Motherhood

‘My Child Is Transgender’

My Child is Transgender

Grace always felt her daughter was different from other girls. She refused to wear dresses, insisted on short hair and played with what people considered ‘boys’ toys.’ But one evening, she put her toothbrush down in the bathroom and turned to her mother. “Mom,” she said. “I don’t know what to do. I’m a boy and everyone thinks I’m a girl.” Here, Grace shares the inspiring journey of her son, Eli, who is transgender…


Early Years

Ever since he was a baby, my child rejected anything “girly.” He played with what people think of as boys’ toys and played sports with boys in the neighborhood. If he did imaginative play, he was always the brother or the dog — basically anything but the mom or sister. When he first starting talking, he would say, “Call me snowman.” And we’d say, that’s quirky and weird, but now we look back and see that he was telling us from such a young age that he was a boy. He just didn’t have the language around it.

By the time he was two or three, if I tried to put him in a dress, he would lose his mind. He would scream and go bananas, as if we were actually hurting him. It was beyond a normal tantrum. My husband and I would talk and say, what is going on? We knew something was up. From then on, we dressed him in more gender-neutral clothes from the girls’ department.

Our First Talk

When he was eight, we were in the bathroom together; he was brushing his teeth and getting ready for bed. We were talking about getting older; I started talking about how he would develop like a girl and what that would feel like for him. And he turned to me and said, “I don’t know what to do. I’m a boy and everyone thinks I’m a girl.”

The gist of my reply was, I don’t know what we’re going to do about this, but we’re going to figure it out. He said, “Are you ever going to make me wear a dress again?’ and I said, “No, I won’t.” He said, “It was Uncle Anthony’s birthday party.” He was remembering a time when he was four — four years prior. I realized what an impression that must have made; it must have been so painful for him. And he said, “Can I wear boys’ clothes and boxers from the boy’s department? Can I cut my hair shorter?” He had always had short hair but not an actual boy’s cut from the barber. We changed all that.

Back when he was about five or six, I had gone through a phase — I called it my “girl power campaign.” Because I was like, what am I doing wrong that I’m not making this child happy to be a girl? I’m obviously not getting the message across that girls can be and do anything. So, I’d buy books about powerful women and girls being president. I was like, come on, get on board here! I’d say, you can be the kind of girl who wears boys’ clothes, and that’s fine; and you can like girls and marry a girl, and that’s fine. And when he was eight, he was like, I know I could be that way, but that’s not me.

Parents’ Perspective

My husband came to terms with it more quickly, but I had a harder time. I had a few months of really being so sad, where I felt like there was a mountain to climb that I didn’t know how to climb. You don’t even realize how gendered your thoughts are about your kids until something like this happens. I wasn’t the girl dreaming of a white wedding and going to the mall for a mani/pedi, but I had a daughter and loved having a daughter and had thoughts and feelings about that. It felt like I was losing something. You pick a name for your child and that goes away. What I would do is look at him and think, it’s the same kid. My child is still there. Nothing about this kid is going to change. We’re going to be okay with this.

Identifying as a Boy

After the conversation when he was eight, we didn’t socially transition him right away — he continued using his girl name and female pronouns — but he essentially lived as a boy. If we were out at a restaurant or store, he’d use the boy’s room because everyone thought of him as a boy. I found a therapist for him because he was eight and he was little. This was all pre-anyone talking about transgender stuff. I was trying to figure it out and making sure it wasn’t just, “I want to be like my brother,” or a phase. Was this something he’d grow out of? But in my heart of hearts, it all made sense.

When he was nine or so, I remember thinking, puberty is coming and I need to figure this out. So, I found a support group in New York City called the Gender & Family Project. What’s good about the way they do their program is that parents meet together in one room and the kids meet together in another room. He was able to be “he” in a space, and he could try on the name “Eli” and see how it felt, and he met other kids who had transitioned. They were regular, happy kids who had a life and were just trans kids. Those two factors really helped him to feel like he was ready to transition.

Now that I know a lot of trans kids and families, I’ve noticed something: When you’re assigned female at birth but you wear boy’s clothes, it’s okay. People not only accept it, they actually think it’s cool — he was celebrated as a little girl who hung with the boys and played ice hockey. But for children who are assigned male at birth who want to identify as female, it seems harder for them in those early times. I think it may result in them transitioning earlier.

Transitioning

One day, when he was 10, he told us, “I’m ready to transition.” To choose a new name, he asked which boys’ names we had considered when I was pregnant. From that list, he picked Elias and we call him Eli.

