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Crosscurrents logo 2021

How a weekend at transgender camp changed a mother-son relationship

By Sarita Robinson / cropped and resized
Kids playing at Summer Camp

Chris Lopez always knew there was something a little different about her youngest child, Gabe. Although assigned female at birth, he always felt like a boy. Gabe Lopez, now 8 years old, talked to his mom about how one weekend at a camp for transgender kids helped to transform his life.

CHRIS LOPEZ: Do you remember when things really changed for you?

GABE LOPEZ: We went to a camp, and I met three best friends - Luke, Brock, and Cooper.  They were all transgender like me, so they all wanted to be boys. Brock taught me how to pee standing up.

LOPEZ: (Laughter) And that was huge for you, right?

GABE: Yeah.

LOPEZ: That's why I said we're bros. We know each other.

LOPEZ: Do you ever get scared about what it's going to be like to grow up transgender?

GABE: I've been wondering if when I'm older a lot of people will try to hurt me or something. Or...

LOPEZ: Like, if they find out that you were born a girl and they have a problem with it?

GABE: Mm-hm.

LOPEZ: You think that they might try to hurt you in some way?

GABE: Yeah.

LOPEZ: Were you ever worried about telling me that you were transgender?

GABE: Yes.

LOPEZ: Did you ever try to tell me and then change your mind?

GABE: Mm-hm.

LOPEZ: How many times, do you think?

GABE: I think, like, four times.

LOPEZ: Four times.

GABE: I was worried that you liked me as a girl.

LOPEZ: Because we used to have a lot of fun?

GABE: Mm-hm.

LOPEZ: Do we still have fun?

GABE: Mm-hm.

LOPEZ: So it doesn't really matter if you're a boy or a girl, right?

GABE: Yeah.

LOPEZ: I didn't know that you were dealing with that on your own. If I'd known, I would have tried a little bit harder to have that conversation with you and maybe start it myself.

GABE: Um, do you worry about me?

LOPEZ: I worry about how other people might treat you. And it makes me upset to think about what you might have to go through. You amaze me every day. And you can tell me anything, anytime, anywhere, and it won't change how much I love you. I'll always have your back.

GABE: Thank you, Mom.

This story originally aired on Weekend Edition Sunday on NPR.