Avery Jackson is just a regular 7-year-old. She describes herself as someone who “likes to climb trees, be a ninja, dress up as different animals…”
And then she ends with this kicker: “… and oh yeah, I’m transgender.”
After seeing another transgender child share their story on YouTube, she decided she too wanted to share her story as part of The New York Times’ Transgender Today series. According to her dad, Tom, Avery is sharing her journey because “she is proud of who she is and wants to help other kids like her to change the world.”
In a video diary called “Avery Chat,” Avery admits she’s “just a normal girl.” She’s totally into Girl Scouts and “being a ninja” just like every other girl her age.However, she also explains what makes her different, and in the process, sets an amazing example of tolerance and acceptance.
Not unlike many transgender children, Avery was initially scared to tell her parents, Debi and Tom, what she felt.”When I was born, doctors said I was a boy, but I knew in my heart I was a girl,” she said. “Even though I was a girl, I was afraid to tell my mom and dad, because I thought they would not love me anymore or throw me out or stop giving me any food or anything.”
“Finally I had to tell my mom and dad I was a girl, because it was so frustrating, I could not hold it in,” says Avery. “It was so hard to not be who I really was and have them treating me like a boy when I really was a girl.”
When Avery was 4 years old, she finally said the words that would change her and her family’s life forever.
“I am really a girl, I am a girl on the inside.”
Her parents reacted in the most beautiful way possible: they accepted the revelation wholeheartedly. Because her father Tom — who wrote a moving essay published in The New York Times — and his wife “would much rather have a happy, healthy daughter than a dead son.”
Not everyone was accepting of Avery’s transition, she admits. “When I started to dress like a girl in preschool, my friends were cool with it, but their parents weren’t. They thought it was contagious, like Transgender Pox or something.”
However, Avery has taken the changes in her life in total stride. “My new friends know me as the girl I am in my heart and brain,” she explains.
She also has the perfect response when people ask her about using the women’s bathroom: “Who cares about my body parts? I don’t ask what’s in your underwear!”