He wanted to flip a switch and be called “Eli” and “he” and have everybody know. But our suburban town is politically mixed, and we didn’t know how it would go. I actually thought we might have to move. We picked a date on the calendar, and I worked very closely with his school in the weeks leading up. The school hired the Gender & Family Project to train their staff — his teachers, his gym teacher, the nurse, etc.; it was awesome. They also prepared a lesson for all the fifth graders. It was about identity in general (what are the components of you, how we are similar and different from each other, etc.) and at the end, they led into talking about Eli. We invited the parents of Eli’s friends and his hockey coaches and key people in our lives to our house and had the Gender & Family Project answer questions. Our approach was to try to get the grownups on board, and we were less worried about the kids since kids tend to be more naturally open.

We also sent out a Q&A sheet — to the fifth-grade families, our family, everybody. We tried to anticipate what kids and adults would ask. How does he know he’s a boy? Why does he feel this way? “He was born this way; Just like you were born knowing that you were a boy or girl, he just knew he was a boy.” Will he date or marry? Will he ever go back to being a girl? What about his body? “What is underneath our underwear for all people is something that is private. But you should know that being a boy or girl is really something that comes from your brain, not your body.”

I’m so glad to say that it worked out really well. His friends accepted him, he was never bullied. It’s actually unprecedented. These are families who might otherwise not have been so accepting, but they knew Eli from the time he was a baby. When you know someone, it changes your mind about things. People can see, he’s a regular kid! These are just normal children!

Body Changes

The thing that people still ask most about is Eli’s body. That seems to be the biggest fascination. He’s on a hormone blocker, which is a really nice option for a lot of trans kids. It’s like a pause button. It’s absolutely reversible. If we took him of the blocker, he would begin a healthy puberty as a girl. It just gives the kids a little more time to settle into themselves. Nowadays they do it with an implant in your arm. He’s had his for a year and a half. Eli says that he’d like to take male hormones; we’ll explore that in a few years.

Life Now

Eli was definitely happier after transitioning. His teachers would say to me, wow, he’s like a different kid. He’s so much more lighthearted and relaxed. I think he finally feels like he can be himself.

Our older son was 14 when we first started all these conversations with Eli. He said, that’s fine if she wants to be a boy, but she’s not going to be my brother or anything. But by the time Eli was ready to transition, his brother was super supportive. Some families struggle with how the trans kid ends up getting so much attention and focus, while the other kid gets lost in the shuffle. But we were lucky — my oldest son is an independent spirit and came through unscathed.

I wish people would know, the transgender community is not something to be scared of. It might not look the way we’ve always thought about people in terms of their gender and gender expression, but trans people and gender nonconforming people are just people — like you and your children and your friends. They are trying to live life in truth and happiness. Sometimes I think people miss out on understanding that.

My Biggest Surprise

What’s most surprising is how we’ve ended up feeling so lucky. We started out feeling like, this is kind of a disaster but we’ll manage it and figure it out. And now we feel so grateful. People say, oh, he’s so lucky to have you; but we feel so lucky to have him. We celebrate his trans identity. He’s changed our lives and community. He has opened up all our minds and hearts.

My Child is Transgender


Thank you so much for sharing your story, Grace and Eli! If you’d like to hear more from parents of transgender children, this podcast — How to Be a Girl — is great, and I loved this Moth episode.

P.S. How to talk to little girls, and teaching kids about sex.

(Top photo by Boris Jovanovic from Stocksy.)

  1. This story reminds me of my family’s two-decade long struggle while my brother was fighting to be himself. I wish I knew better and could be of more help. He fought this battle ever since I knew him as a little girl, all by himself. It took him almost 20 years. He is now a happy man with a happy family.

  2. What a truly incredible and inspiring story! And wow what an amazing mother she is!

  3. Kris says...

    Thank you for sharing your story. What a wonderful loving family you are.

  4. Em says...

    Bravo to the author and her son, bravo to COJ!

  5. Libertad Vera says...

    what a powerful story, Thanks for sharing.

  6. Alexandra H. says...

    Thank you, Cup of Jo Team! I do not have the words for how important this article is, but thank you for sharing it with your community and reinforcing that it is important to embrace.

    This may be too late (as I am just catching up on the blog) – but I wanted to share about the work of Dr. Kristina Olson at the University of Washington. Dr. Olson and team are currently leading the first large-scale, national, longitudinal study of development in gender nonconforming, transgender, and gender variant youth . You can learn more about her work here: https://depts.washington.edu/transyp/. In fact, her study was just featured in The NYT’s article “Raising A Transgender Child” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/well/family/raising-a-transgender-child.html.

