An eight-year-old transgender Winnipegger is getting encouragement from people across Canada after she and her family said they were bullied by a classmate's parent.
Classmates and complete strangers have taken to social media with Twitter hashtags like #Pink4Bella — and photos featuring lots of pink — in support of Isabella Burgos, who was born a boy but transitioned over the summer.
The Grade 3 student has also received letters and cards from people across Canada who are proud of her for speaking out against incidents involving a parent at Joseph Teres School.
On Friday, she said she wants the experience to turn into a positive one.
"I want the whole school to learn about transgender," she told CBC News.
Isabella said she was waiting for her brother at school a few weeks ago when a parent picking up her own child told her she could not use the girls' washroom.
Her mother, Izzy Burgos, said the same woman has confronted her as well as her older son and Isabella again.
Dale Burgos, Isabella's father, has contacted police about the bullying incidents and said the River East Transcona School Division has not done enough to protect the family.
The River East Transcona School Division confirmed on Thursday that the woman, a parent of one of Isabella's friends, has been spoken to about her comments to the Burgos family.
'Children do have identities'
Damien Leggett and Spencer Lowes remember all too well what growing up transgender was like.
Lowes transitioned a year ago but, like Isabella, he knew who he really wanted to be at a young age.
"I wanted to start Grade 2 as a boy, and for me that meant just wearing a suit and showing up and being, like, 'This is my name now!'" he recalled.
Lowes said he has found acceptance from his family and at his university, and he said Isabella's school division should be doing the same for her.
"Trans kids and trans people in general are just like everybody else. Their struggles are just a little bit different," he said.
Leggett said he was angry as a teenager and used to cut himself because he couldn't talk about how he felt at school or at home.
"I definitely felt like a boy for sure, but I didn't have language for what a boy is if you have a female body," he said.
"Children do have identities and bodies that they identify with, or parts that they don't identify with. That's a fact," he added.
"So robbing them of that experience, I think, is actually much more detrimental."
Leggett said he believes Isabella's experience will be different, given the support she has received from people to date.