Questions for Reflection
In each episode, we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. Our supporters over at Buy Me a Coffee now have exclusive access to the PDF versions of all our Questions for Reflection. Join us today!
Beth Demme (00:03):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars podcast.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:05):
Where we share personal experiences so we can learn from each other.
Beth Demme (00:08):
Our mission is to talk about things you might relate to, but that you don't hear being discussed in other places.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:13):
Our hope is that you're encouraged to have honest conversations with people in your own life. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:17):
And I'm Beth. On today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled, "One of My Twins is Transgender with Lisa." Hey, Lisa.
Beth Demme (00:26):
Thank you for being here. Lisa is a friend of mine, and I'm so excited that you agreed to be on the podcast to educate, not just Steph and I, but to educate our friends who listen to this. When you and I met, you had three children.
Beth Demme (00:41):
Beth Demme (00:42):
And twin daughters.
Beth Demme (00:44):
Right. We understand your family a little bit differently now, right?
Beth Demme (00:52):
Tell us about your kids.
When my twin girls were born, we were just so excited. We had twin girls and we had a son that was older, and everything was pretty normal in the beginning. And then I would say maybe around the age of two or three, we started noticing that one of the twins was constantly dressing up in boy clothes. And we really didn't think much about it until it started happening over and over and over again. And I remember, specifically, being in a friend's kitchen, when you're around someone that you're really, really comfortable with, I just said, "Gosh, I wouldn't be surprised if Jay was gay."
Because at the time, I didn't even know what transgender was. I thought the only option would be gay. And so that's when it started. And then as Jay grew, we started noticing that he was constantly wanting to wear his older brother's clothes and people would say, "Oh, well, isn't that so great? Yes, he just wants to be his older brother and it's just a phase." But I started keeping a journal. And when I was reading flashcards with Jay when he was four years old, and I'm going to go back and forth between he and she, and it's so confusing, but in the journal, I'll go ahead and use female pronouns.
Beth Demme (02:39):
Because that's how you understood Jay at the time.
Right, right. And so, at four years old, when I was reading flashcards to Jay, I helped her send out the word boy. And she said the word, and she said, "Like me and Max."
Beth Demme (02:55):
Mm, her older brother.
Yes. And I thought ... That was our first clue. I mean, she was four. And so when she was four, she also said, one day randomly, "I want to have a penis like Max and daddy."
Beth Demme (03:12):
And we were like, oh, well, that's different. And so those were some of the things that she said that just let us know something was going on. And again, I really didn't know anything about being transgender at the time, but I-
Beth Demme (03:29):
It's so interesting that at that age, we can know ourselves or know something like that about ourselves. Are your twins identical? How does that work?
Beth Demme (03:42):
They're fraternal. And you always understood them to be fraternal?
Yes. There were two placentas. And they look very different and they act very different. They're fraternal.
Beth Demme (03:57):
I mean, in general, transgender is not all that common.
Beth Demme (04:03):
I mean, if we looked at it in terms of the whole population, I think we spend a lot of time ... Well, not we, but politically and culturally, people spend a lot of time talking about it when, really, it's a really small percentage of folks who would identify that way.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:16):
Which is why, though, it's important to talk about because it's a small percentage. That means a lot of people don't understand it as much because there's not as many people out there to understand their experiences from. I don't think I know anyone transgender, which is why when Beth brought you to my attention, I was like, "Yes, this would be a great conversation." Because I want to be more informed, I want to understand something. I know I'll never fully understand it because I'm not in Jay's shoes, but that's how we are able to make change, by understanding other people's lives and realizing it's not just my world, it's everyone's world.
Beth Demme (04:55):
It's interesting that it started so young. Is it the right phraseology to say like, born in the wrong body? Or is it, that doesn't feel quite right to me?
I don't think Jay has ever expressed it like that, because he feels like he's not wrong. He is who he was born to be. And I guess, to some degree, he feels like things don't match the way they should match. And so that's why in the beginning, he was wearing boy clothes. And we used to call it gender nonconforming until I decided I really didn't like that term because it sounded so negative. I just came up with my own little expression. I used to tell people he was gender independent. Because we would see people in public, and people in public always thought that he was a boy and he loved that. And then let's say we would be at a restaurant and then we would use his name and it would out him. And he would get mad at us sometimes.
