“I have my son and daughter the way they should be.”
Beth McGarrity and her husband Russ were taken aback the first time they noticed people’s reactions to their two young children.
Fifteen years ago Alyson and Russie were aged just two and five and were playing at a suburban BBQ.
The outgoing mum from Cincinnati in the US noticed something slightly different about her children to the others there. It was only when guests questioned her about why her five-year-old son was upstairs playing dress-ups while her two-year-old daughter was outside with the boys playing soccer that the puzzle began to come together.
She says at the time she wished she had answered: “Because he’s having fun. Who cares?” but she held her tongue.
These days as the proud mother of two transgender teenagers, she doesn’t hold back, letting the world know how much she loves the kids the way they are.
Beth has told of how as the years passed it was her son who Beth and her husband focused on, wondering how the world would perceive him.
“Was he gay?” Beth told Good Housekeeping “or perhaps a straight male who loved the female look?”
Beth and her husband said they felt reluctant and ill-equipped to define it for him. “I knew what being transgender was,” Beth says “but it really wasn’t as big of a topic of discussion as it is now.”
Beth says she was worried. Her son was showing signs of depression and had been bullied at school for his androgynous look, and after an occasion at school when he used the female bathroom she says she feared he was at breaking point.
“I did not choose this for myself,” he told her crying. “I wish there was a way that I could not be this way”
Despite his struggle he was strong.
“I would rather be hated for who I am,” he told them, “than loved for who I am not.”
The family determined to support him were then blindsided when it was their daughter who was the one who approached them one day with something to tell them.
Aly was a fun-loving, sports mad 14-year-old. Her family had never given her gender identity a second thought.
But just a few days before her 15th birthday, she went to her brother with some news that she had realised she was transgender.
Together the siblings, united by their common bond, went to their parents.
“I’ve figured out what’s going on with me,” Aly told her parents with her brother at her side.
Good Housekeeping recounts the conversation:
“It’s going to be really hard,” Aly said to her mother. “I’ve had a lot of stuff going on in my head and haven’t wanted to tell you, because I knew you were dealing with a lot with Russ. But since we’re so close, and you can always tell when something’s bothering me, I know I have to tell you now. Moot, I’ve figured out what’s going on with me. I know that I’m transgender.