Raising a Transgender Child: When George Became Jessie

Two years ago, my nine year old son tearfully shared with me that “his whole life, he had wanted to be a girl”. Pressed by the therapist (who, thank God, was in the room with us) to clarify whether he wants to be a girl or is a girl, George immediately replied that he is a girl. And so began a crazy-ass adventure of raising a transgendered child that I never, in a million years, expected to find my child or, frankly, myself, on.

To be clear, my husband Rich and I always knew that George (who is now Jessie) was different from not only our older son, but from other kids – male and female alike.

With sparkling eyes and a wildly observant and funny personality, he was known by everyone everywhere we went. Never one to shy away from a conversation or situation (particularly if it involved dolls, dresses, wigs or mermaid tails) he captured the attention of anyone he came into contact with. When behaviors that concerned us in preschool and kindergarten – including, but by no means limited to his self portraits (a frequent drawing assignment) consistently depicting a girl in a dress with long, flowing hair – continued with even greater vigor in first-, second- and third-grades we concluded that he was probably going to grow up to be gay, yet didn’t quite buy it ourselves. He was a boy who greatly appreciated a beautiful girl and what she was wearing. He never met a doll, wig, dress or mermaid tail that he didn’t feel a total compulsion to own – no matter how strongly he had to fight for it. And despite the fact that he was not even slightly effeminate, there were several occasions that he harassed and harangued me for hours on end requesting everything from hair extensions to wigs to dolls. It never added up. And then he asked for (and by “asked for” I mean “demanded”) a pierced ear.

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Our initial reaction to the earring request was that “little boys don’t wear earrings”, but he was having none of it. As he obsessively pursued this request it became increasingly clear that it was not a desire, but a need. Since growing out his traditional little boy haircut was going to take some serious time (we had agreed to allow him to grow his hair – anything to stop hearing about hair extensions or wigs) a single pierced ear seemed an easy enough allowance in hopes of placating him. Of significant note was, just prior (and I mean as the alcohol was being rubbed across his lobe) to the piercing, he implored the piercer to be sure to do it in the ear that doesn’t mean “gay”…clearly he was building up the courage to tell us something, we just didn’t know it yet.

It was not long after the newly pierced ear that our confusion was put to rest and we were told of George’s truth. It took me about a minute and a half to absorb what he was saying and to give myself a virtual whack upside the head. It all started to make sense now, except for the part when I told myself that this happens to other families – not mine. Wrong.

We continued along with our “if-it-was-ever-normal-it-isn’t-now” lives for a few weeks, noticing a huge change in our child’s mood and temperament. Clearly an enormous weight had been lifted and a skin had been shed. And then there came what we refer to as “the article”. It was a Sunday in December which also happened to be George’s tenth birthday. On the front page of “The Boston Globe” there was an article about identical twin boys, one of whom had identified as transgender and was now living fully as a girl. I, not surprisingly, was raptly reading the story when George came up behind me, noticed the photo and asked who they were. Upon telling him he responded, with his mouth agape, “You mean I’m not the only one?” It was at that moment that Jessie was born, moved in and has since made herself comfortable in my house.

The following day, I dropped George off at school and told him to be cool; we would come up with a plan. He was cool. Until 11 a.m. (not bad considering the school day starts at 8 a.m.) when he simply could not keep the truth to himself and, without fanfare or drama, told one of his teachers about his “secret”. The cat, ladies and gentlemen, was out of the bag.

The next day, as it happened, was pajama day and, after a hasty, late night trip to Target, I successfully outfitted my “son” in head-to-toe pink, purple and green polka dotted pajamas in which he ran (not walked) into school with zero hesitation and without so much as a glance over his shoulder for support. Jessie had been waiting her whole life for this day. I almost wonder if that was why she felt the need to share when she did…just to ensure the perfect little girl pajama ensemble for what will likely (hopefully) be her last school sanctioned pajama day ever.

