Emily Baines
December 06, 2015 2:37 pm

So often, we at Hello Giggles read stories about transgender and gender non-conforming children who don’t receive the support they deserve from their families. So we are always happy to celebrate when parents respond to their children’s identities with unconditional love. Beth and Russ Sr. McGarrity are two such parents. Their children, born Russ and Aly, are both trans– and told  their parents just a month apart.

Beth and Russ Sr. McGarrity always suspected their children weren’t comfortable with their assigned identities, especially the older child Russ, who was assigned a male gender at birth. While Russ’ parents had known for years that Russ did not fit neatly within society’s narrow standards of masculinity, they were unsure of what that meant and they felt ill-equipped to define their son . “I knew what being transgender was,” Beth told Good Housekeeping, “but it really wasn’t as big of a topic of discussion as it is now.”

No matter what, the two always wanted Russ to know Russ had their support and love.

“We support you,” Beth and Russ Sr. would say. “But are you sure you want to wear that pink shirt to school today? It might cause you some issues.”

And, as expected, it did. Russ was picked on constantly at school. School administrators, not knowing how to handle the situation, became bullies in their own right.

For instance, Russ spilled water on a purse and hurried into the women’s restroom with a female friend to empty its contents. Russ emerged to find a school official waiting. The official threatened Russ with expulsion. As Russ broke down at dinner and told Beth and Russ Sr., this meant that no bathroom would feel right to use at school.

“I did not choose this for myself,” Russ wept as Russ’ parents listened. “I wish there was a way that I could not be this way.”

At the same time, Russ remained resolute: “I would rather be hated for who I am,” he said, “than loved for who I am not.”

Wow. And to think we cite super heroes as examples of bravery. It’s people like Russ who really deserve that label.

Meanwhile, Russ’ sister Aly was also struggling with identity. Not that the family realized this at first. Aly kept quiet about these struggles while maintaining excellent grades in junior high. Aly knew their parents had enough on their plate with Russ’ hardships, and didn’t want cause any more conflict.

One night when their parents were out of the house, Aly broke down and told Russ. Aly watched some videos on YouTube and it was a revelatory experience. Aly first confided in Russ, who convinced Aly to come out to their parents that night.

“I’ve figured out what’s going on with me,” Aly told Beth that night. “I know that I’m transgender. I’ve always wanted to be a boy. 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.”

Instead of arguing or questioning Aly, Beth held her tight. “I’ll support you no matter what,” she said.

A month later, Russ opened up to their parents and explained that, like Aly, Russ was also transgender. Both siblings received counseling and decided to go ahead with gender reassignment surgery. Throughout the process, the family has remained close and supportive.

Now Russ, age 20, goes by Rai, and Aly, 17, goes by Gavin. And their parents are thrilled.

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

Russ Sr. chuckled as he recalled the years when he and Beth were starting their family and hoping for a boy and a girl. “As it so happened,” he said, “we did have one of each — just in a different order than we originally thought.”

“It’s like Christmas every morning now,” Beth added. “I can see the happiness on Rai and G’s faces.”

We applaud the McGarrity family, and wish we could read even more stories of families embracing the identities of trans and gender non-conforming kids.

Readers who wish to learn more about gender identity can do so through the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network or the Family Acceptance Project.

(Image via Twitter)

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