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What We Learned From a Mother's Love for Her Trans Daughter

What We Learned From a Mother's Love for Her Trans Daughter


Love makes the girl in a life-affirming podcast about a mother and her 7-year old trans daughter.


Amid the tragic stories of transphobic violence and discrimination, sometimes a story that envokes warm fuzzies instead of righteous anger is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Enter Tuesday's broadcast of KCRW's Here Be Monsters, a podcast series produced by Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton. The series explores the human art of conquering fears and facing the unknown. And on Tuesday, the podcast featured the story of Marlo Mack and her transgender daughter, as Mack guides her daughter through the maze of disclosing her girlhood to her peers at a new summer camp.

Mack and her daughter also produce their own podcast called How to Be a Girl,while Mack blogs at Gender Mom. If the family name sounds familiar, it may be because the mother-daughter team was the subject of an equally heartwarming story that went viral earlier this year when Mack's daughter effortlessly approached iconic star and trans advocate Laverne Cox when the actress was in Mack's hometown.

Proving that a family is defined by love, not gender, here are the three lessons we learned from Mack's loving rapport with her transgender daughter:

1. Trans Kids Know Who They Are at a Young Age

When she was just 4 years old, Mack's transgender daughter told her mother that something went wrong in her mom's tummy, and she wanted to get back inside and come back out a girl. Yes, trans girlhood blossoms early, flowering out with a mother's understanding.

What's more, Mack's daughter proves that 7-year-olds know what trust, privacy and friendship are. When Mack's daughter opened up about her trans girlhood to her best friend in their neighborhood, her friend did not tell a soul -- including her own mother. The girl kept the secret like a jewel caught in glass, demonstrating that a 7-year-old is plenty wise enough to declare, "When you're transgender, you're more yourself."

2. A Mother's Love Is the Best Protection

The best protection is love and acceptance when a mom helps her trans daughter change into her bathing suit in the park bathroom, shielding her daughter's fears of revealing her body after an errant child sneaks a harmless peek under the stall.

Later, "deep stealth mode" is in full effect at the girl's new summer camp, since Mack's daughter does not want to reveal her body to the camp's teachers. But once again, her mother's strength will guide her through.

3. Acceptance Makes All the Difference

Mack's daughter had to fight for the first four years of her life to convince everyone around her -- even Marck -- that she is a girl. But as Mack opened up, eased out, listened carefully, and supported her daughter, she proved that that's the kind of love, the kind of fearless, powerful affection, and the kind of warm acceptance that we all so desperately need.

Listen to the full podcast below.

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Cleis Abeni

Cleis (pronounced like "dice") is a former correspondent for The Advocate.
Cleis (pronounced like "dice") is a former correspondent for The Advocate.