Trans Chicagoans find joy in family, more bad air likely and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is about an eight-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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LX Song leans on Jessica and Harper at their home on the North Side.

LX Song leans on Jessica and Harper leans on her at their home on the North Side.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Good afternoon, Chicago. ✶

What makes a family?

I’ve been thinking about that question after reading Violet Miller’s story on trans Chicagoans and their families, which hit home for me as a transgender woman.

Being trans can feel scary and isolating, especially amid legislative attacks on gender-affirming care. Many of my trans friends have strained relationships with their biological parents, if they’re in contact at all. Then there’s the constant fear of harassment or worse, even in a city with a large LGBTQ+ community like Chicago.

Finding a community of trans people was one of the things that brought me to Chicago. And although I have a good relationship with my biological family, I’ve found another, chosen family here — partners, friends, neighbors — who care for and support each other.

I hope you get to spend time with your family — whatever that looks like — this weekend.

Here’s some news to catch up on in the meantime.

⏱️: A 7-minute read

— Ellery Jones, audience engagement specialist (@elleryrjones)


‘A magic life’: Trans Chicagoans find joy in finding and starting families ‘in spite of’ tribulations

Reporting by Violet Miller

Meet Harper’s family: Jessica Gorden-Song, who is 8-year-old Harper’s mom, and LX Song, Harper’s stepparent, are both transgender. They are among nearly 30% of Illinois’ LGBTQ+ population who have children — putting the state above half the country in LGBTQ+ parenthood, according to 2019 data from the University of California’s LGBT Data and Demographics Project.

Legal challenges: States increasingly have targeted trans people, especially trans youth and their parents, through legislation. In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 2024 Republican presidential hopeful, signed a law reclassifying gender-affirming care as abuse, allowing the state to take custody of children who are receiving anything from gender-related therapy to puberty blockers.

Parents’ anxieties: “I have to watch the affection that I show my daughter, especially since a lot of people want to villainize trans people as these groomers or people who are horrible for children to be around,” Gorden-Song said through tears. “It does put an emotional stress on you when you can’t show that love like a cis family might in public.”



Rosa Escareño, Interim CEO of the Chicago Park District, speaks at a town hall meeting at Horner Park’s field house in March.

Chicago Park District Supt. Rosa Escareño.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times file



Jon Langford will perform at the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square.

Bill Phanelas Photo/Provided

🪕 Square Roots Festival


📍Lincoln between Montrose and Wilson

The festival returns with headliners Superchunk, Real Estate, Momma, Lala Lala, Slow Pulp, Divino Nino, Eleventh Dream Day, plus Jon Langford and Sally Timms, Squirrel Flower, Gabacho, Los Vicios de Papa and more.

Admission: $5-20 suggested donation

🖼️ Southport Art Fest

Saturday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.

📍 Waveland and Southport

You’re sure to get your fine art fix at this Wrigleyville fest. Southport will be lined with everything from paintings to jewelry to sculptures by local artists.

Admission: Free

🍔 Roscoe Village Burger Fest

Friday, 5–10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

📍2000 West Belmonty

Meat eaters rejoice for this small but mighty carnivorous carnival on the North Side. Roscoe Village Burger Fest brings together nearly a dozen burger and hot dog joints for a mouthwatering day.

Admission: $10 suggested donation

🎛️ Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic

Saturday, 8 a.m.–10 p.m.

📍Jackson Park, 63rd Street and Hayes Drive

An event dedicated to house music, the lineup includes Chosen Few DJs Wayne Williams, Tony Hatchett, Alan King, Andre Hatchett, Terry Hunter, Mike Dunn and guest DJs.

Admission: $60+

🎸 West Fest Chicago

Friday, 5–10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon–10 p.m.

📍Chicago between Wood and Damen

West Fest is all about that bass. House DJ Derrick Carter returns for his 15th time at the festival, and breakbeat producer Nikki Nair brings his frenzied techno.

Admission: $10 suggested donation



A northern sunfish photographed by Matthew Ignoffo in the Kankakee River basin.

Matthew Ignoffo/Provided

Tracking the mysterious, striking northern sunfish

Reporting by Dale Bowman

This one is both bright and colorful.

Northern sunfish and longear sunfish look like aquarium fish. But they’re natives to Illinois, albeit ones in a state of flux.

Until a few days ago, outdoors columnist Dale Bowman had not heard of northern sunfish. Then Matthew Ignoffo posted about catching some over the weekend.

“I honestly didn’t even know they occurred around here. They have to be in the conversation for prettiest fish anywhere,” he said.

Bowman thought the same and reached out.

“I was in a headwater creek in the lower reaches of the Kankakee River watershed,” he replied. “I love creeks, so I often wade less-traveled stretches, photographing native fish and mussels.

He “was using an ultralight setup, hoping to get some later season colored-up hornyhead chubs, and I ran into the northern sunfish, to my surprise. They hit a tiny 1/64th-ounce jig with shreds of a Gulp! Minnow.”

That led Bowman on a colorful path, beginning with making sure it was northern sunfish.



What are your favorite family activities when it’s hot out?

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Editor: Satchel Price

Newsletter reporter: Ellery Jones

Copy editor: Angie Myers

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