Marlo Mack gave birth to a son. At least, she thought she did. But her son crawled towards dresses, wanted to be a princess, and asked to grow long blonde hair. At age 3, Marlo's son asked to go back into mommy's tummy, so he could come back out as a baby girl. Marlo thought it was a phase--it wasn't. So she began learning how to raise a very young transgender daughter. Along the way she kept an audio diary.
In this episode, Marlo sends her 7 year old child to a new summer camp, and struggles to give her the autonomy to reveal her gender identity to other children.
Marlo faces daily questions when raising her daughter. How much can she protect her in a world often unkind to trans folk? She tells her daughter that there are some people who are like Darth Vader, just too sad to be kind anymore.
Marlo Mack and her daughter produce a podcast about their life together called How to Be a Girl. Marlo generously gave us access to her raw recordings for use in this episode. How to Be a Girl is part of The Heard, a new podcast network. Marlo also writes a blog called Gender Mom.
Marlo Mack is a pseudonym. She will keep her and her daughter's true identities secret until her child is old enough to understand the risks of revealing her identity. These risks are real. 2015 has already seen the murders of at least 15 American trans women. So Marlo and her daughter exist in what they call "deep stealth mode."
When do you tell people that you're a girl with a penis? When is it safer to hide?
Music: The Black Spot
Marlo Mack produced this episode. Jeff Emtman edited it with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.
Resources for trans children and their parents:
Trans Youth Family Allies - For families of trans youth
The Trevor Project - Crisis and suicide prevention
YouthResources - Help for trans/LGBT youth
Human Rights Campaign - List of resources for trans youth
Self portrait drawn by Marlo's daughter
Marlo's daughter wants to grow her hair as long as possible
Marlo and her daughter after a manicure
Marlo's daughter meets transgender advocate and actress Laverne Cox