Family Shares Story Of How Jack Became Jackie

Family Shares Story Of How Jack Became Jackie
Family Shares Story Of How Jack Became Jackie

In a rural Ohio town where everyone knows your name and where traditions run deep, parents Michael and Lynn are raising Samantha and Jackie.

10TV News is not reporting the family's last name or location because of their privacy concerns. 

10TV's Ashleigh Barry visited the family and saw a typical scene in all but one respect.  Young Jackie began her life 11 years ago as a boy named Jack.

From the beginning, their children were very close but as time passed, Michael and Lynn noticed that Jack did not appear to be like other little boys in his preference for toys and colors.

He seemed to want exactly what his sister, Samantha, was playing with and the trend continued.

"It was extreme for Jackie," Lynn said.  "It wasn't just the occasional play with a doll or play dress up with my older sister.  It was when I'm playing, I'm the baby sister."

Jack took his role seriously.  So seriously that Lynn recalled a conversation they shared on a family shopping trip.

"At Walmart - I believe Jackie was three - (and) said, 'Why did God make me a boy?'" Lynn said.

The next year, Jack requested a very specific type of cake for his birthday, a princess cake with pink trim.

For another birthday, he received a Barbie doll and home video taken by the family showed his delight.

His excitement with what is traditionally known as "girl toys" was not a passing phase, Barry reported.

The time was fast approaching for Jack to leave the security of home and enter the wider world of school.   His parents said that they worried about his adjustment and the reaction of his classmates to his different choices of toys and activities.  Michael and Lynn became reluctant to continue allowing their son to play exclusively with girls' toys and encouraged Jack to put the dolls aside.

"At one point, we did try and stop it and took the Barbies away and said the Barbie fairy came and took the dolls away," Lynn said.

In spite of their gentle and sensitive approach, the loss of his beloved toys made Jack deeply unhappy.

"We had a sad child and you could tell that Jackie was just kind of pining away for the dolls," Lynn said.  "Then, we would start doing doll play with stuffed animals and other things around the house and we (thought) this is crazy.  There's nothing wrong with our child playing with these so we brought them all back."

Jack was happy again, spending his playtime mainly inside, behind closed doors where he experimented with makeup, danced in dresses and played with Barbie dolls.

His parents attempted to interest Jack with more conventionally masculine toys, but Jack's true happiness came from the sparkly, glittery things that he had loved since babyhood.

"We tried to discourage it," Michael said.  "When Jackie is little, it (was) OK for a boy to play with dolls, especially when they have an older sister, but then it didn't wear off."

"We tried the sports, the Scouts and a lot of activities, thinking something might eventually catch on - expose him to everything - and see what happens," Lynn said.

What happened was that Jack told his mother in his own words that he knew he was transgender.

"She said, 'I'm a girl and I can't do this anymore,'" Lynn said.

Jack reached the critical point just one week after turning 10 years old.  He told his mother that in every way except the physical, he was a girl.  From that moment on, Jack became Jackie.

A few months ago, Jackie started taking ballet classes a few months ago and performed in the recital.  She loves listening to Lady Gaga music and Jackie enjoys dressing up.

"It wasn't that I had immediate feelings of I'm going to deny it or we need to stop this, it was OK," Lynn said. "This is different.  Now we need to find out what we can do."

Michael and Lynn said that the well-being of their child was most important to them and they would take whatever steps necessary to ensure that Jackie could grow and flourish, just as she was.

"We thought we'd have to move to another community where we'd be more anonymous," Michael said.  "We thought it would be good for her and if there's bullying and people around or walk around the block safely or go out to eat without stares or whispers, I didn't think that would be a good place to raise a child."

If they moved, they felt they could establish Jackie's identity as a female and could protect her from the inevitable bullying and taunting from others.  Samantha said Jackie was no stranger to it already.

"They called her Little Gay Boy and when we went out in public, they'd ask if she was gay and stuff like that," Samantha said.

Although young, Jackie has remarkable strength, Barry reported.

"I didn't care because if they wanted to do it, then they'll do it but it doesn't bother me," Jackie said.

Armed with the strength and the support of her family, Jackie and her family decided to continue living in their own hometown.

"We've met other families in Ohio and know that there's at least a half dozen transgender people - children and adults in our own community - we had no idea that it was so close to us," Lynn said.

Public awareness of the transgender society is slowly growing, Barry reported.

According to Meral Crane, director of the Gender Dysphoria Program of Central Ohio, transgender children are coming out into the open and the general public is becoming more aware.  Crane said that she laments that the children have, for far too long, been the victims of psychological agony, bullying and, in certain cases, self-mutilation and suicide.

"They don't wake up one day and say, 'I think I'm going to be a boy,'" Crane said.  "That's not the point.  It's a sense of who they are."

Crane explained that gender dysphoria, or confusion about gender identity, is not a choice that a child makes.  It is an integral part of the child. Crane said she is optimistic about the futures of these children.

"That's what we're seeing these days, more and more enlightened families know about it and they've been observing it and they are the witnesses," Crane said.

They, like Michael and Lynn, are willing to share their experiences with others and let them know that they are not alone.

"We had no idea it was so close to us," Lynn said.  "When Jackie told me this and the first few weeks I thought we're probably one of two cases in the whole world -- I felt we were out there alone, there is no precedent -- it's just not so common."

"It scared us to death and I think we realized right off the bat that we're not going to let Jackie become one of those suicide statistics," Michael said.

They would not try to remake Jackie or force her to deny the person she believed she was.  Jackie would live her life as a girl, openly and without fear.

"Once she made that disclosure and started enjoying these things, there was no stopping it," Lynn said.

Jackie has many friends, a flurry of activities and a continuing journey ahead.  For now, she is busy enjoying life and being herself.

"I'm free as a bird," Jackie said.

Jackie will face a course of pituitary-blocking treatments as she enters puberty and further counseling.  Eventually she will undergo hormone treatments.

More Information:
World Professional Association For Transgender Health (PDF File)
Gender Spectrum Web Site | E-Mail
Medical Care/Practical Problems For Gender Variant Young People
Meral Crane:  The Gender Program Of Central Ohio