Cast of Characters

C.J. (Age 11) – The most captivating child you will ever meet with an insane knack for art and color, interior design and gymnastics.  His passions include Barbie, Monster High, LEGO Friends, American Girl dolls and women’s hair and shoes.  When he grows up he wants to be a an artist or teacher.  Former aspirations include hair stylist and mommy.

C.J.’s Mom (Lori, blogger, author) – A feisty, sassy girl-woman trying to have it all and usually feeling like she is failing miserably while all those around her are none-the-wiser.  She works part-time as a business consultant, full-time as a mother and overtime as a walking panic attack.

C.J.’s Dad (Matt) – A police officer and recovering bully with his 18-year chip for bully sobriety.  He’s an Irishman with a heart of gold hidden underneath his tough-guy façade and ever-present scowl.

C.J.’s Brother (Age 14) – 14 going on 40, he’s wise, kind and the best big brother a younger sibling could ask for. At first he was embarrassed of his little brother’s gender bending ways. Then, he adopted a “he’s gender nonconforming, so what, get over it” attitude. Now he’s in middle school and finding his way as an advocate and voice for those who fall outside of what society thinks “normal” is.

Uncle Michael – A creature from a sitcom who is bigger than life and loved by all.  One of the most important people involved in the raising of C.J. because of his homosexuality.  If it takes a village to raise a child, Uncle Michael is the court jester, mayor, therapist, stylist and official storyteller.

Nana Grab Bags – The maternal grandmother who was created by God to spoil grandchildren.  She was allergic to harsh words and unhappiness and always carried an oversized Target purse filled with candy, toys, hugs and zany theories. We’ve been missing Nana since she passed on May 25, 2015.

Pa – The maternal grandfather who is a devout born-again Christian and macho Mexican-American.  Enough said.

Grandma and Grandpa Colorado – The paternal grandparents who are thousands of miles away.  A hunting, drinking, fishing, old-fashioned duo, they used to be waiting for the day when C.J. would outgrow his “girly phase,” now they embrace him so fully that I have a feeling they are becoming advocates for gender nonconforming children everywhere.

112 Responses to Cast of Characters

  1. Lori says:

    Oh my goodness how is it that C.J. always looks AMAZING in every photo? Not only is his style waaaaay better at his age now than mine is in my 30’s but he just is super photogenic. Has he thought about or done modeling? I can totally see him on the cover of any super fly magazine.- another Lori ;p

  2. Ashley says:

    I just want to say that CJ is beyond amazing!!! He reminds me of my almost 8 year old son to the letter. My son loves unicorns, pink and purple. He carries a unicorn purse and has a unicorn wallet. He owns more dolls than I ever did at his age lol. I have actually given him my barbie collection from when i was a young girl. I call him my little unicorn all the time and before bed we always says:
    We are Bridges (our last name)
    We don’t care what people think of us
    As long as we aren’t hurting anyone, anything, or ourselves.
    Just be true to you
    Benji would like to tell CJ that he thinks it’s cool to find another boy like him who loves fashion and “feminine” things.
    As a mom, I want to say thank you for posting what you do. The part I find most difficult raising a child who is gender non-conforming is the bullies. But that’s why we teach our children to stay true to you.
    Thank you
    Ashley Bridges

  3. Scott Ramp says:

    Dear Lori,
    I’m a 57 year old, straight white married male who just detests the hatred and homophobia in this world. I make my living as an acting teacher and am also a professional makeup
    artist, so I’ve been around “gender creative” people for decades before the term even came into vogue. I love any and all of my students and fellow artists, yet my somewhat stereotypical outward appearance sometimes sends red flags to people saying (quite wrongly) “ watch out for the Trump-supporting old white guy”…because I am as far from that as it is humanly possible to be. But that’s my cross to bear and I’m happy to see the reactions of people when they realize just how wrong their initial assumptions of me actually are. Having just read your latest post about C.J.’s best friend dumping him and all the pain it caused him (and you and Matt), I just had to write you. PLEASE let C.J. know that it WILL get better! I can’t even imagine how hard this must be for him, but the two of you (and your awesome older son) sound like you are a phenomenal support system! I’m very proud of you all. It seems to me from your writings that you are in the SoCal area somewhere. I teach in Hollywood and would love to be able to be even a tiny part of showing C.J. he’s appreciated. My community of makeup artists is huge and loving and either myself or any number of my younger makeup artists who work for me (male & female, gay, straight, gender-fluid) would be happy to teach C.J. some cool stuff! Personally, I run one of Southern California’s (and the world’s) largest Halloween events and would gladly get your whole family in to enjoy the event and hang out with my artists. So, although zombies and creepy stuff is my specialty, I can do it all, including drag. Any of us would be thrilled to show C.J. our skills and let him be himself. I know that you may get a lot of people telling you they’d love to help out, but this is really from the heart. If you ARE in Southern California, so much the better. But I have artist friends all over the country (remember, I’m old and have been teaching for years and my network is wide — one of my students even won the Best Makeup Oscar a few years ago for “Dallas Buyers Club”), so hooking you up with someone to show makeup stuff to C.J. won’t be hard. If you are interested, I’d be happy to talk with or meet you and Matt so you know this is a sincere, legitimate offer. Your stories touch me deeply and I just want to help. I’ve been a mentor for 33 years of teaching actors and artists and it’s what makes MY life worthwhile. Giving back and making someone’s life even a tiny bit more bearable would be my pleasure. I left you my personal email. I hope you are interested, but even if not, please know your stories have impact and let C.J. know he has friends…even if he doesn’t know them yet. Much love… Scott