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Since those first crazy days, we have had her second ear pierced and have had countless meetings, discussions, questions, plans and concerns hurled in our direction. At times we have laid low: mostly at the beginning when we were nearly immobilized by the mere thought of what it meant to have a transgender child. Other times we have been “out there”: when, for example, we announced on Facebook (with her encouragement) “George becoming Jessie”, complete with a photo of her in her inaugural dress. This was a means of survival for us and done mainly so that we weren’t forced to explain the situation to everyone, everywhere, every time we left the house. But no matter how people learned of Jessie having identified as transgender, the response has been consistent: total acceptance with a healthy and appropriate dose of trepidation: both for us and, frankly, themselves.

If only every family like ours could be so lucky.

Related post: The Princess and The Gender Role

About the writer

Julie has been married for over 21 years to her high school sweetheart Rich. Together, they are doing their best to raise two kids - Harrison who is 17 and perhaps the nicest guy they know and Jessie who, until her 10th birthday, was George. Read more at George.Jessie.Love.


Lisa 9 months ago

I am inspired by your story. Although hearing my moms words my entire life “never say never Bc u don’t know what life will throw your way” I have a gay sis, a bi sis, & then me & another sis who’s straight & with kids. Were all supportive and I’m proud of the 2 for being theirselves! but I still can’t imagine my 3 & 5 yr olds being gay or transgender, anything other than “traditional” (I guess is the word..) If that does come my way I hope that my fam is open enough to allow such things to be told! And I pray I would handle the situation as gracefully as you have done!

Mary 11 months ago

I have no experience with transgendered children, but I do with mental health. I know you and your husband are happy for Jessie, but take a little time to mourn for George. Not for your child but for your 10 years of dreams & plans – you know – the ones in our head – his life – his wedding – his family. Once you grieve for the child you lost (that was only in your mind all along) you can hurry up & start your plans & dreaming about the one you have. This advice helped me after I lost one baby out of my twin set. People told me not to be upset etc you have a beautiful baby – blah blah – but all I could think about was what I lost. My grandma told me until I grieved what I lost, I couldn’t wholeheartedly start dreaming for what I had:)

Angela Garson 11 months ago

Beautiful article! How lucky you are to have such a funny, brave, creative child! Jessie picked the right parents.

Lori 11 months ago

Praise be to parents who listen and love their children, which you obviously do. It’s not an easy road, but nothing worthwhile comes easy. You are amazing! Oh, and if you haven’t already, browse on over to Raising My Rainbow!

Desire May 11 months ago

Leviticus 22:10- “Now a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife should be put to death without fail, the adulterer and adulteress as well”…I don’t see many people calling for the death of cheaters…don’t pick and choose Leviticus, we all know there are many scriptures that are no longer applicable…unless you also want to be flagged as “unclean” for a day after every time you masturbate…

Christine Cook 11 months ago

Thank you for keeping your child safe… we need more open minded parents out there

Toni Glenn 11 months ago

Love this

Maeve Rhuad 11 months ago

Glad to see there are others who object to the caption as much as I do

Anonymous 11 months ago

I VERY STRONGLY disagree, for the exact same reasons that pedophilia is illegal: because we in the west have a very strong belief that children under a certain age are simply too young to truly understand sexuality, and to make responsible decisions in that area. If a six year old girl is too young and irresponsible to marry, then why on earth would you think that a six year old boy understands the concept of changing gender? Ridiculous. I’m not sorry for any offense. This needed to be said.

Liane Giard 11 months ago

Love it. I have 3 girls and I pray I am as open to change if needed.

Nikole Dalton Dupont 11 months ago

I’ll be damned before i let my little girl parade around like a boy.

Lisa Perry 11 months ago

I absolutely hate the horribly judgmental Scary Mommy lead-in for this share. Despite this, I read the story, all pissed off and ready to feel judged as a parent because realistically – let’s be honest – how many soon-to-be parents find themselves in the maternity ward counting minutes between contractions all ready and waiting to raise a LGBT child? I certainly wasn’t prepared for many of the parenting challenges that have come up in my 7 wonderful years of being a parent. So I read the article surprised to find that the subject parents don’t have a clue how to raise a LGBT child. And, it’s a GREAT article. However, I am left to wonder why Scary Mommy shared it with such judgment. Does Scary Mommy think this unprepared yet seemingly kind family shouldn’t have become parents in the first place?

