A new PBS Frontline documentary called Growing Up Trans focuses on a New Hampshire trans girl who is transitioning from “Liam” to “Lia.”
Lia’s mom, Christy Hegarty, says she was heartbroken watching her son struggle with his identity, noting that she thought his predilection to girls’ clothes and toys would mean he would grow up to be gay.
She says the boy grew depressed and angry and, at five years old, declared that, “I am a girl in my head and heart.”
“Around that time I saw a TV show about transgender children,” Hegarty told Frontline. “By the end of the segment I was bawling my eyes out. It was so clear to me. I knew it wasn’t a phase. I got online immediately and stumbled across a blogger, and she put me in touch with a doctor in Boston. This was the beginning of our journey and the search for support and guidance.”
By first grade, the family began to call Liam “Lia” and “she” instead of “he.”
Lia began to wear skirts to school after Hegarty called the school to let them know. She says the principal even offered to meet Lia when she arrived and escort her into school.
“Most of the kids were okay with it and some asked questions,” Hegarty recalls. “Lia was so confident and self-assured. She powered through. But when she came home that night, she was really sad – she told me that the principal had asked everyone over the loud speaker not to make fun of people who make different choices. When she realized people had laughed, she was disappointed. But it didn’t break her spirit.”
“That night at an event she went back to school with us and it was our debut as the parents of a boy who likes to dress in girls’ clothes,” Hegarty said. “Her bravery at that time was overwhelming to me.”
Lia is now 10 years old and even her birth certificate now reflects that her legal name is “Lia.”
In six months, Lia will start taking medication that will stop her from going through puberty which, her parents say, will allow her to choose what she wants to do with her body at a later age.
“At this point, Lia will tell you she wants to be a real girl, to have the anatomical parts match who she is on the inside,” Hegarty said. “I am 95 percent sure she will continue to grow that way. But it’s a big decision. It’s her decision, and all we can do is continue to learn and help guide her.”
Hegarty acknowledged the possible problems that could arise from the medication but says she’s willing to take the risk.
“If I can give my child a chance to live the life she so desperately wants to live, we might risk a side effect or two. But we go cautiously and have hope and faith.”
Image credit: Facebook (Lia)