The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #94: Raising a Transgender Child

Eight years ago, Marlo Mack (not her real name) gave birth to a boy.


Or, at least, that’s what she thought.

Three years in, Marlo’s kiddo was insisting that he was a she. At first, Marlo just figured she had a different kind of boy. A boy who played with princesses and wore tutus and liked to have long hair. But Marlo’s kid made it clear: she didn’t just need girl things. She needed to be *seen* as a girl.

Marlo's daughter

Marlo’s daughter

Self-portrait by Marlo's daughter

Self-portrait by Marlo’s daughter

Marlo wanted to do right by her child, but it was so hard to know what was right. She had all kinds of questions—they’re the questions you’re probably wondering, too.



Marlo went into research mode, and ultimately decided that forcing her kid to be a girly boy was not the route she wanted to take.


But what would it mean to raise a girl who she’d initially thought was a boy. And WTF is a girl, anyway? Marlo started a podcast, to help herself work through these super perplexing questions. It’s called How to Be a Girl. And it’s a must-listen.

Tune in to this week’s episode to hear Marlo talk about mourning the loss of her boy, celebrating her girl, and navigating the minefields of school, playdates, and bathroom bills with a transgender child. Plus, Marlo’s kiddo comes up with one of the best superpowers of all time.

Resources for Parents of Transgender Kids

Marlo felt totally lost when she first had a feeling her child might be transgender. Here are some resources she’s found helpful.

Trans Youth Family Allies provides resources for parents, educators, healthcare practitioners and youth about gender identity and expression.

PFLAG Transgender maintains local chapters of parents supporting LGBT children.

Gender Odyssey organizes conferences on gender variations and provides support for families and communities.

Gender Spectrum seeks to create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for all children and teens through consultations, trainings, and events. They even have a Spanish language support group.

In addition to her podcast, Marlo writes a blog about life with her daughter. Gendermom is a valuable resource for anyone who has a trans kid—or thinks they might have a trans kid—and for people who want to be more informed about the first generation of trans kids who are allowed to live in a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. This post is a great place to start.

And this charming animation tells the start of Marlo and her daughter’s story.

Also check out our series on The Accidental Gay Parents, for the perspective of a trans parent!

How do you talk to YOUR kids about gender? How did your parents talk to YOU?
And what makes a girl a girl? Your thoughts, please.

Illustrations: Marlo Mack

Our sponsors for this episode are Kiwi CrateHooked on Phonics,  Chatbooks, Thirdlove and Horizon Organics. Use these links to access special deals for LST listeners! 

As an Amazon Associate, The Longest Shortest Time earns a small commission from qualifying purchases.