    She is an amazing advocate and ally in this conversation. I have the privilege of fundraising on behalf of her important work. Thank you again for discussing such an important piece with grace and care.

    Best,
    Alex

  7. Katrina says...

    So honest and open. Thank you for sharing your story <3.

  8. Sarah says...

    Thank you for this post. My son is nine and is also transgender. I relate so much to everything that was written, especially about what a gift this child is. It is also so wonderful to be able to read the comments and feel so supported!

  9. Danielle says...

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. My hope is that people will learn to accept transgender people as people, just as they are. I hope we continue to grow and learn as a society so trans people suffer less because of ignorance. Our differences make us stronger.

  10. t says...

    Thank you with all my heart for this. The timing is perfect because on Sunday my nearly 4 year old announced that he is a girl after preferring to wear dresses for the last two years. We love and support him but had privately hoped it was just a phase, which it no longer looks to be. I know he will be just fine in our loving family regardless of his gender and will continue to support his evolution. I will, however, secretly grieve the loss of my baby boy.

    Thank you for sharing your story Grace and Eli and thank you to Cup of Jo for spreading love and acceptance.

    • Kristy says...

      Sending you love. There is nothing wrong with being transgender, but I do recognize the hardships that lie ahead of her (heck there are already hardships when you’re born female and identify as female!) I hope one day being born transgender is regarded without fanfare.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      T, you might enjoy this podcast, about a (very supportive) mother coming to terms with her child transitioning, and the emotions around that: https://themoth.org/storytellers/catherine-cross

  11. Stephanie says...

    Joanna, thank you. This was beautiful to read as a human, as a queer person, as a friend of many trans folks, as a trans health researcher. I do want to point out, kindly and respectfully, that this is not the experience of many trans youth. Many have parents who are not accepting, who cannot afford to work with the schools, who do not understand, who do not create a safe space for exploring gender and identity. Many trans youth are bullied, harmed, and cast into the streets. This is why LGBT youth experience high rates of homelessness, as well as mental and physical illness related to trauma. I hope that we are turning to these kinds of stories, but the reality is that trans youth, trans kids of color, and young trans women especially (this mother made that point) often have negative experiences related to their exploration of gender. I hope stories such as these can help bring awareness and understanding to the cisgender (non trans) community. Donating to organizations like The Trevor Project, which works with LGBT youth, is a great place to start :)

  12. Jessika says...

    Thank you! Beautiful and moving and inspiring. We can all learn from stories like this!

  13. Anna says...

    This is wonderful. Thank you so much!

  14. Emma says...

    Thank you so much for posting, I have been so moved by this beautiful story.

  15. Kasi says...

    Ugh, such a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I think I need a little symbol next to all Cup of Jo articles to convey to me “Warning, this will make you sob at your desk- read at home!”

  16. becca says...

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!

  17. kyle says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story.

  18. Fantastic! I wish Eli and his family all the happiness in the world!

  19. Thank you for addressing important issues in such a compassionate, humane way.

  20. keri says...

    Thank you for posting this. This was beautifully written and I commend this family for turning something that must have been challenging into something so positive. Eli sounds like an amazing and enlightened young man – how sweet that he asked what boy names you considered!

  21. PB in PDX says...

    Thank you for sharing your story. I enjoy reading how others have supported their kids in transitioning. My daughter realized at 16 that she was transgender and went through the process of transitioning at that age. I had the primary role in helping her transition and managed to get her through all of the therapy/medical/legal processes even while putting myself through grad school as a single mom. (So, if I could do it, anyone could!) Extended family was supportive as was her older brother and dad. She also had a small close-knit group of friends who were invaluable in this process, encouraging her to make the leap and go by her new name. Transitioning as a teen meant that she had already gone through puberty and went directly to hormone therapy, taking female hormones.

    One of the hard things with helping an older child transition is what you do when you remember their past. It takes “rewiring” your whole brain to remember to use the new pronoun, especially when referring to their younger selves. Yet it is vitally important to make the effort to do so in order to show that you respect their identity. She showed a lot of patience with us while we learned to remember to use her new name and pronoun. Even today, if I’m thinking back to an old memory, I have to “resave it” with her new name!

    It is interesting to think back to her young childhood years and how she always refused haircuts, letting her hair grow long down her back, and how she never minded when people thought she was a girl. None of us–including her–had any idea she may have been in the early stages of recognizing that she was indeed female. We homeschooled for quite a few years and never held rigid gender roles in our home, so it may be that there was nothing to cause her to feel she had to consider her gender. In so many other ways she had been what people who don’t look past stereotypes might call “all boy”–very active, doing martial arts and weapon training including archery and then playing video games in her down time. She is a tomboy (girl? lol) by heart still and defies any stereotype you might put on her. She is an individual. She is happy. She is my daughter.