Pebble Savary 11 months ago

Looking at older post and debating if I still want to like this page. This issue has gotten way out of hand.

Kellie 11 months ago

This totally made me tear up. What a beautiful love story.

Bev 11 months ago

Your story made me tear up. Jessie is so lucky to have such loving, supportive parents and as a family I am so happy to hear what a supportive community you have. As you said I wish all families could be as lucky as yours.

Sarah Carroll 11 months ago

If you believe that being transgender is wrong, let me as you one thing: are you honestly willing to let your child suffer and die to prove your point? You might think they are selfish for being who they are, but a parent like that is the ultimate failure.

Jessica Marsh-Oosterlinck 11 months ago

My biggest fear and first thought would be that my child is now subject to the cruelty of closed minds and harsh, judgmental opinions of people who can’t be bothered to mind their own damn business. We’ll skim over divorce, adultery, lying, envy, gluttony, judging, turning a blind eye to the poor, etc; but that tax paying gay couple with the steady income and adopted children that they offer their own unconditional love to? That’s the enemy? Please. Maybe pay attention to the shit God wrote in stone and not cherry pick the verses that have nothing to do with you.

Naomi Michelini 11 months ago

Sorry, but no. Never will I intentionally buy girls clothes for my son. Can he dress up with his sisters at home, and play? Yes. Can he play with barbies and dolls? Absolutely. Can he grow his hair long, replace his entire wardrobe and demand to be called something different after his father and I spend 9 long months picking his name? Hell no. If he wants to do that when he’s an adult, and has the brain development necessary to make a life altering decision, then he will have our full support. But a CHILD cannot make such big decision with even bigger consequences.

Raina Matherly 11 months ago

Why in blue hell does it even matter?? They are still your child.

Rebecca Best Humphrey 11 months ago

Love unconditionally!

Susie Murray Mints 11 months ago

Gender is a sociological construction… Only one sex can give birth and one sex is taller and a bit stronger than the other, but every other difference is made up by society

Laurie 11 months ago

What a wonderful amazing story! To have a child with such self-knowledge and confidence, especially at that age is truly extraordinary. All the best to you and all your family.

Corrine Actipis 11 months ago

I think it’s a parent’s job to raise your child to be what they’re meant to be. Their purpose may not be your ideal. They count on you for support, no matter what. Kudos to this mommy!

Michael Jacob Luck 11 months ago

It’s just a technicality Brittany. Going into Parenthood, you should accept that fact that you’re raising a person who will have their own problems and realizing that you need to be there FOR them and ACCEPT them for who they are and be willing to help them through it. How can we ever expect anyone to accept us for our differences if we don’t accept our own children for theirs? How can we ever hope to gain support from our friends and family if we don’t support our own? Plain and simple, if you can’t accept who your child is, you ARE a bad parent. So go ahead and disagree with a technicality. You missed the point.

Caroline Miller 11 months ago

How about instead of worrying about gay/lesbian/trans gender – just raise your child with morals, character and respect for others

Betty 11 months ago

Thank you for loving your child, not your “son” or “daughter.” I am presently saddened at a local family who was not supportive and the world lost their child forever. I don’t know how I could help my child through this, but I would find a way and offer my love and acceptance.

Amanda 11 months ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your family’s amazing story. Y’all have handled what could be a tough situation with grace and I am inspired. Way to go, Mama!

Angela 11 months ago

I wonder how different things would be if we weren’t so adamant about certain things that boys/girls can/’t do. I don’t claim to know much (anything) about trans issues beyond what I’ve read on sites like this, Huffpost, etc., but if we stopped saying, “Boys don’t wear earrings” and “only girls have long hair”, would we have children tearfully telling their parents that they were the other gender?

Angela Roberge 11 months ago

I wonder how different things would be if we weren’t so adamant about certain things that boys/girls can/’t do. I don’t claim to know much (anything) about trans issues beyond what I’ve read on sites like this, Huffpost, etc., but if we stopped saying, “Boys don’t wear earrings” and “only girls have long hair”, would we have children tearfully telling their parents that they were the other gender?