Beth Demme (06:18):
Yeah, when you are using his "dead name."
Correct, correct. And we wanted to do what made him happy, but we were also trying to figure it out too. And we spent a long time figuring out. I feel like some people can be very judgmental in thinking that this is a choice, but we spent seven years watching and waiting and observing our child before we took any steps towards even the name change.
Beth Demme (06:50):
Yeah. That was one of our questions, is did you ever, for even a moment, think, oh, this is a phase?
I often wondered, is he gay or is he trans? And I mean, my husband used to get so frustrated with me. He would be just like, "Well, why do we have to have this discussion? Why are you making something out of nothing? Why don't we just address it when it becomes a problem?" And for me, I need to go through every single scenario to prepare my mind if it's this or that. I knew it was either this or that. And I really hoped that he was gay. I mean, because if we're going to be honest about it, no parent would want their child to be trans. You want your child to love their body.
You don't want their child to want surgery in order to rectify their body and get their body to change so that it is the same as the gender in their mind. And so I was really pulling for the whole gay card.
Beth Demme (07:59):
Right. It just seems easier, really. I mean-
Yeah, absolutely. You take the ... I don't want to call them evils, but the lesser of the two evils, it would be so much easier.
Beth Demme (08:09):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:10):
What do you consider boy clothes?
Dark colors, longer shorts. Forever, he was just considered a tomboy.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:21):
That's what I was wondering. Did you ever just consider he was a tomboy, that he was a girl that liked wearing just more man-
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:30):
But then the more you observed, the more you realize, okay, it's one of these two.
Beth Demme (08:35):
And the more that he was expressing himself-
Beth Demme (08:38):
... and expressing ideas about gender. Which, for me, raises so many questions about gender because is it a matter of parts or equipment, or is it how we present, or is it someone else's perception, or is it something else? How are we deciding gender or conveying gender just raises a lot of questions for me that a toddler could understand there are different genders and people misunderstand which one I am.
Right, right. And even when he was going through his tomboy phase, he would be at a summer camp. Summer camps were really rough for him because every week was something ... A different group.
Beth Demme (09:21):
And so he would actually get in trouble because he actually got in trouble for using the girl's bathroom. Because pre puberty, if you have a girl that's wearing boy clothes, they pass as a boy. And he was passing as a boy, but he got in trouble on multiple occasions for going into the girl's bathroom by an adult that didn't know. And that created a lot of anxiety for him. And it made summer camps very hard.
Beth Demme (09:55):
Yeah. I didn't even think about that about. I just didn't even think about bathrooms. I mean, there's been so much debate in society, I guess, about bathrooms. But I really hadn't thought about how a child who is old enough to take themselves to the bathroom could be misunderstood by an adult. That's rough.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:14):
When all of that was happening, how was that for you, guys, when all of that was happening in the news?
Well, we were going through it at the same time. And so, fortunately, our middle school was really awesome. Unfortunately, when we started middle school, I knew could potentially be a problem. And about a month into school, he broke down and said that he was really suffering. And immediately, even though he said, "Please don't make a big deal about it. Please don't tell anybody, please mom." At that point, I had to call the principal and had a conversation. And we made arrangements so that he could use the bathroom at school, but it was always hard.
There were many emails sent, there were many, many phone calls. And I think for some kids, they want ... I think you have to be flexible in what you ask for. And you need to meet the school in the middle. I try not to be really demanding. I just try to say ... I try to come at it from a very human perspective of like, okay, this is what he needs. I'm not asking for the sun, moon, and stars. I just need you to help me try to problem solve this. And they were really great about it.
Beth Demme (11:36):
At what point did Jay transition from a girl named to a boy name?
The end of seventh grade.
Beth Demme (11:46):
Okay, so in middle school.
Yes. And things came to ahead. He wanted to play a sport in middle school and it's a sport that is cross-country. And he said, "I want to go out for cross-country." And I said, "Okay." This was before the name change. I said, "Are you going to want to run with the girls or the boys?" And I knew the answer, but I had to say it.
Beth Demme (12:11):
You had to ask, yeah.
