Tampa Bay mother shares journey of raising transgender son

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ABOVE: Jake celebrating Pride (Photo courtesy Sylvie Griffiths).

BRANDON | Community advocate Sylvie Griffiths and the non-profit Turnaround Life have begun publishing a blog series detailing Griffiths’ journey raising her eight-year-old transgender son.

Turnaround Life exists to provide diverse, inclusive systems of care through development, evaluation, education and capacity building. Griffiths was approached to write a blog for their website after she began working as a consultant for the organization.

Sylvie Griffiths, with Jake, at the Sweetheart Dances (Photo courtesy Sylvie Griffiths).

“It was initially a blog about my family,” Griffiths recalls. “I didn’t know at that point that it would revolve around Jake. It was a fluid process; I write about all of my children but there’s obviously a little more detail with what’s been going on in Jake’s life.”

Griffiths says Jake came out as transgender at six years old, something she was familiar with from her time working in social services with agencies like Metro Wellness and Community Centers and Empath Partners in Care. “It was kind of right in front of our face and we didn’t see it,” she says.

“There was a day that stands out where we went to the beach,” Griffiths recalls. “The only swimsuit I could find for Jake, who at least to us was still identifying with his birth name, was a bikini… he was furious with me and so upset. I couldn’t understand what was going on.”

It was that day that Jake shared with a family friend that he didn’t want to develop a feminine body as he aged, Griffiths says the friend advised her. “At six years old I know enough to realize that is not the average response,” she says.

Griffiths sought the advice of friends at Metro as Jake and an older sibling researched being transgender online. “A couple of weeks later my child said to me, ‘I am transgender.’ It was crazy. I know it’s not the normal pathway. I was still finding out who I was in my twenties and thirties, so to be six and say this is who I really am, we were amazed.”

One point of frustration was the lack of information available to Griffiths as she and Jake began their journey, prompting her to share their story with the world. “I looked for resources, I looked for parents’ blogs, I looked for books, and initially I didn’t find a lot out there,” she says. “I feel like having that connection with people can be such a resource.”

Her one concern was the exposure it may bring to her youngest child, but Griffiths says Jake loved the idea. “He’sthe baby so he likes attention,” she laughs. “To me, he loves being transgender. I couldn’t be happier, so I really wanted to make sure that this was okay with him. He wasn’t just happy, he was excited.”

To read about Jake’s journey, visit TurnAroundLife.org/News.

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