"We bought shirts and shorts. And where Sophie had been wearing two piece swimsuits we switched over to pirate-themed shorts and sun tops — ones that made her identify as a boy,” they said.
After changing her wardrobe, they all agreed to change her name to Jake. They also explained the transition to her big sister.
“At first she started to get upset and say, ‘I want my sister back,’ Sophie’s parents said. “She got time with the therapist to talk it through and they worked out what she could say to her friends. After that she was fine.”
Last fall, their family decided to go public with Sophie’s transition at school, church, and in their community.
“We were so nervous as we knew people would judge us. I was ready for a fight,’ Sarah said. “My sole priority was making sure no one hurt my child. I wasn’t going to allow anybody to make him feel bad.”
To their surprise, they found immense support at both church and Sophie’s school. Their minister even welcomed transgender speakers to present one Sunday to educate the congregation.
Sophie’s teacher helped create a supportive classroom environment by reading a book about a transgender child.
“We found a book called When Kathy is Keith about a male to female transition and the teacher read it to the kids and talked about how Sophie feels like the character in this book. Thank goodness it was pretty smooth. The kids just accepted it. Everyone switched to Jake and life went on.”
Sarah and Yuri are now researching how to navigate the process as Sophie gets older and experiences puberty.
"We will have to start making decisions — about whether we will need to give him puberty blockers and hormones or more. I’m part of a parent online support group, we speak to parents in the middle of the process. So we are prepared,” the Browns explained.
The Browns are thankful to have this eye-opening experience from their child.
"I am so proud of Jake for staying true to himself and so grateful he is my child,” they said. He has challenged my narrow definitions of gender and made me a better person. He has forced us all to re-examine our beliefs.”