Transcona square turns pink for 8-year-old transgender girl

Pink flamingos and balloons popped up in Transcona on Saturday in support of Isabella Burgos, an eight-year-old girl who recently spoke out about being transgender.

Pink 4 Bella shows support for Isabella Burgos and raises awareness of transgender issues

Isabella Burgos, right, stands with her parents and two of her brothers at Pink 4 Bella, an event raising awareness of transgender issues at Transcona Centennial Square on Saturday. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)

Pink flamingos and balloons popped up in Transcona on Saturday in support of Isabella Burgos, an eight-year-old girl who recently spoke out about being transgender.

About 50 people gathered at Transcona Centennial Square around midday for Pink 4 Bella, an event that also raised awareness of transgender issues.

Isabella was born a boy but transitioned over the summer and now identifies as a girl.

The Grade 3 student and her parents said they had to deal with bullying when she started the new school year as a girl.

Isabella said a classmate's parent told her she could not use the girls' washroom at school. The same woman also confronted her mother and brother, according to the family.

Eight-year-old Isabella Burgos is surrounded by balloons at the Pink 4 Bella event, which started at noon Saturday. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)
But since the family spoke out about their experience earlier this month, Isabella has received messages by mail and on social media from people commending her decision to talk publicly about her experience.

Family members said they are overwhelmed by the support and encouragement they have received from people as far away as the Netherlands and Japan.

"She just wants to be a girl like any other girl so, like, it's been stressful. It has been hard on our family," said William Perry McCafferty, Isabella's older brother.

"We're hoping for the best and reaching out and seeing all the support … we want to see a difference made."

Isabella is currently using a gender-neutral washroom at Joseph Teres School. Her parents said she was initially allowed to use the girls' washroom until the parent complained.

Her family has launched a human rights complaint against the River East Transcona School Division.

Isabella's parents said they have reached out to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission for help. Mediation with the school division is the next step, they added.

"It's not just about bathrooms, it's just about basic human rights," said Dale Burgos, her father.

"We don't segregate colours anymore, and this is just along the same line. It's about human rights."