Morgan Mattson 11 months ago

This is a highly debatable subject. My husband and I got into it the other day as I brought up Jolie-Pitts child….he finds it is wrong for parents to allow this behavior and I find it amazing. I think gay/lesbian is different than transgender. I know people who are transgender, I accept it. It is something that will take time for others to wrap their heads around, it doesn’t make them bad people or parents…it is different and most humans have a hard time dealing with change. I think the title of the post is a bit harsh…

Anna Moore 11 months ago

What a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing. Jessie and Harrison are blessed to have you

Colleen Williams 11 months ago

Oh this is the best story. Thank you for sharing. If only more transgender kids had this kind of loving support. Let’s hope with more and more stories shared like this beautiful one, more and more people (parents and kids) will find the support and courage to let go of fear.

Toni Lynette Villademoros-Adwell 11 months ago

I think the point of the caption is that parents shouldn’t go into parenthood expecting their children to fit their ideals; placing them in a box of specific expectations. Encourage your children to be who they are, guide them in certain situations, absolutely, but don’t try to go against the grain of their personalities, sexual orientations, and so on. Talk with them, discover their opinions on subjects, their reasoning, and do your best to realize they are people too, just smaller. This isn’t about getting your kid to realize that eating vegetables really is good for them, it’s about accepting them for who they are, no matter what *your* personal preferences or opinions are. We’re allowed to have diversity in our world without condemning it–even if that diversity is within our own household.

Robert Keen 11 months ago

You don’t have to agree with it or even like it cause not everyone agrees or likes everything you do but you have to treat them with respect and if it’s your child you have to love them unconditionally.

Jennifer Moore 11 months ago

I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even prepared to get up 15 times in one night for eight months straight. How dare I become a parent!

Karen Orr Segovia 11 months ago

I think you could replace “gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender” with just about anything… Or nothing at all really. It all boils down the same.
If you aren’t prepared to raise a (…) child, perhaps you shouldn’t have become a parent in the first place.

Alix Abel 11 months ago

Love love LOVE!!! Parenting done right!

Kylie 11 months ago

Aw, this makes me cry. You and Jessie have a long road ahead of you; it’s wonderful you’re traveling it together. My young son has “girl days” and it remains to be discovered whether or not he’s transgender or just enjoys trying different identities, but it gives me great joy to hear that there are more and more families who are supporting and helping our children expand into whoever it is they really are.

Erika Rorvick Jenkins 11 months ago

What a sweet child!

Ellen McCusker Botello 11 months ago

Love is love

Kaitlyn Rosa 11 months ago

I love my child. I will always love my child, and if he chooses to love a man when he is old enough to understand what that is, then I will still love him, because I am his mother and he is still my son, no matter what. All I want is for my son to be happy, and if that means that he is gay, then so be it. After all, I’d rather have a happy gay son, then one that couldn’t take the pain of the parents refusal to accept them so they committed suicide.

Angie Maragno 11 months ago

Like I tell my year and a half old son every day:

I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My doodlebug you’ll be

JuAune C Thompson 11 months ago

Perfect caption. Don’t become a parent if you can’t handle the possibility of a Gay, Bi or Trans child.

Jewell Nettles 11 months ago

Amen sister!!!!!!!!! (Happy NEW YEAR to everyone from a balmy fifty to a minus two) everyone stay warm and cozy lol.

Lori Rose Yurtin 11 months ago


Amanda Murphey 11 months ago

Typical… let’s dissect the words used in this article and nit pick on the definitions. Let’s start with prepared. Yes, prepared may have been the wrong choice of word, but we’re all adults here right? Prepared in this sense seems not to imply that parents should have the skills and emotional restraint needed to handle the situation with precision and perfection. What it says to me, is that parents should preemptively acknowledge and accept that their unborn child may turn out to be gay, heterosexual, transexual, bisexual, or whatever other sexual is out there. This article was not addressing other outside the norm situations that may arise. Murderers and pedophiles were not part of the discussion. I agree completely with the statement, and I’ll tell you why.

