Having a child come out as transgender may be one of the biggest challenges a family will face, but two Canadian parents have handled their son’s transition without skipping a beat.
As 15-year-old Ace Peace of Calgary, Alberta, explains it, he always “felt different” as a kid. It wasn’t until he got a little older that Ace realized he was a boy who was living in the wrong body. Sticking with a nickname he’s had since he was a toddler, Ace came out to his family a year ago to an outpour of support. And his mother, Lindsay, decided to take her acceptance a step further.
Over the past decade, Ace’s father Steve, a tattoo artist in Calgary, had tattooed portraits of the couple’s three children on his wife’s arm. As Lindsay now saw it, her body artwork was in desperate need of an update. The tattoo of Lindsay’s oldest son still showed him as a little girl wearing pigtails, and as Ace told his mother, seeing the original tattoo made him sad.
To “fully represent” Ace’s new life, Steve changed Lindsay’s tattoo and posted the amazing touch-up to his Facebook page. Ace was transformed from a little girl in pink to a little boy in blue, and he couldn’t be happier.
Lindsay’s tattoo switcheroo isn’t just clever, it’s a beautiful gesture that any transgender child would love to receive from their parent. When a child makes a big announcement like this, it’s one thing to say that you love and accept them, and it’s quite another to continue to act it out in everyday life.
This parental acceptance is one area where the transgender community is struggling, partially because the acceptance of gender transition, especially among children, is still so new. And it’s taking its toll on the kids: Transgender suicide rates are through the roof, with as many as 41 percent of trans or gender-nonconforming people attempting suicide compared to 4.6 percent of the overall population. The Human Rights Campaign estimates that 26 percent of LGBT youth consider this lack of family acceptance as their biggest problem, along with getting bullied at school and fear of living life out in the open.
With a growing movement of trans acceptance online — and a lot of influence from notable figures like Caitlyn Jenner and Jazz Jennings — the tide is slowly starting to turn. We do hear tragic stories of transgender teens who have taken their own lives, but we also see beautiful moments from parents who openly accept their transgender kids, like the Peaces. Last year, a viral video swept the Internet of the Whittington family, who celebrated the transition of their 7-year-old son, Ryland without any question. This year’s viral tearjerker was a video where a mom captured surprising her transgender teen daughter with female hormones for the first time, which her daughter called one of the best moments of her life.
When you think of it that way, you can understand where these parents are coming from. Showing continued acceptance through actions — by altering a tattoo or calling a transgender child by their new name — is one of the most significant ways to say, “I love you no matter what.”