  22. Lesa says...

    I sat here literally weeping as I read this story! What a beautiful parent you are, and Eli is so gorgeous too! For your family to handle this in this way – you should be absolutely celebrated. Especially in this horribly difficult time with that *($&*$&@($* in the White House, we need to hold dear stories like yours. You’re right – there is nothing to fear! Why does the unknown scare people so much? If everyone knew a trans person, they too would think it was no big deal….he or she is just a person like everyone else. THANKS for sharing your beautiful story.

  23. miri says...

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you for posting this. It means more than you all can know.

  24. Amy says...

    This is a beautiful love story. Right out of college, I did a year of volunteer service and worked for an AIDS Foundation. I worked closely with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender clients. So many struggled so hard. That struggle was made even more difficult for many at home. They were rejected or abandoned or asked to change or leave. Many never had a home sanctuary where they could grow, feel safe and be accepted and loved. Their stories broke my heart every day. They left a big imprint on me. I remembered it when I became a mom, and I felt deeply that my children would grow up in a loving and supportive environment free to be. Amazing Grace has told an important and inspiring story. May she be a light for parents who are searching for an example. Love is always a great answer.

  25. Victoria says...

    This story reminds me of my family’s two-decade long struggle while my brother was fighting to be himself. I wish I knew better and could be of more help. He fought this battle ever since I knew him as a little girl, all by himself. It took him almost 20 years. He is now a happy man with a happy family.

  26. Tian says...

    What a powerful story. Thank you for sharing. It opens my heart and my mind. Love is unconditional, especially that of a parent’s.

  27. Thank you so much for talking about this! Im suspecting that my 2 year old (phisically a boy) might turn up to be a girl. He loves girl gendered things and only wants to play with girls. He tries on my make up, shoes and i have seen him hiding in the closet trying on my bras. It might be too early too tell, maybe he will be gay, idk.. He also loves trucks and boy things.. Perhaps this is all regular toddler behaviour, i dont really know he’s my first child.
    I would completely support him in whatever he grows up to be. I guess im just scared if he gets hurt or bullied…. I cant imagine what is like to see your kid suffer..
    Anyway, great story! You are an awesome mom and very lucky to have such a supportive community <3

  28. Theresa says...

    Thank you for sharing your family’s story. It was beautiful!

  29. Louisa says...

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  30. Mary says...

    This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!!

  31. Heather says...

    I love this story– thank you for sharing it!!

  32. Briel K. says...

    Thank you for sharing your story Grace and Eli! It was very moving to read about your journey.

  33. Tara says...

    Love this:)

  34. Thank you for posting this.

  35. Wow, I love this story. Thank you to the family for sharing.

  36. AB says...

    I feel so informed after reading this post. I am not a parent, but it’s just incredible how this family’s effort to help their kid navigate something so biological (like, say, if your kid has diabetes or something), worked out so well. Eli looks so happy in the picture with his mom. I really, truly hope more parents take this sort of action with getting schools, friends and wider communities on board. This is great reporting!

  37. All the beautiful emotions over this.

  38. Tunie says...

    Blown away, really, so impressed by how well you handled the community integration in his school (which sounds like an extraordinary one) and the neighborhood. Wow. Great job!

  39. Sheryl says...

    <3 <3 <3

  40. Cynthia says...

    Thank you for this post.

  41. joy says...

    i love this <3

  42. Imogen says...

    Thank you to Jo for posting this, and thank you so much to Grace for sharing your story so honestly. It was beautiful and heartwarming. Even if ignorance is given voice eloquently, this does not mean that what is being said is true. This story is neither sad, nor disappointing, nor harmful. It is illuminating, heartfelt, and inspiring, and I would like to thank Grace again for being such an amazing parent.

  43. Emma says...

    I used to occasionally click over to this blog for fashion posts and beauty tips, but recently, pieces like this have made Cup of Jo feel like my home on the internet. Thank you, so very much, to Grace and Eli, for sharing an honest account of your beautiful family. In a world that feels increasingly dark, we need these stories of caring and supportive communities to make us all feel less alone.

  44. Kate says...

    What a beautiful story. This family is incredible. Thank you for continuing to push the envelope on what’s normal. This story brought me to tears, it’s evident that Eli is loved by his family and community.