I am the proud parent of a three year old little girl. She is the light of my life, and will continue to be for the rest of my life. Whatever choices she makes in this world, I am PREPARED to be there for her, with all the love a mother can hold, and offer it to her for as long as I am in this world. I may not be prepared to handle the the specific situations that enevitably arise with parenthood, but I can guarantee you that I am fully prepared to love my child unconditionally regardless of their choices in this world. Even if I disagree with them. Period.

Kristen Bothe 11 months ago

I wasn’t prepared for my child’s first blow out diaper, but I adapted. Obviously, that is a lot different than having a LBGT child, but I’m just making a point. People are not usually prepared for every aspect of parenting when they become parents . That’s life. Geez, the caption above this is just plain wrong.

Andrew Bavaro 11 months ago

I can’t say I’d be comfortable and it would take a fair amount of time to come to terms with it. I’ve always gone along with the thought I don’t hate people who fit into that criteria I just don’t want my kids to fall into it. If it does so be it but hopefully not

Kate Love 11 months ago

Thank you for speaking out on behalf of transgender youth. My own transgender teen has given me consent to speak about things on FB and places like here but has asked me not to make a blog post about this situation. As a writer it is hard, but as a mother it’s the right thing to do and so I stay nearly completely silent.

This week has been so incredibly painful. Leelah’s timeline is identical to my daughter. The idea that my own daughter coming out at 14 meant she could finally begin living authentically but for Leelah it meant she began to be tormented by her ignorant, fearful, and small minded parents … This idea just hurts deep in my chest.

It isn’t right that the level of help and support these kids gets is based solely on the randomness of what type of parents they are born to.

I’m hoping this spurs on real legal changes that protect these kids.

Thank you for writing this.

Sarah Koebler 11 months ago

I never said not love. But preparing for homosexuality is not seamless for everyone, and they have to work at it. Doesn’t make them bad parents, makes them human. Period. No one will change my mind. That’s how I feel.

Michelle Garrett Ranous 11 months ago

A parents love must be unconditional. I think that is the only kind of truly unconditional love there is/should be.

Tammi Moser Bolender 11 months ago

For the parents who say “not my child, not under my roof, etc.” Would you not allow your child to be Autistic, would you disown, would you harm or would you hate your child because they had Autism? Being gay is no different, it is a difference in the brain that you are born with, this has been proven by science. If you can’t love your child for who they are, how they are, how they were born, how you and God created them, no you should not be a parent, your love is conditional.

Jordan Drake-Wagner 11 months ago

These comments are making me sick. Love you kids. Teach them to respect themselves and the RIGHT person will come along and respect them too. Black white Gay straight yellow purple. Jeez ppl can be so judgemental and kids don’t need to see your negative ass

Jordan Drake-Wagner 11 months ago

So telling you kid “no you can’t feel the way you feel” is ok. And kids don’t just show off their homosexuality brazenly. You wouldn’t let you 10 yr old straight son start kissing girls. Same goes for gay boys. You teach them to respect themselves and make choices so eventually the right person will come along and respect them too.

Roanna Krishell Hall 11 months ago

Parenting is the hardest and most important job in the world. It is not supposed to be easy as nothing that rewarding EVER is. There are so many things that can cause issues but having a LGTB child shouldn’t be one of them. Acceptance, love, protection, and guidance….. its your job as a parent to
provide that for your child.

Cameo Harmon 11 months ago

Everything, (and proven here) boils down to wanting to be RIGHT. Instead of fighting with one another, and fighting with our children, and fighting with random ppl on the internet, how about we show love and respect TO ALL. We never have to agree with anyone’s decision, but being a decent human being starts with loving one another. That same love we all want. LET IT BEGIN WITH ME…

Peter Rufo 11 months ago

Ya but Brittany in order to adapt you need to have an open mind and tons of love. You can’t adapt to anything without it. I think that’s the point that this post is making!

Melanie Connors Irwin 11 months ago

How do you know God didn’t make LGBT kids/people to test your judgments….The bible says to love your neighbor…it doesn’t specify which neighbors, just to love!!

