Having lived in Pennsylvania their whole lives, Jessica and her husband DJ knew they wanted to raise their family there. They decided to settle down in Jessica’s rural hometown outside of Allentown, with lots of farms and miles between neighbors. But it wasn’t long after the birth of their second child, Ally, before Jessica and DJ began to realize their family might be a little different. Ally is transgender, meaning she was born male but expressed from a young age that she is female. Living in rural Pennsylvania made it more difficult to find the right doctors and specialists for their child, but eventually Jessica and DJ were referred to a parent support program for families with transgender children in the Philadelphia area.
The summer between second and third grade, Ally transitioned and started leading her life as a girl. By and large, Jessica and DJ were floored by the incredible support they received for their daughter — but not everyone has been supportive. Some parents at Ally’s school took their concerns to the school board. “We knew that would probably happen in middle school, but we weren’t anticipating that happening so early,” Jessica said. “We were shocked. We weren’t ready for it – but we had to be. It can happen to anyone, and I think most parents can imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes. What if it was their child? We’re just trying to let her live the best life she can, the happiest she can.”