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“I’m not the mother of a son. I’m convinced that I’m the mother of a transgender daughter.”

Marlo Mack’s podcast, How To Be A Girl, is one of the most original, important, and current pieces of audio to come out in recent times. It tells the story of her transgender child, M, who was born with a penis, but identified as a girl almost immediately.

“Six years ago, I gave birth to my first and only child…When he was two years old, my son began insisting on wearing pink clothes—preferably ones with lots of ruffles and sparkles on them.

“When he turned three, he begged me to buy him some dresses, and wear his hair long,” says Mack.

Jordan Raskopoulos discusses the hit TV show Transparent and its representation of transgender characters. (Post continues after audio.)

This isn’t just a story about a transgendered child. It’s a story that asks us to think about socially-constructed gender. What makes a girl, a girl? Surely it’s not just about putting on a dress instead of shorts. Mack’s child, M, wants really long hair. It’s a traditionally feminine trait, but does it make M female?

“Now that I have a daughter instead of a son, what does this mean for her, other than letting her wear pretty dresses and using different pronouns?” Mack asks.

In this video, Mack asks her daughter to give advice to other transgender kids. Her answer is brave, hopeful, and incredibly beautiful. (Post continues after video.)

Awareness around trans issues has come a long way. Popular actors like Orange Is the New Black’s Laverne Cox—who M was lucky enough to meet—continue to speak about issues affecting transgender youth.

As open-minded as we’ve become, there’s not much discussion about how to bring up a transgender child. For parents who want to do the right thing, it’s still a bit of a mystery.

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Mack asks, and answers, the tough questions in the podcast: how does a young child really know if she’s transgender? Is it just a phase? If she were to change her mind and be a boy, would she be screwed up? What’s it going to be like when she’s a teenager? When she’s a high-school girl with a penis?

She admits that she struggled with it at first. But when she realised it wasn’t just a phase, she accepted and embraced her daughter’s transgenderism.

“I finally let my little boy go,” Mack says. “I’m not the mother of a son. I’m convinced that I’m the mother of a transgender daughter.”

raising a transgender child

Image courtesy of How To Be A Girl.

Mack talks about splitting up with her child’s father, and re-entering the dating world. She met someone on OKCupid she thought was great, but hiding at the bottom of the profile was one giant red flag: "No trannies, please". To her, this was unforgivable.

Her daughter’s dating life is a little more complicated. Mack does wonder if her child will find it hard to navigate relationships in the future. But M says she believes in love, and knows what it is.

A healthy, normal transgender childhood is not something parents often prepare for. But whether you’re a parent or not, understanding transgenderism is so important for everyone. And on a wider scale, it shakes up our ideas about gender in a really good way.

As Mack says, “Maybe as you get older, you start to realise that all those things you get hung up on, like gender, are just bullsh*t anyway.”

You can listen to the podcast, How To Be A Girl, here.

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