Melissa Prucha LaPorta 11 months ago

Ok who is ever “prepared” to raise a gay, lesbian, bi, trans or heterosexual child?? As a parent you can’t choose you child’s life so there’s no way to prepare for these things. So you can’t blame anyone for being caught off guard for their child’s choices, the only the we as parents can control is how we react to their choices.

    Lacey Murphy 11 months ago


    Shannon Gorman Cornwell 11 months ago

    And first, it may be important to know it’s not a “choice”.

    Melissa Prucha LaPorta 11 months ago

    OMG really? You’re going to criticize my use of the word “choice?!” Sheesh. Let me tell ya, whether it’s a choice or not, as a parent you aren’t prepared for any of it. You just hope you react in a way that is positive and loving.

    Shannon Gorman Cornwell 11 months ago

    Yep. I am going to call you out on it. I know exactly how I would react. It’s not a choice. And to call it one is DAMAGING to many.

Heather Wright 11 months ago

I knew that was coming. Choices are choices. Not every parent agrees with their child’s choice. I don’t agree with my spouse always. You love them regardless. Love is not always saying yes.

Rosie Abbott 11 months ago

This article is just too over PC in my opinion. They are talking about this child being 9/10 sexuality shouldnt even be brought into it. Yes you have a rough idea of what you go for but you dont really know until you are much older. If the child wants to dress up and be called a girls name then thats fine by me. But getting counsellors, everybody and their dog involved, declaring it on facebook is just making it a big deal and adding more pressure onto the child and makes it out to be a really big issue when it really is not…

Lacey Murphy 11 months ago

I would support my children no matter what their orientation is. However I do not agree with the title of this article. Their are many parenting situations you may find your self in that you’re not prepared for. It doesn’t mean that you just shouldn’t be a parent. It means you find the strength, grace and courage to grow and learn.

Shannon Blosser 11 months ago

Wow I think it’s a little nuts that you’re comparing being homosexual to being a murderer. Hmmm

Katy Burkhart 11 months ago


brandi 11 months ago

thank you for sharing this. it couldn’t have come at a better time! my youngest daughter will be 6in two weeks. for the past two years she has become more of a tomboy. wanting to shave her head…we wouldn’t allow it. asking for boy toys for Christmas and birthdays. stealing her boy cousin’s clothes that is only 3 months older. Layla also told us that she’s going to change her name to Larry when she grows up and drive a blue tow truck. I’m fairly certain she’s gay. My cousin told me she was around her age when she knew. And that’s more than ok if my Layla is. we finally allowed her to get her hair cut. She has a fohawk. I mostly don’t know how to deal with the rude children at her school and in the neighborhood. your post is an amazing inspiration. thank you again!

Amanda Mirambell-Grice 11 months ago

Well, if someone isn’t willing to love their children unconditionally, then they shouldn’t be parents. Period

Amanda Mirambell-Grice 11 months ago

If you’re not supporting them, you’re not loving them unconditionally. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, etc is NOT a choice. If you can’t accept that about your children, don’t have kids. It’s not like drugs, which are a choice, and certainly something that not supporting isn’t a bad thing. But to not support them in their sexuality or gender is abhorrent.

Amra Chudleigh-Neal 11 months ago

The fact that there are still people claiming that LGTB is a choice scares me so much for our society and our future. And our children.

Amanda Mirambell-Grice 11 months ago

Cram your Bible where the sun doesn’t shine

Amra Chudleigh-Neal 11 months ago

I agree with that statement, 100%

Alisha N Junior 11 months ago

Kinda scared to speak out about my opinion on this. But I will say every parent loves their children regardless.. but some just don’t know how to react to things until they come… and all of us are guilty of not always doing everything right…

Traci Casallas 11 months ago

Completely disagree with that caption. Most people aren’t even prepared to raise a child. You can read every book, watch every video. That doesn’t mean you are prepared when your LO finally gets here. Sure, you probably have a better idea. To say you shouldn’t have become a parent if you aren’t prepared to raise a LGBT child is bullshit.


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