  45. Lindsay says...

    National Geographic is doing a terrific job of addressing the complexities of gender through their “Gender Revolution” series. The January magazine issue and the mini-doc that aired last night are tremendously informative. The 2-hour film is airing again on Friday at 9pm on National Geographic (check your local listings of course).

    You can find more info on Nat Geo’s website: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/gender-revolution-a-journey-with-katie-couric/videos/gender-revolution-a-journey-with-katie-couric1/

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, lindsay!

  46. Stephanie says...

    Hi there! I love Cup of Jo. It’s the one site I visit every day, without fail. I don’t usually comment, but felt moved to do so after reading this piece. It’s tough for me to read stories like this (and the recent one about abortion) and not cringe just a bit.

    I completely respect that this community is one filled with different backgrounds and beliefs, and I’m under no assumptions that everyone does/should agree with me. In fact, reading through the comments on this post are truly encouraging to me. So many of you are kind, thoughtful and considerate even when discussing tough subjects in disagreement. Where else can we find such grace online these days?

    Still, I’d love help understanding your perspective on these sensitive issues. With regards to transgender children, does this mindset (that girls wear dresses and play with dolls, etc) not simply reinforce gender constructs? And as for the recent post on abortion, it seems aborting a baby with disabilities actually decreases the dignity of disabled people.

    I guess my overall confusion, when it comes to these moral (to me) issues, is that the acceptance of a child transitioning genders and the aborting of a disabled baby seem to contradict other important goals. Does this ring true for anyone else? For those of you who see things differently than me, can you help me understand where you are coming from? TIA!

    • Nicole says...

      I appreciate the care you took to reach out a viewpoint you’re having difficulty understanding. Only through conversation can we come to a better understanding of opposing ideas.

      I’m not clear as to what exactly you’re asking – are you saying that transgender people inadvertently reinforce stereotypical gender roles when they transition and that this contradicts the goal of eliminating constrictive gender stereotypes? I think this is a common misconception.

      When someone is transgender, they don’t necessarily seek to be the most stereotypical representation of the gender they identify with. For instance, I know a transgender girl who dresses more masculine (tee shirts, jeans) and loves video games, but she identifies as a girl. It’s all about seeing gender on a spectrum rather than a binary. I am a cis female who also happens to love video games and depending on the day, I can either dress as a tomboy or more feminine. If I’m allowed flexibility in expressing my gender, then anyone who identifies as a woman should be allowed that same freedom. It really comes down to allowing people to be themselves and express their identities in whichever way they choose, as long as they’re not hurting anyone of course. Once you know someone who is transgender, the “issue” becomes more much humanistic and easy to understand. When it’s an abstract concept that threatens the way you’ve always seen the world, then I think it becomes easier to lump it into a category of moral objections.

      I think the abortion question is an entirely different issue that I’m having trouble articulating right now, but I guess what I can say is that lumping “disabled” into one category again forces us into another binary. I thank CupofJo for sharing individual stories of people who have been in the situations above to show readers that their decisions are not always easy and that they have come to an understanding of the world through experience and deliberate thought.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      These kind of respectful, compassionate, thoughtful discussions are why I love this community so, so, so much.

    • Jessica says...

      You have helped me restore my faith in humanity just a bit. I think we disagree, but I love how kind and respectful your comment was.

      Morals refers to a persons perceptions of right and wrong. While I understand that some people might disagree, I would argue that it would be immoral and unethical *not* to allow a person to make decisions about their own body, whether it be someone who feels they are stuck in the body of the wrong gender, or a woman who does not wish to, or feels they cannot, carry a baby to term.

      In the case of that pregnancy mentioned in the story you are referring too, the woman terminated the pregnancy because she believed that her child would lead a life of suffering if she did not. While I would certainly agree that aborting a baby with disabilities is a difficult subject, I not think this in any way decreases the dignity of disabled people. In this particular case, the mother made what she felt was the best (or really, only) choice for her child. There are certainly people in the world that believe that no child should be aborted, ever. This is a difficult concept for me, because whether or not it is immoral to abort a baby, I would also argue that it is immoral to force anyone to carry a baby to term. I deeply respect people that choose to proceed with their pregnancies and put their babies up for adoption if they are unable or unwilling to raise the child, however we might not comprehend the complex and numerous reasons why a woman would choose abortion: abuse at home, addiction that would prevent her from having a healthy pregnancy, poverty which might prevent her from having a healthy pregnancy, pressure (or abuse) from spouse/family if she did want to give the baby up for adoption, the mothers health issues, lack of resources, and many, many, many more.

