In the latest episode of IN THE LIFE, the first national LGBT-issue oriented television program brings the lives of transgender youth and their families into focus. The episode, titled “Becoming Me” and running just under twenty-eight minutes, highlights the stories of eight transgender and gender non-conforming young people and the diverse ways they have come to embrace their gender identities and expressions. Attention is also given to each individual’s parents, all of whom find ways to support their children and foster their development into happy, healthy adults. Between the stories, mental health professionals, physicians, and researchers comment on various aspects of transgender experience.
The parents in these narratives offer refreshing insight and attitudes toward children’s gender non-conforming behavior. Sarah, the mother of 5-year-old Jake who socially transitioned to live as a boy, discusses how she and her husband Yuri remain open to Jake’s gender expression, saying, “I think our approach is just not to box him in. There are boys that like dolls, and there are girls that like boy things. He’s a kid. Let’s just let him be a kid.” She adds, “Jake really had a hard time, he was very embarrassed about how he felt. And so it took a lot to kind of let him know, you know, ‘this is okay, and the people that are important are still going to be there for you, and still love you.’”
Catherine Hyde, who now leads her local PFLAG support group and facilitates cultural trainings on gender non-conformity, had a harder time accepting her child coming out as trans. Catherine’s 18-year-old daughter, Will, identifies as a transgender woman. Speaking about Will’s childhood and her decision to discourage gender non-conforming behavior, Catherine says, “Looking back, I think this was so the wrong thing to do, I think it really just shamed this child.” Eventually, Catherine became more informed about transgender issues and supported Will in her transition. Will says, “Things started to change when my mom offered hormone blockers… I started becoming just more and more ‘me.’ It felt finally like I could just breathe, I didn’t have to hold my breath anymore. It was just a great feeling, I could just relax into my own skin.”
At the end of the episode, Catherine reflects on her experience as the parent of a gender non-conforming child, saying, “I think what we need to do with our kids is let them be who they are and walk with them on this journey. If it is a phase, it will end. If it is not a phase, it will not. And we don’t make that call – the child will make that call.” In The Life Media received a GLAAD Media Award this year in Outstanding Digital Journalism –Multimedia for the Web exclusive short, “Injustice At Every Turn,” which offers real life stories that reflect the findings of the ground breaking study of the same name conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. GLAAD applauds In The Life Media for their ongoing work in addressing transgender issues, and we encourage everyone to watch the “Becoming Me” episode of IN THE LIFE. The full episode is available to watch online.