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Penel is like many 8-year-old boys.
He thrashes about practicing superhero kicks in front of a mirror.
He collects colorful dinosaur toys.
He sports a short haircut: high and bushy on the top and close cropped on the sides.
He's boisterous, outspoken, and full of toothy smiles.
Yet, in one crucial way he's different.
He was assigned "female" at birth.
This hasn't stop his mother, Jodie Patterson, from loving him.
A new short documentary film from Cosmopolitan magazine shines a hopeful spotlight on the ongoing path towards discovery and acceptance of Penel's boyhood within Patterson's family.
Patterson is a 45-year-old black woman entrepreneur and a former Zac Posen public relations director who founded and operates DOOBOP, an online emporium for hair care, skin care, makeup and other beauty products with her French-born husband, Benjamin Bernet, a former L'Oreal marketing executive. Patterson also owns the hip, organic Soho boutique and salon, Georgia.
Even when Penelope was a toddler, Patterson noticed that he identified as a boy.
"I said, 'What's wrong baby, why are you always so upset?' And [Penel] said, 'Because everyone thinks I'm a girl ... I don't feel like a boy, mama. I am a boy.'" Patterson recollects in the short documentary film.
Rather than censuring his gender expression, Patterson affirmed him.
Her family is now figuring out how to meet all the obstacles that come with raising a transgender child. Among these are Penel's apprehension about feminizing as his body begins to transform in the first blushes of pre-adolescence.
Recently, Patterson updated Penel's name from Penelope.
They are also thinking through the challenges of hormone therapy and surgery in light of their commitment to organic, non-synthetic foodways, skincare and body-enhancing products.
Over and over again, the film drives home two essential, overlapping truths: love makes a family, and love makes the boy.
Watch the documentary, below.