Families come in many different shapes and sizes, and no one knows that better than families with a parent or child who is transgender.
These families deserve to be celebrated on special days when we recognize everything that parents do to help their children, and our society, thrive. That’s why for Mother’s Day we’re sharing the stories of two families who are not only working to make the best life possible for their kids, but are also speaking out to help pass #TransBillNH.
For more than 60 years, Stephanie Cawley did the same thing whenever someone asked her if she was transgender—she lied. Keeping that part of herself private seemed like the safest choice, be it at work, with friends, or out in public.
But one thing Stephanie swore she’d never do is lie to any of her three children. So when her oldest, Kay, asked her straight out, “Have you ever wanted to be a girl, Dad?” Stephanie knew the time had come do something different.
Kay asked Stephanie what was holding her back. A sea of worries—but mostly, the thought of losing her family to divorce. Stephanie worried too about facing discrimination, including financial hardship, because of New Hampshire’s lack of statewide non-discrimination laws. But Kay had a one-word answer for all of that.
She told her son Parker next. He wasn’t prone to verbal displays of affection, but after Stephanie let him know she was transgender—and after Parker had pulled up his jaw that had bounced hard off the floor—there were hugs, and six reassuring words: “I love you Dad. It’s okay.”
“‘Will you still be my Dad?’ asked Samuel. ‘Yes,’ Stephanie explained. ‘I will always be your Dad. I may look different than the other Dads, but I will always be your Dad.'”
Samuel, Stephanie’s youngest, got an incredulous look on his face, and didn’t hold back with his most pressing question: “Will you still be my Dad?”
“Yes,” Stephanie explained. “I will always be your Dad. I may look different than the other Dads, but I will always be your Dad.”
Stephanie, now living as the woman she’s always known herself to be, still values the ways that she was “Dad” to her children before her transition. Sometimes, her children still call her that. But they’ve started using a new term for the special day that celebrates the innumerable ways mothers enrich our lives, a combination of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day that Stephanie says was coined by transgender academic Jennifer Finney Boylan.
They call it, “Maddy’s Day.”
Christy Boyd is the proud mom of three girls. At a very young age her middle child, Lia, started to express herself in very feminine ways.
“We weren’t too concerned but assumed it was a stage that she was going through and that it was harmless for her to explore and play, as she was only in preschool,” Christy said. But as Lia got older, however, she grew more insistent that she be treated like a girl, not a boy.
“In kindergarten she started to get more dysphoric—she didn’t like her body and was depressed and frustrated,” Christy explained. “Getting dressed was a real challenge. She would ask me ‘Why can’t I just be a girl like my sisters? I feel like I’m a girl in my head and in my heart.’”
Christy and Boyd wanted desperately to help their daughter through whatever she was facing—but they didn’t have the words to even explain their daughter’s situation until one night, Christy happened across a documentary about transgender children.
After that, Christy knew what to do.
Her and Boyd found a Boston-area doctor who could guide them through what Lia was experiencing, and joined a local support group for parents of transgender children. In first grade, they started letting Lia where girls’ clothing to school, and requested that her teachers call her by her chosen name: Lia.
“Christy says raising Lia in the Granite State has been ‘a blessing’ and that she knows many parents have to work much harder to ensure their transgender children are protected from discrimination.”
By third grade, Christy says, Lia’s dysphoria had disappeared, and she was living happily as the girl she had known herself to be since she was three.
Christy says raising Lia in the Granite State has been “a blessing” and that she knows many parents have to work much harder to ensure their transgender children are protected from discrimination.
She knows, though, that without statewide non-discrimination protections, things could get more difficult as Lia gets older. That’s why she’s hoping lawmakers will act quickly to pass #TransBillNH next session.