I always just asked. I never assumed and I never pressured him. And he said, "I want to run with the boys." And so he knew where the boys were meeting, what day they were meeting. And the amount of courage it took for him to walk into that group and to say, "I want to run with you guys," but there was a little bit of a pushback from that. And that's when we decided, maybe it's time to possibly consider a name and a pronoun change. It's completely up to you. And he said, "Yeah." And so we did it. We did it in between seventh and eighth grade. When we had wanted to do it right before ... We wanted to wait before high school, but it was getting too hard.
Beth Demme (12:58):
Yeah. It's one of those things when you know, you know. I mean-
Beth Demme (13:01):
... you know when it's time. What were some of the pieces that had to fall into place for Jay to be able to start going by that name? I mean, I would think immediate family is one thing, extended family is another thing, school is another thing. It seems like a lot of pieces to me.
Right. First of all, we talked to family, we talked to everyone close to us. And then we went through the legal routes of changing the name. We had to stand before a judge for the name change. Both my husband and I had to be fingerprinted. And there were a lot of fees to pay to go through the name change. But then we did post something on Facebook, just to let the masses know, and that was with Jay's blessing. All along with all of this, it's always with Jay's blessing because it's really his story. And just as we would see people, we would let them know it wasn't too hard. The hardest part was transitioning to the pronouns. Because even as affirming as we were, you've spent a whole 12 years using female pronouns. That was the hardest part.
Beth Demme (14:17):
The habits. Yeah, habits have to be changed, yeah. I can understand that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:22):
Were you able to change ... Well, he didn't have a license at that time.
He changed his name. We amended his birth certificate-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:28):
... and then we obtained passport.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:31):
And what gender does it say?
It says male.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:34):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:35):
You can just let-
You can amend the gender as well.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (14:40):
Yeah. And I wasn't aware of that prior to this process. I thought that's crazy. And people might think it's crazy. And I understand that people think it's crazy, but the thing about it is, is I don't want my kid being discriminated against. And so I want things to be as easy for him as possible. And if that means changing his gender, then so be it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:07):
Well, and that makes so much sense that you ... Well, that's great that you can change it. But then I would think that would make things easier within school, in the sense of if his birth certificate says male, then he should be able to join this male boys teams and the bathrooms. Did that help with that?
I don't know that it necessarily helped with the sports. I mean, he was able to play on a male sports team. And I think there are some protections for transgender students. I don't know how long they will-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:38):
I hope so.
... have those protections. I think it's unfortunate that we're dealing with those issues now. I don't have the answers. I understand how complicated it is for people thinking as far as transfemales have an advantage over cisgender females. I get that. But I also understand that raking those kids through the coals and calling them all sorts of names and further marginalizing them, that's not the answer.
Beth Demme (16:12):
Yeah. What's interesting about those stories about, particularly like college athletes who are transgender, and when you first hear the story and you hear, oh, this person competed as a boy and did well, but now is competing as a female and is doing really well. But what they leave out is that for years, that person has been on hormone suppression or has been out of the sport or has ... There's this middle piece that doesn't always get explained very well. It does sound like there's something unfair taking place.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:53):
We did say the percentage of transgender people is pretty low. Do you know what the percentage is?
I actually don't have that number in my head. But oddly enough, I actually have several friends with transgender children. And these are friends that I did not meet through having a transgender child. I actually have discovered that someone I went to college with, a very close college friend, has a transgender child. And another friend of mine also has a transgender child. And so it may not be as small a number as one might think.
Beth Demme (17:39):
Right. It may be a number that's under reported or under understood because people suppress it in some way or ignore it in some way. What was it like for your husband? And maybe you could talk a little bit about what it was like for your other kids. When the name change happened, was everybody like, finally? Or was it more like, oh, I don't know?
Everybody was awesome about it. I mean, I don't think that my older son and my daughter ever really ... There was no pushback ever. Jay was Jay from the time he was young until the time he transitioned. And so it was never really an issue and everybody just ... The kids were phenomenal. My husband was awesome. I mean, we just knew it was the right thing to do.
Beth Demme (18:38):
Why don't you share some more with us from the notes that you brought about ages where there were indicators to you? Because I think just hearing the story, the way that we've talked about it so far, it's sort of like, well, when he was little, he wanted to be a tomboy and dress in boys' clothes and then we decided he could change his name. That's not what happened.
Yeah, yeah. I kept a journal for all three of my kids. And I was able to go back through the journals-
Beth Demme (19:07):
... and just find different things that I had written. I wasn't specifically writing about these ... I was writing these about all my kids.
Beth Demme (19:19):
You weren't like documenting Jay's gender. It's just as you were recording things and then you look back and go, oh, that's interesting.
I know. There were so much. And so at 23 months old, I wrote, Jay loves dressing up as Max, her older brother. She wants to put Max's clothes on her. Jay can put Max's underwear on all by herself.
Beth Demme (19:39):
At 24 months?
Yeah, 23 months, yes. For years. Jay continues to wear Max's clothes and shoes. Jay loves to wear Max's clothes and insists we call her brother and-
Beth Demme (19:52):
Okay, instead of sister.
Yes. At five, Jay has an alter ego, Nicholas. She is now Nick when she dresses in Max's clothes. She also tucks her hair behind her ears when she is Nick.
Beth Demme (20:07):
Oh, because both of the girls had long hair.
Yeah. She was pretending and she had to get into character. Five years of age, I will be talking to Jay, and in the sweetest voice, she will say, "Mama, will you call me Nicholas?"
Beth Demme (20:24):
And I do, until she says, "Call me Jay." And it was always very confusing. I was trying to do what she wanted me to do, but she would float back and forth. Six years, Jay wears girl clothes to school every day and changes into boy clothes when she gets home from school. To the point where at the end of the week, Max wouldn't have any clothes left in his ... He'd be like, "Well, I don't have any clothes." And so that's when that was around kindergarten, the end of kindergarten, and that summer between kindergarten and first grade.
I went to Goodwill and I just got a bunch of little boy clothes, little play clothes. And that's what Jay wore after kindergarten, all summer long. Jay, at multiple summer camps, wore boy clothes 24/7, including boys' underwear and her black converse high tops.
Beth Demme (21:24):
And so then a week before first grade, she comes to me and she says, "Mom, can I wear boy clothes to first grade?"
Beth Demme (21:34):
Oh, to school.
And that was a big step for me. I will tell you, I remember the first time that she wore boy clothes in public and it was to the skating rink. It was hard for me because I guess, unfortunately, I care a little bit too much about what people think. And I thought, ah. But I let her because I'm just like, whatever. She asked me if she could wear boy clothes to first grade, and I said, "Sure. If you want to wear boy clothes, you can." And then she said, "Will you tell the teacher my name is Nicholas?"
Beth Demme (22:14):
And at that time, I said, "Let's just see how it goes with the clothes." Because I, personally, was not ready. And so I just wanted to see how the clothes went. And honestly, it could have been a phase. And so I just thought, let's just see how the clothes go.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:32):
Well, what I think is important about that too, is I think that when people are really removed from knowing you and knowing your family, it's like, well, did the parents encourage this in some way?
Beth Demme (22:44):
And of course, that's ridiculous, right?
Right, right, right. Absolutely. At six years, I've written in here, Jay spent most of the weekend being a friend of the families named Nick. She would call me Miss Lisa instead of mom. She made a whole story about her mom being in jail for stealing diamonds-
Beth Demme (23:02):
... and how she lives with her dad. Her dad was in a meeting for two days and that's why she was staying with us or he was staying with us. And Nick also brought his twin brothers with him. That was at six years. Then we went through a phase at six-and-a-half where she never pretended to be Nick. At six-and-a-half, I've written down in the book, she's insistent that she is a girl and that she doesn't want to be a boy, and that she likes dressing like a boy.
Beth Demme (23:35):
Interesting. I mean, kids go through that, like a desire to conform, a desire to, I just want everybody to be okay with me.
Right. That was the only time that I wrote something like that in here. I was actually a little ... I had forgotten about it and I was surprised to find that. I'm like, oh, wow, that's interesting. Eight years old, Jay plays mostly with boys. Her three best friends are boys. She confides in me that she thinks Maddie is pretty. And so I'm starting to go, hmm, okay, most of your friends are boys. At that age, they tend to play and have friends that are the same gender. Eight years, played flag football, played baseball, basketball. She was the only girl on the team. And then in middle school, that's when things started changing a bit. And we decided that we needed to have bigger conversations.
Beth Demme (24:46):
What happens medically for a transgender youth?
Well, typically, we start off with the doctors, start off with hormone suppression. And so we actually ended up going to Shands because I felt like a fish out of water. And my primary doctor said, "Oh, there's an endocrinologist here in town. He primarily sees type 1 diabetes kids, but you can go see him." And I thought, well, I really want to go to an expert who really is invested and who has seen lots of transgender children. And actually, at that time, we weren't really even using the word transgender. It wasn't until after our doctor's appointment that we talked to a psychologist, we talked to the endocrinologist. And that's when we started using that term, because I didn't want to throw a label on my kid.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:45):
Did Jay go through counseling?
He did, yup.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:49):
Was that required or something that you guys wanted or he wanted?
Yes, it's definitely required. And they like for the kids to be in counseling. It's not like we're bringing a kid to the doctor and saying, hey, we've decided that my child doesn't want to be a girl anymore, they want to be a boy. It's not that simple. But we went to Shen's and we saw a doctor and they typically start off with hormone suppression. And what that means is that they just press pause on the hormones. For us, we were pausing puberty so that he didn't enter puberty. And then after that, then comes the cross hormones.
The puberty blockers are not harmful in ... Or I should say, it's reversible. If you have your child on puberty blockers for, let's say, two years and your child decides and with counseling decides, maybe I'm not trans after all, because maybe they're just confused. And I hate to even use that word, confused. But some kids need to talk to a psychologist and get some counseling.
Beth Demme (27:04):
You could take the child off of the puberty or hormone blockers and then they would go through puberty and it would just be delayed.
Beth Demme (27:11):
Yeah. And you could see them even doing that maybe with a girl who has precocious puberty, right?
Yeah, absolutely. Yes.
Beth Demme (27:16):
You would want to slow things down and-
Absolutely, yeah. And then once it is determined that, yes, we want to start giving cross hormones, then they can give cross hormones. And so that's part of the process as well. If a child has already gone through puberty, then they can have the cross hormones. And those cross hormones, you're going to suppress their current hormones and give them cross hormones. And so for transmales, you are suppressing estrogen and you're giving them supplemental testosterone.
Beth Demme (27:54):
Yes. But once you start on the testosterone, there are certain things that are not reversible. And so once the voice starts to deepen, that's not going to change.
Beth Demme (28:06):
Oh, that's interesting.
Yeah. And so that's why they want to make sure that your child is trans and that they do want to transition. Because it's not like you can reverse some of these changes.
Beth Demme (28:21):
So then is that something that a transgender person has to always do? They always have to have the cross hormones? I mean-
Yeah, they'll always have to have the cross hormones. You can get to a point where your cross hormone levels are blocking your natural hormones so that you don't always have to block them. And then, obviously, I think what people think of most is surgery. I mean, I think surgery is a really big step. I do know someone who has had surgery mastectomy prior to turning 18.
Beth Demme (29:01):
That was with parental support.
Beth Demme (29:03):
Yeah. If you had the choice, it seems like it would be better to block the hormones so that breasts don't develop than to have to have them removed. But I guess maybe that's not always a realistic option.
It's not always an option. I mean, sometimes kids know. Jay knew. Jay knew. And we were able to suppress ... Well, we didn't even really have to suppress puberty. But there are some kids that maybe a trans person starts their period in fifth grade and develops breasts. And I know a particular scenario where that happened. And then in sixth grade, this person said, "Mom, I think I'm gay." And then two or three years later, they said, "I don't think I'm gay, mom. I think I'm trans." And then at that point, it was determined for the child's mental health that the child have a mastectomy. If the child doesn't have a mastectomy, what they do is they bind their breasts and they wrap their chest, which can be really, really uncomfortable and it does affect breathing and-
Beth Demme (30:21):
And it's just too hot. It's just too hot to ask somebody to do that. I mean, it's hot to just wear a bra. Come on, people.
Yeah, I know. I know.
Beth Demme (30:29):
Is Jay attracted to females or to males?
He is attracted to females. He considers himself a straight transgender male.
Beth Demme (30:40):
Okay. That's actually not complicated.
And as far as bottom surgery, there are a lot of transmen out there that choose not to have bottom surgery. I don't know what Jay will decide. It really scares me a lot because there are a lot of complications to bottom surgery. But there are many transmen out there and transwomen, they meet someone who loves them for who they are and they realize they don't have to change their body. And I guess I'm pulling for that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:21):
When Jay transitioned to call me Jay, I'm a boy, did he pick that name?
He did not.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:29):
He struggled. I would say we probably struggled for, oh gosh, about 10 months on what name to use.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:40):
And he would try some on for size. And then we never really went public with any of them, but he would try them and we would suggest them and nothing really clicked. And I just remember one night when I was telling him goodnight, and he said, "But my birth name was so special to me because you and dad gave it to me." And this was around Christmas time. And I remember telling him, I'm like ... That's why I asked him, I said, "Well, do you want your dad and I to rename you for your birthday?" And he said, "Will you?"
Beth Demme (32:17):
And I said, "Yeah." When we presented him with his birthday cake that year, we sang happy birthday to him. And when we opened the box to the cake, that's when he saw his name and he heard his name.
Beth Demme (32:33):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:33):
Beth Demme (32:34):
I bet that was a really special moment.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:36):
That's so cool. Well, that's an amazing way how the name came about. Wow. I was curious though, because you mentioned in the journal that he wanted to be named Nick. Did that ever come up, that he-
It did, it did.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:49):
Okay, but that didn't-
And we asked him, "Well, what about Nick?" And he's like, "Eh, no, I'm not-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:53):
... feeling that." And I think it did take a while for him to feel ownership of that name. Just because you spend 12 years of your life being called something and you have to switch that off.
Beth Demme (33:12):
It's interesting, too. It's really sweet that he would say, "Well, my first birth name was special to me because you and dad chose it from me." It highlights the reality that Jay is just trying to live into who he is. He's not trying to reject you. He's not trying to reject himself. He just is embracing everything about who he is. That's really special.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:35):
Does he feel like he has to call himself a trans male or does he just say like ... If he meets someone new, does he feel like he has to share that? Or is he just like, people just know him as Jay, a boy, why would they think anything else?
Yeah. I mean, he just wants to be Jay. And he's really looking forward to going away for college. I think he wants to be Jay. He doesn't want to be Jay, the trans guy. And so I think he feels like he has a giant target on him and he has all of this unwanted attention. And so the trans community, they call it stealth. They just want to be stealth. And so there are some people that wave the flag high and proud and they're like, yes. And everything is trans this or they're constantly letting everyone know that they are gay or trans. But Jay is not like that. He just wants to be and he doesn't want his transgender status to define him.
Beth Demme (34:45):
When he does go to college, there won't even be a question. He'll just live in a male dorm, right? Because dorms are still ... Every school that I've looked at with my kids, anyway, at least by floor, a building might be co-ed, but the floors are not co-ed. But there won't be [inaudible 00:35:01].
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:02):
Yeah, I was on a floor that was co-ed.
Beth Demme (35:04):
Oh, you were?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:04):
Beth Demme (35:04):
I know we looked at-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:05):
A bunch of football players.
Beth Demme (35:06):
Yeah, I didn't come across that-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:08):
The room is-
Beth Demme (35:09):
... at any of the schools.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:10):
My room was for girls, but the whole-
Beth Demme (35:13):
But the next term could be-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:15):
Yeah, could have been boys. Yeah.
Yes, yes. And that's the way it is for my older child.
Beth Demme (35:19):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:21):
Is Jay looking forward to going to college?
I think he is. He has the same concerns that any kid would have. He's worried about like, "Ooh, if I pick this major, am I going to be able to deal with some of these hard classes?" And so he's just trying to set himself up for success. But I think, socially, he's just really, really excited about meeting people and not having that huge Scarlet Letter-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:51):
Yeah, just being himself.
... on him. Yeah, yeah.
Beth Demme (35:54):
You mentioned bottom surgery and that may be where this question comes in. But I guess I've heard people talk about fully transitioning, so that would be surgical.
