My daughter, Caitlyn Jenner, and Laverne Cox

As the mother of a young transgender child, my response to Caitlyn Jenner’s headline-grabbing announcement is a visceral one. Yes, I’m kind of put off by the hype. No, I’m not a big fan of celebrity culture or reality television. But when I look at the cover of Vanity Fair, and read the news articles that respectfully use Jenner’s new name and female pronouns, I’m overwhelmed by this new state of affairs, and by a world that might just be ready to accept my daughter. And that knocks me off my feet with awe and gratitude.

I called my friend Alice, a member of our support group whose trans daughter is a few years older than mine. “Did you see it?” I said. She knew what I was talking about.

“Of course,” she said. I could hear her shaking her head over the phone, as overcome as I was. What was there to say? The world seems to be changing, just in time for our beloved children.

Earlier this year, when I heard that Laverne Cox was coming to my home town, I sent Alice an email: “We have to take our girls to see Laverne!”

If you don’t know about the fabulous Ms. Laverne, she’s one of the stars of the TV series Orange is the New Black and she’s the first transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy.

Orange is the New Black isn’t really appropriate viewing for seven-year-olds, but I had shown M. the photo of Ms. Cox on the cover of TIME when it came out last year, so M. had a vague idea that this was someone important who was also transgender.  But I don’t think she really got it until we showed up for the event.

The line snaked out of the venue for half a mile. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house. We got there early enough to snag seats near the front, and when Ms. Cox walked into the room, the crowd went nuts. M. and Alice’s daughter went nuts, too, cheering and clapping for the glamorous lady everyone seemed to love so much.

I think ours were the only kids in the audience. Most of the speech went over their heads. But here’s the message that I hope got through to them: Here is someone who is talented and smart and famous and beloved by the multitudes – and she’s also like you.

A friend of a friend knew the event organizers, and she told us she might be able to sneak us into the smaller reception following Laverne’s speech. I kind of doubted that she’d remember to put our names on the list, so as M. sat on my lap, caught up in the frenzy of the crowd, I told her that she might (“just maybe”) get to meet Laverne that night.

“Really?” she said.

Our names were on the list. Laverne wasn’t there yet when we entered the private reception hall, but M. staked out a place near some doors at the far end of the room. There were multiple entrances. Why did she think Ms. Cox would come in through those particular doors? M. ignored my question and stood alone at the far end of the room, her back to me, her eyes glued to the doors.laverne1

She was right. A few minutes later, Laverne burst through those doors, and the crowd went nuts once again. But this time, a tiny person in a flowery sundress stood between her and that crowd, looking her in the face, waiting to be noticed.

laverne2Laverne waved her Hollywood wave at the crowd, thanked us graciously, and then looked down at the little girl blocking her path.

“Well, hello,” she said.

“I’m M.,” my daughter said.

Laverne smiled down at her. “Hello, M.”

“And I’m trans,” M. said.

I don’t think Ms. Cox saw that coming. The crowd around me gasped their approval (“Did you hear what that little girl said?”). Laverne seemed at a bit of a loss. She looked around the room. “Is anyone with her?”laverne3

I stepped forward. “I’m her mom.” Then I got tongue-tied in the face of celebrity, and forgot how to speak like a normal human. I have no idea what I said.

But M. knew what to do. She went in for a hug. Ms. Cox crouched down to meet M.’s hug at eye level, and as I frantically snapped photos for posterity, I heard her say to my daughter, “Remember, honey, transgender is beautiful.”

Thank you, life.

laverne4

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248 thoughts on “My daughter, Caitlyn Jenner, and Laverne Cox

  1. I loved this. I have given much thought to Caitlyn ‘ s story, as I have difficulty with the whole publicity ties. I have been trying to accomplish this without judgement. I do love Laverne Cox!

    Your story has helped me to see a new awareness (that my neice had talked about, that I just was not getting!). I thank you deeply for this♡ Many blessings to you. Many blessings to your daughter♡

  2. Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. The world really is changing and it’s happening right now. All the best from someone who’s been there too.

  3. Reblogged this on In Search of Well Being and commented:
    While I’m not transgender, I am gay. I know what it’s like to be young and scared of what people might think. I actually look up to this little girl for being so brave.
    You think you’re going to be in trouble, or people will make fun of you. Bottom line: who cares what others think? People are so quick to judge something as negative, just because it is different.
    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, please just try not to hurt others in sharing them.

  4. This totally hit me right in the feels. I saw the warm fuzzies coming from a mile away, there was no twist ending, and I was still overcome with all of the feels by the end.

    There’s also something especially awesome about the fact that your daughter and Laverne are wearing matching outfits.

    The way you advocate so strongly for your daughter, foster her ability to make informed decisions, and stay attuned to her thoughts and feelings is more than a little awesome. I wish I saw more parents like you for kids of all gender identities.

