now 9, was raised as one among seven boys to their single mom, Rozanna Seeseequasis, in Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.
“When she began popping out at 4 years outdated, she began taking part in with her auntie’s purses and excessive heels and wanting make-up,” stated Seeseequasis.
“I did not discourage her by saying, ‘You may’t play with that,'” she stated.
Reece additionally made her personal clothes decisions.
“She determined simply on her personal to put on pink and she or he received to decide on on her personal what to put on,” Seeseequasis stated.
“I did educate her concerning the ribbon skirt,” that are historically worn to Indigenous ceremonies and signify power and womanhood, she stated. “Now she likes to put on ribbon skirts.”
Reece instructed CBC concerning the first time she remembers eager to be known as a girl.
“I used to be at my auntie’s, and I used to be like 4,” she stated.
“She had a lot of handbags, and I wore a bunch of sneakers,” stated Reece, who spoke with CBC by cellphone.
Her mom stated earlier than her daughter received on the cellphone for the interview, Reece bumped into the washroom and placed on lipstick and re-did her hair.
Seeseequasis knew the best way to elevate boys, she says, however as a result of she was not a lot of a “girly girl” herself, her daughter needed to go to her aunt’s home to play with make-up and gown up.
Reece does each her personal make-up, and her mom’s, and is all the time seeking to social media for brand new make-up concepts.
“She’s getting higher at it,” stated Seeseequaisis.
The household group of Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation, about 80 kilometres north of Saskatoon, was residence to Saskatchewan’s first two-spirit Satisfaction pageant in 2016.
“She was grand marshal for the Satisfaction parade in Beardy’s. She was six,” Reece’s mom instructed CBC.
“She had her personal automotive to choose her up and drive her round, and so they gave her cash to purchase a new gown.”
Reece stated she likes sporting attire and wigs, however generally feels shy about all the eye she will get for being who she is.
Neighborhood members and the individuals at Reece’s college are supportive, Seeseequasis stated, and no one sees Reece as a boy.
“Everyone sees her exactly as a girl.”
Considerations flip to assist
That wasn’t all the time the case, nonetheless.
“My grandmother wasn’t actually accepting of shopping for Reece ladies’ garments or calling her a girl.… She did not actually settle for it at first,” stated Seeseequasis, who thinks her grandmother was not supportive at first due to the best way she was raised in residential college.
“They needed to be a sure method, reside a sure method. Something that was totally different wasn’t proper.”
Suzanne Seeseequasis is Reece’s chapan — great-grandmother in Cree. She acknowledges that when she discovered her great-grandchild wished to be addressed as a girl, she was nervous.
“I had combined emotions. I did not know … [Reece] wished to be that method, so I simply let it’s,” stated Suzanne, who has a mild voice and laughs simply.
As a baby, Reece “wished to be grabbing mother’s make-up within the washroom, placing on make-up and sporting fancy garments,” she says.
The good-grandmother stated that she felt afraid for Reece’s future due to the stigma and violence that may observe transgender individuals all through their lives.
“That is on my thoughts, and I get scared for [Reece],” stated Suzanne, who was involved some individuals would not perceive, and would really feel her great-grandchild was “not alleged to be that method.”
“When [Reece] grows up, what will occur?… That’s all the time on my thoughts.”
Suzanne Seeseequasis is a survivor of St. Michael’s Indian Residential Faculty in Duck Lake, Sask. She stated that her technology by no means heard about two-spirited or LGBTQ individuals.
“It was like, ‘You may’t discuss that. It is not the suitable method,’ as a result of the nuns and the monks observe ‘the best way it is alleged to be,'” she stated.
Seeseequasis has since modified her views on Reece’s identity after studying that there have been all the time two-spirit individuals in Indigenous societies.
“We did have two-spirited individuals in our tribes,” stated Reece’s mom. “When [Suzanne] heard that, she was like, ‘Oh OK.… And now, that’s her excellent child,” she stated.
“It is wonderful to see how she modified for her great-granddaughter.”
New York modelling present delayed by COVID
Reece additionally got here very shut to creating her modelling debut in New York — however that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seeseequasis stated she noticed a name early final 12 months for fashions for a two-spirit style present that was scheduled to occur in New York, organized by B.C. designer Jill Setah.
“I requested if there was an age restrict, as a result of their earlier exhibits had youthful ladies,” stated Seeseequasis. The designer requested to see a video of Reece strolling.
“She noticed it and she or he stated, ‘I would like Reece. I want Reece.”
Nonetheless, COVID delayed the deliberate style present.
“It was going to be my first time on the aircraft and going to a massive metropolis,” stated Reece.
As for the longer term, when requested what she desires to be when she grows up, Reece would not hesitate.
“A police officer, as a result of I can cease the dangerous individuals being imply to individuals.”
Reece’s mom stated that she tries to not get in her daughter’s method.
“I simply let her choose what she desires to be. Reece is a actual massive diva.”
Seeseequasis just lately shared Reece’s story on a Fb group group devoted to make-up, known as Indigenous Cake Faces. The submit obtained dozens of encouraging messages.
“As a fellow queer child, thanks for supporting and loving Reece,” stated Shayla Jilleen Sayer-Brabant from Regina.
“I really like all of the supportive mothers. It simply made me cry,” stated Seeseequasis.
“I noticed a number of the mothers my age, a few of them aren’t supporting. I did not wish to try this to my child,” she stated.
“When she’s sitting with me, she says, ‘Oh, I simply love you, mother. I would like be a mother identical to you.'”
Seeseequasis stated that as a younger individual she was typically judged and instructed that she couldn’t do sure issues.
“I would like my youngsters to really feel like nothing can stand of their method, and they are often no matter they need — and simply be who they need.”
When requested about what future needs she has for Reece, she says one phrase: