- September 2, 2016
JR and his wife Vanessa have always been open about letting their children be who they are – and though they didn’t know it initially, they were also making an intuitive decision to fully support their transgender daughter.
JR noticed a change in Ellie when she was quite young and started asking about wearing nail polish and dresses to preschool. It wasn’t long before Ellie shared with her parents about how she truly felt on the inside.
“Right after her fourth birthday party that she said, ‘I’m a girl.’” JR recalled. “It wasn’t a mourning of what we perceived as our son, it was more of a ‘how do we support our daughter moving forward?’ Once she was able to tell us who she was, her personality and her demeanor did a 180. She completely blossomed.”
Despite having a happy-go-lucky five-year-old at home, JR worries about Ellie’s safety as she gets older. He discusses the importance of educating people, particularly school administrators and staff, about being accepting of and open to all people.
“It just presents another perspective to a person when they can associate a human being with an issue,” JR said. “To have Ellie kind of as a beacon in our family is really helpful for making our family tighter, making her community around her tighter. Every kid is different. Every kid is unique. It’s just for us to accept them and support them in every way. Listen to your kid.”
While JR and his family have become a vocal advocates for transgender youth, many LGBTQ young people lack crucial support from their families, and instead are rejected, leaving them at greater risk for homelessness, substance abuse, depression, and suicide. Up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.
Watch the video below to see the difference supportive dads can make in their transgender children’s lives. For more information on supporting and caring for transgender and gender-expansive children and youth, visit hrc.org/trans-youth.
Whether you identify as transgender or as an ally, join HRC’s #ThisIsTransgender social media campaign to share your story. Tag HRC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and send your Snapchat snaps to WeAreHRC and include the hashtag #ThisIsTransgender.