Son, Then Daughter, Reveal They Are Transgender a Month Apart

Two sibling teens — one born a boy and one born a girl — told their parents a month apart that they are transgender.

Beth McGarrity and her husband, Russ McGarrity Sr., of Loveland, Ohio, found out in 2011 that their daughter, Alyson — who now goes by Gavin — is transgender. A month later, their son, Russ Jr. — who eventually changed her name to Raiden — told her parents she is transgender, too. In a new interview with Good Housekeeping, Beth opened up about raising two transgender children. 

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As toddlers, the McGarritys’ children went through normal phases that many little kids go through: a tomboy daughter who liked to play soccer with boys and a son who liked to play dress-up and spend time with girls. But as her children grew up, these differences persisted, particularly for Raiden.

Before transitioning from male to female and while still resembling a boy, Raiden would wear makeup and bring a purse to high school, and she would get bullied because of her androgynous look. As a result, Raiden started missing school and fell into a depression.

Meanwhile Gavin, still appearing as a tomboy girl, was doing well in school and had lots of friends. But the McGarritys soon found out that he was also struggling with the female gender he had been born with. Shortly before his 15th birthday, Gavin, who had been researching gender identity online, shared with his big sister, Raiden, that what he had been feeling — that the sex he was born with differs from his gender identity — had a name: transgender.

Raiden encouraged Gavin to share how he was feeling with their mom, so Gavin told his mom that he is transgender. “I’ve always wanted to be a boy,” he said. “I never told you this, but when I was little, I would go to sleep and wish that I’d wake up a boy. Every time we did the wishbone at Thanksgiving and I won, I would wish that I was a boy.”

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Beth told Good Housekeeping that she was shocked, but she told Gavin that she would support her children no matter what. Gavin wanted to start transitioning to male after high school, including surgery to remove the breasts he was born with, but Beth asked him to think about it carefully since he was still young and make sure it’s what he wanted to do.

A month later, Raiden shared with her mom that she is transgender too. She told Beth about the years of anxiety and isolation she’d struggled with. “No matter what you tell me, I’ll still love you,” Beth reassured her. Raiden agreed to see a counselor, who connected her to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Transgender Program.

“I did not choose this for myself,” Raiden had told her parents, according to Good Housekeeping. “I wish there was a way that I could not be this way.”

But Raiden felt she needed to be true to herself, even though the outside world was less than understanding. “I would rather be hated for who I am,” she said, “than loved for who I am not.”

Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, told Good Housekeeping, “Theirs is an issue of gender identity, not sexual orientation. It’s a way of living, so it’s there all the time.”

The New Face of Transgender Youth

The solid support they receive at home is a lifeline to teens like Raiden and Gavin. LGBTQ teens experience a higher rate of bullying, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are twice as likely as their peers to be physically attacked, kicked, or shoved at school, the Human Rights Campaign reports. Many of their families abandon them. A national report in 2014 found that 57 percent of people who are transgender said their families stopped speaking to or spending time with them.

Transgender youth also have an alarmingly high suicide rate: The latter report found that 45 percent of transgender youth ages 18 to 24 had attempted suicide.

“This is not a choice,” Sarah Painer, a social worker who works with transgender program participants, told Good Houskeeping. “Nobody would choose a higher risk of murder and a higher risk of suicide.”

It was while Raiden was seeing doctors and counselors at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Transgender Program that the McGarritys learned it’s not uncommon for multiple family members to be transgender.

Raiden, now 20, started taking hormones to look more feminine and in January of this year underwent facial feminization surgery. Raiden has her own YouTube channel about her transgender experience and chronicling her yearlong transition; it has more than 60,000 subscribers and over 6.7 million views. Meanwhile, Gavin, now 17, will have top surgery to remove his breasts next summer.

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When Beth and Russ were thinking about starting a family, they had hoped for a boy and a girl. “As it so happened,” Russ told Good Housekeeping, “we did have one of each — just in a different order than we originally thought.”

Added Beth, “People ask me what I’ve lost, but I don’t feel that I’ve lost anything. I have my son and daughter the way they should be.”

(Photos: Facebook)

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