      I would tend to agree that the mindset that girls wear dresses and play with would reinforce gender constructs, however I do not think that is what was being expressed in the article. Rather, it was about a child who strongly feels that he is in the wrong body, and the parents’ journey to learning to understand this. Permanently transitioning to a different gender at a young age is a serious and intimidating subject, and I’m not sure how I feel about it, either. However, having said that, I have never raised a child who felt they were trapped in the wrong body, so again, I have to trust that the child, the family and the doctors helping them will be able to determine what is best in each particular case.

    • Katie says...

      I felt compelled to respond here as well, particularly because this dialogue is so respectful and restores my faith in humanity! To me this highlights the importance of developing personal connections, either IRL or in online communities like COJ, to people who have had starkly different experiences than your own with subjects that remain taboo. This allows for you to see that these circumstances and choices and struggles are complex and never black and white. There is no better way to build empathy. Without knowing someone who is transgender it may seem like all transgender men were tomboys as women and made a choice that reinforces the stereotype that you must be a man to have a masculine side. As the sibling of a transgender man I can say that it is so much more nuanced than that. My brother didn’t display and overt obsession with “boyish” things as a child, but rather was so incredibly uncomfortable in his own body and skin to the point where he felt like an alien inhabiting someone else. Before his transition he was terribly embarrassed when it came to health class, using the restroom, going to the doctor, changing in front of others – all of this became so painful that he spiraled into a frightening depression before he hit puberty. It was only when he began seeing a therapist that we were even able to surface the fact that he could be transgender. The alleviation and restored sense of hope and lightness that he felt once he began transitioning can only be described as miraculous. It saved his life. Thank you, Joanna, for starting this important conversation.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a beautiful story, katie. thank you so, so much for sharing. xoxoxo

    • Stephanie says...

      Nicole, Jessica, Katie (and, of course, Joanna):

      Thank you all so much for your patient, thorough responses. You each have given me a lot to think about and helped me to remember that “issues” when seen through the lens of real people aren’t always as black as white as they might seem. I will be honest to say that, because of religious beliefs, I may not agree fully with you all on these topics. Still, I’m appreciative for the opportunity to understand better where others are coming from. So thank you again for sharing your stories, experience and knowledge with me!

  47. Marlene says...

    Awesome read. This is hands down, the best blog around. Keep up the great work COJ team.

  48. Judy says...

    Thank you for sharing this story CoJ. People…please open your minds and your hearts.

  49. Esther says...

    Wow, this made me tear up. What a beautiful post, so important. xxxx

  50. Ursula says...

    It breaks my heart to read some of the comments above. I think this is such a beautiful post. Thank you Cup of Jo for sharing posts like this. And thank you Grace and Eli, for being the people you are xx

  51. What a lovely post, thank you ♡

  52. Iris says...

    Thank you. Your story (and great example) will definitely help a number of people. I’m from Portugal and this is still a huge taboo here. I really hope things will significantly improve in the next years. I wish your boy a marvellous and full life.

  53. Heather. says...

    I’ve been thinking about this all day. Thank you to Grace for sharing her family’s story, especially knowing that some people will never understand. And thanks to the cup of Jo team for promoting love and acceptance.

  54. Michelle says...

    Thank you Grace, Eli, and Cup of Jo for sharing!

    I’ve been a reader for at least 5 years and am loving how this blog is evolving. From “Motherhood Around the World” to subtly introducing more women of color in your beauty and style posts, to stories about loss, transition, and other topics often kept in the dark — I feel like learning more about our world and fellow humans keeps me coming back even as my lipstick and boatneck tees are stocked up, y’know?

  55. Emily says...

    Thank you for this post! Beautiful reflection and I appreciated hearing your family’s story. The book The Gender Creative Child by Diane Ehrensaft may be of interest to other parents (or anyone!) looking to support their children.

    • Emily says...

      Another great book about transgender transitioning that is borderline YA and children’s lit is George by Alex Gino. During my final year of undergraduate school, it was recommended to me by one of my education professors. She said that if anyone seeks to pursue a career in education that they must read this book! I wholeheartedly agree.

  56. Jillian says...

    Grace – I loved reading your beautiful, honest story. I can only hope for a fraction of your bravery if I ever face a similar situation raising my two boys. What a wonderful example you’ve set for us all.

