Father’s Reaction to Seeing His Transgender Child as a Woman Is Devastating for Both (VIDEO)

A heart-wrenching episode of Dr. Phil focuses on a father named Gary and his confrontation with his transgender child. Gary raised his nephew, named Zach, as his own son. But Zach was carrying a secret for years: He -- she identifies as female. And Gary is struggling to accept this. On the show this conflicted father met his transgender child as a woman for the first time, and his reaction is devastating.


Gary blames himself for Stephanie's "condition." When the individual then known as Zach, a married U.S. Army MP, came out to Gary as transgender, the father felt destroyed. "I lost my mind," he told Dr. Phil. "I yelled at him, asked him why he would ever want to become a girl, because I raised him as a man."

In the show Dr. Phil patiently walks Gary through his feelings and tries to get him to see things through Stephanie's eyes. He explains that no one is at fault in this situation. And then the time comes for Gary to meet Stephanie as she's always seen herself, as a woman.

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When Stephanie walks across the stage and sits down opposite her father all he can do is take gasping breaths. He bends over a few times as if he were hyperventilating. There are tears in his eyes. You can see how excruciating it is to see the person he knew as his son now as a woman.

Finally, Dr. Phil asks Gary how he is feeling.

"I'm hurt bad, really bad," Gary rasps.

Dr. Phil asks Stephanie what she wants her father to know. "Well, I just want you to know you didn't do anything wrong," she tells Gary.

Stephanie continues, talking about how this confrontation was making her feel. "I'm really hurt. I was really scared about seeing his reaction. I didn't know if he was angry or scared. I just want you to understand this has nothing to do with how you raised me. I just want you to be okay with me."

In the exchange facilitated by Dr. Phil, Stephanie reiterates that this is not a choice. Stephanie has been carrying the burden of hiding her true self since she was 7 years old. 

How does Gary respond? He says, "I hear confusion." He means Stephanie, but I think he's confused himself. All this time he felt like he'd failed his child somehow as a father. In a way, he did. But not in the way he thinks.

What Stephanie needs from Gary is his acceptance and support. That is the way Gary has failed her. 

Will Gary ever get it? I hope so. I don't think he can transform his perspective in just one television show. I think it's going to take months, maybe years of thinking and talking -- hopefully talking with Stephanie. But if he can focus on his love and endure the discomfort, if he can really listen, I think he'll get there.

Image via drphil.com

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