Advocate Debi Jackson's transgender 7-year-old, Avery, shares her story

Avery Jackson, a transgender 7-year-old from Kansas, has gained national attention for a video diary released by her family. In the video, Avery talks about her life, detailing her involvement in activities such as Girl Scouts and gymnastics, and iterating that she's "just a normal girl."

The Jackson family is used to the spotlight. Debi Jackson, Avery's mother, is an advocate for LGBT youth, using her family's experience to spread awareness and acceptance of trans children. In 2014, a speech given by Debi went viral, gaining over 500,000 views. The speech, given at Unity Temple in Kansas City, ends with Debi listing hurtful comments she frequently hears when people learn that her daughter is transgender. A self-identified "conservative, Southern-Baptists, republican from Alabama," she closed her speech by saying, "My God taught us to love one another. My daughter is a girl in her heart. She knows it. God knows it. And that's good enough for me."

Avery's video caught the attention of a New York Time's blogger, who featured it in the new section, "Transgender Today," a part of the Opinion Pages. Below the video, the site included a letter written by Avery's father, Tom. In his essay, Tom talks about the family's decision to allow Avery to transition and their love for their daughter "without preconditions."

GLAAD had talked to Debi Jackson for the video series, GLAAD: All Access. Interviewed by host Claire Pires while at the Human Rights Campaign "Time to Thrive" conference, Debi talked about how she came to support her daughter and become an ally and advocate. Jackson talked about the changes she saw in her daughter after Avery was allowed to transition, saying: "she was sunshine and sparkles."

In her video, Avery talks about the anxiety she experienced before telling her parents that she was a girl. She says, "…I was afraid to tell my mom and dad because I thought they would not love me anymore and they would throw me out and stop giving me any food or anything." Family rejection is a leading cause of homelessness for LGBT youth, who make up 20-40% of the homeless youth population. Having an accepting and supportive family is essential for the wellbeing of transgender children and adults, lowering the risk for drug use, HIV, depression, and suicide attempts.

Avery is a great example of how much a transgender child can flourish when allowed to transition and when supported by their family.