KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Last Friday the principal of Robinson Elementary School in Raytown sent a letter home to parents. The letter wasn’t about an assembly or trouble in the school, it was about one student dealing with gender identity. A boy named Adam was transitioning to be a girl named Jasmine.
The letter said the personal information was being shared with parental permission. It also said teachers would encourage students to be respectful.
When the story came out, it touched a Kansas City couple. It hit home because they have a six-and-a-half-year-old daughter who transitioned from being a boy when she was four.
Debi and her husband Tom love both of their kids unconditionally. It just so happens their youngest knew at a very early age, he was a she. Tom had his moment of clarity with his daughter while walking into a store restroom.
“I had her by the hand and we were walking into the men’s restroom and she froze dead in her tracks and said, ‘Dad, I can’t go in there.’ I was like, ‘Why not? You have to go to the bathroom.’ ‘But that’s the boy’s bathroom, I’m a girl.’ Now at four years old to have a child tell you that with all certainty and clarity, ‘It’s not I want to be a girl, it’s who I am,’ it was pretty eye-opening,” Tom explained.
At first they thought it was a phase, but it was real, so was the fallout to letting their son transition to a girl.
“We pretty much lost all of our friends and we lost some family, and we kind of had to just circle the wagons and let her get comfortable being who she was and go out and make new friends,” said Debi.
Debi and Tom still feel the disappointment. It’s easy for them to empathize with the Raytown family’s situation. They’re not sharing their story for the attention, but to educate.
“At some point somebody has to stand up and say something, and if there’s other families out there like this family in Raytown, and our story can help them, I think it’s our responsibility to say something,” said Tom.
Debi says in the transgender community, Tom’s attitude is unique. Generally, fathers are less accepting. Tom says it’s easy, he loves his baby girl.
“As we’ve now gone through two years of transition, I’ve got this feisty, fun, happy, intelligent little girl who’s letting her personality sparkle for the world, and who am I to tell her not to do that?” said Tom.
Debi had fears at first. She had no idea what transgender was or how to deal with gender identity. She later learned it’s a medical condition, something she quickly understood.
“When you have a child not quite four tell you that she’s a girl, where are they going to learn it? They didn’t learn it from us, didn’t learn it at daycare, didn’t learn it from other kids. It has to be something that is coming from such a deep, internal place, you can’t argue with it,” she said.