Here’s your feel-good example of social change of the week: a mother embracing her trans son wholeheartedly, and getting ready to take on the world for him if necessary.
When you’re transgender, navigating the process of coming out can be tricky, and every trans person takes on a slightly different approach. Some send out letters to friends, family, and coworkers, others simply start living as their true selves and informing people as they go, and all carefully pick and choose when to come out and to whom.
When 19-year-old Jes approached his parents to let them know he was transgender, his mother decided to take a unique approach to sharing the news with her friends and family on Facebook: she put up a birth announcement.
“Yep, it’s true!” she wrote on the announcement, which featured a stork carrying a bundle and the legend “It’s a boy!” In a post that ended with a smiley face and a note that she was feeling proud, she explained that:
“I am proud to announce that I have given birth to a bouncing baby boy on December 18, 1994. For about 18 1/2 years we thought he was a girl, who just happened to like bugs, tattoos, flames, skulls, snakes, lizards, etc, etc. Then one day Jes explained to us that he never felt like he was supposed to be a girl, always identified more as boy and therefore planned on living as a male (a term called transgender in case you are not sure). This is something that we have all seen over the years and I am so happy that he can finally feel like the person he was born to be! If you have any questions please feel free to ask me, as I will do my best to help you understand a concept that may be unfamiliar to you! If you think your question may be inappropriate, it probably is and I will probably not answer it!”
Jes shared his proud mom’s status on Tumblr, and it promptly went viral as people liked and shared it, in addition to doing the same thing with his mother’s original post. Jodi Gholson Oliver was overwhelmed by the largely supportive response to what she thought was just going to be a simple update to let people know about the latest news in her family, posting a followup update expressing appreciation for all the kind words, with a gentle gibe at the negative commenters: “I’ve even read a few non-supportive comments, and that’s ok. We do live in a country where we have ‘Freedom of Speech’ and without that I would not have been able to make my announcement.”
Jes’ supportive mother is a sterling example of how to do it right when your child comes out as transgender (though it’s important to confirm that your child is okay with having his, her, or their status clearly publicly delineated this way, as some transgender people may prefer to control their coming out process or keep it more private). And Jes himself has become an unexpected hero to trans youth looking for mentors their own age, as well as people who are curious about what it means to be transgender.
Notably, Jodi’s announcement directly addressed the issue that trans people are commonly asked inappropriate and intrusive questions about their genitals, gender identity, sexuality, and more, making it clear that she’d answer good faith questions but that she’d leave inappropriate ones unanswered.
Both she and Jes are dealing with a flood of questions from all corners, and they’re doing a great job of engaging with people who are genuinely curious and want to learn more, without feeding prurient and intrusive attitudes.
We’re proud of Jes and Jodi too!
Photo credit: torbakhopper.