    Cup of Jo team – This blog has always been a wonderful place to celebrate women, equality, kindness, and, yes, cute clothing, delicious recipes, and makeup too :) But lately you’ve really knocked it out of the park. It can’t be easy (or maybe it is, I don’t know!) to always take a stand on certain politically sensitive issues. Either way, I really appreciate what you are doing. You always do it with grace and we could all use a little more of that lately! xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, jillian. that means so much, and i’ll read your comment to our team :)

  57. Wow, thank you for sharing!

  58. Lauren says...

    Grace & Eli- yours is such a heartwarming and inspiring story of love, and the ways we are all challenged to be brave and honest and to dig deeper for the kind of understanding that strengthens our families and our communities. Thank you for sharing your journey here!

  59. Sarah says...

    That was incredible!
    Sugh a brave and important story to share.
    Thank you so much:)

  60. Nicole says...

    I love the diversity of different perspectives on this site. Thank you.

  61. Nicole says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  62. heather says...

    This story is so moving. Thank you for sharing!

  63. Terry says...

    I was very moved by your story, Grace. It teaches us a lot. You knew that “it takes a village” to raise a child, and set out to inform that village. I feel how hard it must have been to let go of having a daughter, and embrace who your child is. Kudos to you, Eli, your family, and community. Love is the greatest force!

  64. Julie D says...

    Thank you a million for posting this beautiful piece. We need more voices like yours Joanna and COJ!

  65. C says...

    What a wonderful, happy family. Thank you for sharing.

  66. Kate says...

    What a wonderful story! So much beauty and kindness! I wish every trans kid was able to have this great of a transition. <3

  67. Lindsey says...

    Thanks for sharing. Sounds like Eli is quite lucky not only to have a supportive family, but a supportive community as well. This article and the vast majority of comments following it were a much-needed reminder of people’s kindness and empathy.

  68. Molly Brooks says...

    What a beautiful story. Thank you.

  69. Caitlin says...

    Beautiful. Brave. Lovely story. Now a committed follower of this blog.

  70. Beth says...

    Thank you for sharing your family’s story; it was truly touching. I was so moved by the actions of Eli’s school, and especially by the depth of your family’s love for one another.

  71. That is one beautiful and happy boy you have. You are an amazing Mother to Eli. He has an amazing Dad and brother too. God speed.

  72. Elisabeth says...

    What a great story. Great work, parents! And Eli, I hope you keep showing the world exactly who you are, because we need more confident and yet sensitive young men like you. :)

  73. Brielle says...

    Thank you so much for this beautiful story. In graduate school, my speech pathology program had a requirement that we learn how to provide voice therapy for people in transition ( primarily male to female). That experience definitely showed me thAt trans people are regular people with feelings and life experiences like the rest of us. Being trans is just one part of who they are. (I highly recommend George Washington University voice clinic for those in transition). Also, God bless his parents for loving and supporting him for who he is.

  74. Eva says...

    beautiful story. thank you for sharing—and for your honesty with the challenges you faced personally. it’s especially heartening to know there are services out there to help not just a family but a whole community learn to being accepting and supportive—and to see that community step up in this way!

  75. Ceciel says...

    Just so beautiful. As a parent of 3, living in a small town in Ohio, my heart is in solidarity with all parents of children who aren’t represented in the mainstream, especially those who are in small communities (not big cities where difference is represented in greater numbers). Bravo to Grace for finding the resources to support her and her family. Bravo to Eli for knowing himself and speaking up at an early age. Grace, you provided an environment in which he could do that. I am honored you shared your story.

  76. Marcy Levine says...

    I really admire this mother for seeking support and helping her child become who he is. He’s lucky to have such a loving family. I’m glad to see them all happy.

  77. Britt says...

    I used to be such a fan of this blog, read it daily and really looked forward to seeing new posts. It is so sad to see posts like this and how this blog has changed to push an agenda and I am SO sad to say I can’t be a reader anymore.

    • Liz says...

      It’s strange that you use the word ‘sad’. Is it truly sad to read about experiences that aren’t your own? I can think of a lot of words for that: interesting, provocative, challenging, uncomfortable, but sad…I don’t get it. Using your word choice then, it is sad to me that an entire political party is using the current administration to push their extreme agenda on the entire country. Works both ways, my friend. Many of us are trying to really hear what you and others like you have to say-and yes, what you have to say is extremely uncomfortable and provocative for me to hear-I wish you could extend the same courtesy.

    • Catie says...

      What, exactly, is the agenda here? Raising a happy, healthy child? What would you have done if this was your baby who came to you with this?

      My wish for every child is for them to have parents as open and loving as this author.

    • Lina says...

      This isn’t an agenda so much as a post presenting readers with expansive, diverse stories and viewpoints. Everyone has a right to dignity–one does not have to agree with everything or everyone to see the common humanity in people that are different from us. This post does that, it humanizes a segment of our society that is still stigmatized.

