Transgender Boy Finds His 'Bros,' And Himself, At Camp

Mar 3, 2017
Originally published on March 6, 2017 11:23 am

Chris López always knew there was something a little different about her youngest child, Gabe. Although assigned female at birth, Gabe, 9, always knew he was a boy.

Things really changed for Gabe when when he spent a weekend at a camp for transgender kids when he was 8 years-old.

"I met three best friends — Luke, Brock and Cooper," Gabe says. "They were all transgender like me, so they all wanted to be boys. That's why I say we're bros. We know each other."

Even though Gabe found friends like him, he does have questions, and concerns, about growing up transgender.

"I've been wondering if when I'm older, a lot of people will try to hurt me or something," he says.

His mom, Chris, asks Gabe if he was ever worried about telling her that he was transgender.

He says he was, and that he wanted to try and tell her, but changed his mind about four times before he told her.

"I was worried that you liked me as a girl," he says. Gabe says the two used to have a lot of fun — and that they still have fun today.

"So it doesn't matter if you're a boy or a girl, right?" Chris asks.

Gabe started the conversation about being transgender with Chris, but she wishes she had initiated it.

"I didn't know that you were dealing with that on your own," she says. "If I'd known, I would have tried a little bit harder to have that conversation with you, and maybe start it myself."

Even though Gabe has his "bros," Chris says she still worries for her son's future.

"I worry about how other people might treat you," she says. "It makes me upset to think about what you might have to go through."

Neither knows what the future will hold for Gabe, but Chris is sure of one thing: "You amaze me every day," she says.

"And you can tell me anything, anytime, anywhere, and it won't change how much I love you. I'll always have your back.

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Von Diaz.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

For many kids, the advice to just be yourself can be pretty scary. Today on StoryCorps, we'll hear from an Arizona family helping their son to do just that. Chris Lopez always knew there was something a little different about her youngest child, Gabe. Although assigned female at birth, Gabe always knew he was a boy.

When he was 8 years old, Gabe came to StoryCorps with his mom to talk about how a weekend at a camp for transgender kids transformed his life.

CHRIS LOPEZ: Do you remember when things really changed for you?

GABE: We went to a camp. And I met three best friends - Luke, Brock and Cooper. They were all transgender like me. So they all wanted to be boys. That's why I said we're bros. We know each other.

LOPEZ: It was pretty cool to see you guys together.

GABE: Yeah.

LOPEZ: Do you ever get scared about what it's going to be like to grow up transgender?

GABE: I've been wondering if when I'm older a lot of people will try to hurt me or something. Or...

LOPEZ: Like if they find out that you were born a girl and they have a problem with it? You think that they might try to hurt you in some way?

GABE: Yeah.

LOPEZ: Were you ever worried about telling me that you were transgender?

GABE: Yes.

LOPEZ: Did you ever try to tell me and then change your mind?

GABE: Mm-hmm.

LOPEZ: How many times do you think?

GABE: Think like four times.

LOPEZ: Four times?

GABE: I was worried that you liked me as a girl.

LOPEZ: 'Cause we used to have a lot of fun?

GABE: Mm-hmm.

LOPEZ: Do we still have fun?

GABE: Mm-hmm.

LOPEZ: So it doesn't really matter if you're a boy or a girl, right?

GABE: Yeah.

LOPEZ: I didn't know that you were dealing with that on your own. If I'd known, I would have tried a little bit harder to have that conversation with you and maybe start it myself.

GABE: Do you worry about me?

LOPEZ: I worry about how other people might treat you. And it makes me upset to think about what you might have to go through. You amaze me every day. You can tell me anything, anytime, anywhere, and it won't change how much I love you. I'll always have your back.

GABE: Thank you, Mom.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHARLES ATLAS' "PHOTOSPHERE")

GREENE: Gabe Lopez with his mom, Chris Lopez, in Tucson, Ariz. Their conversation will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.