When I saw that Barbara Walters had a transgender tween on her show, I groaned. Here we go again, I thought, another set of parents exploiting their "different kid" to get on TV. Does 11-year-old Jazz really need the whole world weighing in on her male-to-female transformation at one of the most critical phases of childhood development?
Folks, I sit here corrected. This isn't about Jazz at all. Not exactly.
The 11-year-old is happy, well-adjusted, and she really doesn't care what the world thinks of her. She's open enough to tell the kids she knows exactly what is going on with her body. When they have questions, she even directs them to a YouTube video of her talking about her gender identity disorder. Take a look:
Jazz is not on TV because her parents are careless with their kid's feelings. If anything, it's the very opposite. They care so much that they and their daughter want to set an example for other parents, they want to show other families that you can have a happy, well-adjusted transgender child. You can be a happy family with one child whose gender at birth is not a good fit.
There is such fear surrounding raising a trangender child first and foremost because it is uncommon (it affects only 2 to 5 percent of the population) and therefore unknown. In that sense, it's like finding out about any other difference a child has; a parent has to learn something new.
I'll be honest: I'd be afraid to. Even knowing about gender dysphoria, even being comfortable with people who are transgender, I haven't been there. I would be terrified. But as Jazz's family is showing on 20/20, you can learn to parent a transgender child, you can learn to help a transgender child thrive.
Isn't that what we all want? Happy, thriving kids?
The tools are out there. There are families like Jazz's willing to put their stories out there to help guide other parents along the way. There's no reason every parent shouldn't be as accepting and loving as hers are to their transgender kid.
What do you think of this family?
Image via ABC
Going to baseball games
Riding bike rides in the nice weather
Playing outside after work/school
Going for walks outside