Yes. I mean, I think that would be the changing of the name, the changing of the pronouns, changing their body surgically so that they look like that gender.
Beth Demme (36:17):
It makes complete sense to me that that is maybe the most personal decision ever and that it's really nobody's business. But yet I think that it's a question that probably will come to my mind every time I meet a trans person. But it's really none of my business. I need to check myself.
Right. I mean, I know I've had a conversation with the transman before and he just shared with me like, "I have had a hysterectomy. I have not had bottom surgery." And this man, this grown man, has a full beard. If you saw him in public, you would not know-
Beth Demme (36:57):
That he needed a hysterectomy.
Exactly, exactly. And he's married, he has a child. And so, I mean, I think it's awesome that he didn't have to put himself through that.
Beth Demme (37:11):
What would you say to someone who, in their own ignorant, just throws their hands up and says, well, I don't know why people have to go around changing their gender? What are we doing here?
There is not a parent on the planet that would say, sign me up, give my kid type 1 diabetes, give my kid epilepsy, make my kid transgender. No one asked for it. We are just doing the best to keep our kids healthy, both physically and emotionally. And I would love it if my kid did feel happy in his own body. And I would be thrilled if his brain gender matched his body gender, but it doesn't. So what am I going to do? I have to do something.
Beth Demme (38:02):
You're going to love him.
Beth Demme (38:03):
You're going to recognize him as a transgender man, which is what you've done.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:13):
Well, I want to thank you for being here because just listening to you talk and having you here is just like, you're a mom and you want to do everything you can for your kid. And that is like, you're just like any mom out there, any parent out there. That's all you want. It's so clear to see it makes sense because that's what you want. You want to do everything you can and you have done that. And I applaud you for loving your kid. It sounds like your son had the best parents because they didn't have to go through you not believing them.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:52):
I mean, you saw it, you documented it. You pretty much knew it before he said the words to you. I want to thank you so much for being here and chatting with us, because this was really good information. And I now know a mom of a transgender kid. I'll add it to my list of things that I know. And now I have so much more information. I love this.
Beth Demme (39:15):
It's good to have more information. Yeah, thank you so much, Lisa, for being here and also for being patient with us as we try to find our way through the right words and understanding that we never want to be disparaging to Jay or to anyone who is transgender. We just don't always know the right things to say because we're all learning.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:32):
Right. That's the correct terminology, is transgender male or Jay.
Yes. And a lot of people will say someone's transgendered, and that's not the correct terminology, so someone is a transgender male. And not to use or to say, would be inappropriate to say he's a transgender.
Beth Demme (39:59):
Okay, so transgender male or transmale? Either-
Beth Demme (40:03):
Okay. Or just male.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:06):
He's a guy. He's a dude.
Beth Demme (40:09):
Or he's just Jay.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:10):
Or just Jay.
There we go. There we go.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:12):
Oh, and the term dead name is the name that they were-
The birth name.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:17):
The birth name.
Yeah. And a lot of people use that. They use that terminology dead name. I don't know.
Beth Demme (40:25):
It's pretty dramatic, yeah.
We don't have negative feelings about his previous name, but it's all with intention. If someone accidentally ... We might run into someone that we haven't seen for a long time and they'll misname my child, and I don't make a big deal about it. I usually correct with their correct name. And of course, the person apologizes. And I'm like, "Oh, it's not a big deal." But we have had kids at school that have used his birth name and they've done it because they're trying to hurt him. And I would say that that's only happened once or twice, but it was done intentionally to create harm and to bully. And that's really not cool.
Beth Demme (41:22):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:25):
At the end of each episode, we have questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show that Beth will read and leave a little pause between for you to answer to yourself. Or you can find a PDF on our Buy Me a Coffee page.
Beth Demme (41:36):
Number one, do you know any transgender people in your life? Does that impact your opinion of transgender people in a positive or negative way? Number two, how do you know what gender you are? Have you ever questioned it? Number three, has this conversation changed your view of the LGBTQ+ community in any way? Why or why not? And number four, can you show support for something without fully understanding it? How do you show support?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:09):
This has been the Discovering Our Scars podcast. Thank you for joining us.
Discovering Our Scars is produced by Stephanie Kosopoulos and Beth Demme.