On her youngest child’s second day of kindergarten, Betsy received a phone call from her child’s school, which told Betsy, “Your child just said something incredibly disturbing, so you need to come to the school immediately and discuss this.” Betsy rushed to school, and the Vice Principal welcomed her into the office and said, “Your child told their teacher: ‘I have a secret, I am going to be a girl when I grow, please call me she.’ What do you expect me to do about this?” Betsy was stunned – not by her child’s disclosure but by the way that the school was handling it. Although she did not have much experience or knowledge about transgender people, her reaction and response to the Vice Principal was immediate: “Well, call her ‘she’ then,” Betsy said. “As a parent, your first instinct is always to defend your child,” she explained.
Betsy returned home and began reading everything she could about transgender people, and she shared the news with her husband. They understood pretty quickly the importance of affirming and supporting their child. “Transgender people are 10 times more likely than members of the general public to attempt suicide—a statistic that’s driven in part by the fact that transgender people experience more discrimination, harassment and violence just because of who they are,” Betsy said. “There’s something else at work in that statistic too, though: Sometimes transgender people, especially children, are told – or forced – to hide their authentic selves, which can really damage their self-esteem. We didn’t want any of this for our daughter. Neither myself nor my husband grew up in supportive homes, and we swore we were going to be different than our parents. So, even though we were surprised by the news, we chose to support our daughter.”