    • Katie C says...

      It makes ME sad that you feel this way:( The ‘motherhood’ posts celebrate families from all walks of life. I think that’s really beautiful and I applaud CupOfJo for doing that. If there’s any “agenda” happening here I’m pretty sure it’s just to spread the message of love and acceptance. My wish for you is that you could see it this way as well.

    • Elisabeth says...

      I find it so silly when commenters say that simply sharing a story about one family’s life is “pushing an agenda.” These are often the same people who talk about being “so tired of politics” when people share about the reality of living life as a woman, POC, Muslim (or really anyone non-Christian), LGBTQ+ individual. Privilege makes these topics seem “political” or like “pushing an agenda” — they don’t appear to utilize their empathy enough to understand that for many/most of us, these “issues” are our daily lives.

    • The other day I was telling a co-worker that my son refused to wear certain types of clothing. He hates anything that binds and will only wear non-zipper clothes. I went and bought him a ton of clothes and most were his preferred style but he ended up only liking two of them so I took the rest back. She said to me – well, you just force him. I was like “excuse me?” Her: “well you don’t buy anything else and he’ll have to wear it.” My response was “I have a lot more important things that I want to set boundaries on than what clothes HE has to wear, especially since he’s uncomfortable, why would I make my child uncomfortable for something so unimportant?” He wanted to wear girl’s underwear as a young child, I bought it. He had minnie mouse and tinkerbelle pjs, totally fine. He asked for a dress, I said ok and got it. He wore it for oh 30 minutes and never wore it again. I was fine if he did or didn’t. I would prefer my child love and accept himself however he is. The way that happens is for me to do the same for myself and for him AND for others. I, too, prefer to go to websites that support me in raising a confident, strong, loving, empathetic, amazing child. I listened to a town hall with one of my tea-bag senators and felt like vomiting the entire time…but I felt it was good to be informed how he thinks he is smarter than all his voters and will decide what is in our best interests not do what we ask. I love the Jo and her staff and the writers are willing to step out and expand my knowledge base because I can’t access every demographic out there. Am I even more thrilled I had mutual commiseration when HRC lost, or we attended the women’s march? yes, absolutely. Do I have friends who have privately talked to me how they are afraid to be as outspoken as I am because of their religion, or race, or sexual orientation? yes. I ache for them. I know I am privileged in being white and educated. I’m sorry you aren’t able to embrace all the differences around us with love or seeing that it can help you come to a greater understanding of others. I am very very grateful to this blog for sharing as they do.

    • t says...

      Britt, as a fellow reader I am sad that you will no longer be a reader but am lifted knowing that if ever someone you love comes to you struggling with their gender/sexuality/political beliefs/values/race/etc you can pull from your memory bank of the inclusive and loving stories you read on CoJ up until this point.

  78. Thanks for sharing! Would love to hear if you have any book recommendations with transgender protagonists. I’d prefer either fiction or memoir, just because I’m not much of a nonfiction reader, but would love to learn more about the trans community through reading!

    • Anna says...

      I haven’t read any books about transgender life, but I did recently watch a wonderful film with a transgender teenage actor in the lead role. It’s called “Boy Meets Girl” and was on Netflix. The lead actor herself was very inspiring and it was a lovely plot.

    • MFree says...

      Becoming Nicole by Amy Nutt is a fantastic book about the life of a transgender girl and her family.

    • Emily says...

      They’re kids books, but you could try George or Lily & Dunkin

    • Caitlin says...

      Oh my gosh I read The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey recently and it was excellent. It’s children’s fiction and a really good read.

    • Clau says...

      Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

    • Emily says...

      Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is a beautiful fictional novel with a young transgender protagonist

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, i loved middlesex. also i remember LOVING this movie when i was in my early twenties. it has been forever since i’ve seen it, but it’s about a transgender child: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_vie_en_rose

    • Morgan says...

      Middlesex is a brilliant novel dealing with gender identity. However, the protagonist is intersex not transgender.

    • Johanna says...

      She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan is excellent. It’s a memoir by a trans college professor, and one of the first books I read about trans issues (before eventually getting a bachelor’s degree in gender studies) and it has continued to resonate with me. I also love the novel Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian.

  79. Favi says...

    Thank you for posting this wonderful piece. Moved me to tears.

    • Michelle says...

      Me too, just beautiful :)

  80. Evel says...

    Thank you for this beautiful family and story. Truly amazing what love can do.

  81. Savannah says...

    Thank you for posting this.