    Clearly, it’s not by chance that M. is shaping up to be one heck of an amazing kid. I imagine she’ll grow up to be a pretty incredible woman too. 🙂

  5. Reblogged this on Cintra de Vagabond and commented:
    This blog makes me so happy! I’m so glad this little sweetheart got to meet Laverne! Meeting other people just like you is so important and so many only get to do it when they’re older. I’m so happy she has such support and love and understanding.

    “Transgender is beautiful.” – yes we are!

  6. Tears. Congratulations on a wonderful daughter who met a spectacular woman, both of whom showed they have beautiful hearts. And your daughter’s mom is pretty impressive too!

  7. I do belive whole heartedly that you daughter will grow up to be a teenager in a world where there are less “boxes” and stereotypes than before. Oh, how I wish I could translate Emma Ellingsen’s (A Norwegian girl of thirteen years old, born male) blog to you. She was one of the participants in a documentary called “born it the wrong body”. (Ps. the title of the show sounds better in Norwegian). After this she was on a couple of tv-shows, where the conversation often went something like this:

    Host: “So Emma, you are starting high school tomorrow.. Are you nervous?”

    Emma: “No, I have my outfit picked out already, and I don’t think they will give us that much homework at first”.

    Host: “But are you worried that someone might tease you?”

    Emma, looking puzzled: “What do you mean?”

    Kids these days are much more tolerant than previous generations.

    I truly hope and believe that your kid will have the same experiences ❤

  8. Tears of joy…and so happy that there are so many amazing comments than those who do not understand, nor care to even have an open mind. Your daughter is very lucky to have you, and the support system you’ve been able to put into place!

  9. Does your “daughter” have Downs Syndrome? Why are you using your child for your own gain? Are you that needy of attention? A three year old cannot even put together the sentence you claim your child stated to you unless they were very well coached. I feel very sad for your manipulated child and see a lifetime of battles ahead.

  10. thank you for sharing your wonderful experience. i love the show Orange is the New Black and Laverne’s character is one of my favorites. I pray that times change swiftly so that trans gender people are finally not shunned like they are lepers. I am not trans gender but i know a few people and it is perfectly fine to be who you are and not be ashamed. Every one has something beautiful about them.. them being trans is the least important.
    This experience that you have shared has really touched my heart and i am so happy that you have not hidden from your daughter who she really is. what a brave young lady she is. such a beautiful thing to see! =]

    Please feel free to drop by my page at https://eatandtell1.wordpress.com/ which doesn’t have any similar topics shared, but rather, has to do with food. but would love to see you drop by =]

  11. This made me cry. Absolutely beautiful. A male friend of mine suddenly put a photo of himself on LinkedIn this week dressed as a woman. None of us knew about this side of him. I want to support him and show him, I mean her, that I am still a friend and that there is no judgement. Just support. I have to admit that it was Caitlyn Jenner that prepared me for my frame of mind as transgender wasn’t part of my world. It is now! Thanks so much for showing me a beautiful side to a new world that I’m now part of. xx

  12. This is such a lovely inspirational post, you have captured a special moment in such a perfect way. Your daughter will be able to look back at this and remember that moment forever. Just magical.

  13. I saw the article on Yahoo yesterday and I am so impressed that you are really making strides! I fully support you any chance I get. You’re such a strong woman to fight for your sweet little girl and I commend you although if you think about it this is what any good mother would do for her daughter! And you my dear are one of the best!

  14. I could hardly see through the tears when I read this in June. After reading an interview you gave I decided to re-read this. Now I am teary eyed again. You embody what it means to be a parent. Thank you.

  15. Oh ,my gosh I can barely see to type through my tears! This is beautiful and I am SO glad your daughter had this amazing experience and validation of her awesomeness! I am just SO sad that my transdaughter did not have a childhood like this. God bless you.

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  17. With absolutely no malice, I am curious as to how a seven year old, could be transgender. Can a child at that age really grasp gender issues? Tomboyish behaviour or girlish behaviour, usually begins to exhibit itself in teenage. How much more transgender? Can someone pls shed more light? I’m honestly confused

    • Oddly, when the child wanted to choose the name “Rainbow”, Marlo Mack made him pick another, presumably because that’s something for which a child’s word is insufficient. “Girls can have penises” is, alternatively, the sort of thing a child can know. Actually, one suspects that every part of ‘M’s gender identity comes from Mack, who started in with this when the child/victim was three, and has since made a career of talking about it.

  18. Hi there! I am brazilian, this story got really popular on internet, turned out I read it by the time you wrote it but I haven’t watched OITNB yet. Now that I watched it, and knew who was Laverne, I googled this story again, read it again and searched by the original, not the translated to portuguese ones, and anyway, I just wanted to say that your daughter is really lucky for having you and to grow in a moment where Laverne is here, giving voice to girls like M. Congratulations, hugs from Brazil!

  19. Thank you for your beautiful blog posts, I’ve reblogged this one because I wholeheartedly agree, the world IS changing for the better for your daughter, mine and all the other transgender kids out there.

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