Beth and Russ McGarrity’s children are both transgender, but it is a long story behind the happy family they are today.
Alyson and Russie have shown signs of being transgender from an early age. At 2, Alyson would play with a soccer ball, while her 5-year-old brother was sorting pink dresses with other girls. Beth tried to suggest her son playing games for boys, but he replied, almost annoyed that he had fun. It was hard for Beth to be looked at, as none of her friends ever asked what was going on. However, the two parents would support their children, no matter what was going on.
When the children grew, and became adolescents, things became even more complicated. Russ was in high-school and Alyson in Junior High. Beth and Russ Sr. were not sure about what was going on with their son. Was he gay, or transgender? “I knew what being transgender was,” Beth recollects, “but it really wasn’t as big of a topic of discussion as it is now.” It was happening in 2011.
Russ was having a hard time at school because he was bullied for his looks. He wore make-up, skinny jeans and tops for girls. “We support you,” his parents would say. “But are you sure you want to wear that pink shirt to school today? It might cause you some issues.”
Russ had been bullied and judged at school over and over again, until he became depressed and refused to attend classes. “I did not choose this for myself,” he said. “I wish there was a way that I could not be this way.” He just wanted to be accepted for who he was. “I would rather be hated for who I am,” he said, “than loved for who I am not.”
Aly had her struggles too, but she avoided talking to her parents. It was her brother Russ who initiated the discussion. “I heard you like girls,” he said one day when they were home alone. “Is that true?”
“Well, it’s deeper than that,” his sister replied. 15-year-old Aly had already researched on the interned about gender identity, and she came to the conclusion that she was transgender. Russ advised his sister to talk to their mother, whom they called “Moot”. And so Aly did.
“I’ve had a lot of stuff going on in my head and haven’t wanted to tell you, because I knew you were dealing with a lot with Russ. But since we’re so close, and you can always tell when something’s bothering me, I know I have to tell you now. Moot, I’ve figured out what’s going on with me. I know that I’m transgender.
“I’ve always wanted to be a boy,” Aly confessed. “I never told you this, but when I was little, I would go to sleep and wish that I’d wake up a boy. Every time we did the wishbone at Thanksgiving and I won, I would wish that I was a boy.”
Beth gave Ally the same response as she had given to Russ: “I’ll support you no matter what.” A month later, Russ came out as transgender too, and both expressed their intention to transition, which they did in the following years.
For Beth it was hard to see her children suffer in a society that was not accepting of transgender people, but everything rearranged, and she regained her strength.
Now, Rai (Russ) and Gavin (Aly) have almost finished their transitioning, but if Beth knew what she knows now, she would’ve considered hormone therapy earlier. That would have prevented top chest surgical intervention for Gavin and Rai’s facial feminization and breast augmentation.
With love, support,understanding and communication, McGarritys have defied all obstacles, and now they are a happy family.
“I feel like my kids are at a place now where I can sit back and take a deep breath,” Beth says. “They’re happy. And every minute we spend with them, I feel, is a gift.
“You can’t ask for any more than that.”