  4. My CJ is a 12 year old trans boy, we live in the SF Bay Area and just want to give a shout out after seeing your story re: negativity in response to your pride photo. My CJ and I attend Trans March in SF and I’ve posted photos and I guess have remained under the haters radar. But know that you are (clearly!) reaching people and keep up the good work!

  5. Mike Ray says:

    Wow love this blog

  6. Margot Keeler says:

    I love your whole family, and you and C.J. are my new heroines. I wish you well from the bottom of my heart. I have been teaching since 1988. I have never had any evident gender non-conforming students in my own classroom and I’m glad I encountered your story before I did. I think I would have been OK but I am glad to know that you are out there, that there’s someone I could ask “what should I do if…” Like you, I think my biggest fear would be some version of “what if the kids are mean?” Those of us whose calling is to care for children are sometimes overwhelmed by the multiplying and increasingly complex issues and challenges that kids and teachers face. Probably you alreafy do this each year but if I were C.J.’s teacher I would wish that you would talk to me privately and assure me that it’s ok to contact you to ask questions because we are sometimes not sure if it’s ok to ask. I hope that if I encounter gender creativity in my classroom I will know how to guide my students to embrace the rainbow. Thanks for going public with your journey. It’s an inspiration and a guiding light.

  7. gdave53925 says:

    After seeing you on Chelsea I immediately went on Amazon and ordered your book. It arrived today and I am about to tear into it. Amazed by your bravery and humanity!

  8. Stephanie says:

    Hi, I just found you! I was googling for Barbie pictures for my daughter’s birthday invites and you turned up in my results. What a stroke of luck! I’ve just started my own blog about my own trans-perger (an Asperger assigned male at birth, but is trying their hardest to transition to female), and I can’t wait to read your posts on here. What a wonderful mum you are, supporting your child wholeheartedly and making sure everyone else respects their personality as well. It’s so important that we move forward, showing the world that there are more than two distinct points on the gender spectrum.
    My blog is just in its infancy, but hopefully I might reach the bar you’ve set.

  9. MikeNVegas says:

    I just found an article about You and your family and I have to tell you….I’m warms every part of my being knowing that as people, you all exist for the world, and most importantly, CJ.
    Thank you for the story and thank you for of course, loving CJ!!!

  10. gabrielaj14 says:

    I’m new to WordPress, and this is the first “professional” site I got inspired by! This is beyond amazing!

  11. enoreensato says:

    I’m new to wordpress and the instant I opened your blog, I fell in love right away and I say that you are one tough, supportive and loving mom. You are truly an inspiration. Just followed you.

    • Monica says:

      Thank you for this blog and I plan on reading the book soon! I am a choice mom (meaning I had my son on my own) and he is going into first gr. (no siblings or husband) The last seven months, he has expressed interests in braiding hair, (and has put in pig tails in his hair) little ponies, butterflies, basically anything that girls like , so does he! He has no interest in legos, trucks, t-shirts with super heroes/hulk,etc, many sports. He enjoys playing with girls due to shared interests. Most of his cousins are girls so that works well. Most recently this week, he told me he wants to let his hair grow like a girl, wear a dress, paint nails, etc, and all in one sentence.. I did not comment, as I am not sure yet what to say to this, though I am liberal and accepting, I am alone, so I feel like I don’t have anyone to bounce thoughts off of. Since this is all kind of new, does anyone have any ideas about how I should proceed? Or maybe I just wait and see how persistent he is with regard to these thoughts/wishes. I know I need to prepare him also for any potential teasing.
      Thanks so much

  12. Debra says:

    I was looking through the family blogs and found yours. It’s been a pleasure to read and meet the characters. Your blog is bookmarked!

  13. I think you are incredible. I am new to blogging and I was trying to find some other bloggers to connect with and follow & then I came across yours… I have been in tear all morning completely blown away by the out-pour of love that you give to your family. And you’re right, it shouldn’t be a shock to see a mother so supportive and loving of your family- but sadly, it is. We need more mothers like you. We need more dads like your husband, and more siblings like your son. Your children are beautiful and have been raised very well! I know your son is still young, and that harder times are to come for him- but because he has such an amazing foundation to stand on, he will be able to conquer it all. I don’t know why the world can be so cruel. I don’t know why it has to get so hard. But we are taking steps everyday to overcome all of the darkness in the world, and your words shine a little extra light! Bless you and your amazing family!

  14. Pingback: Let’s read… about great parenting | blueisthenewpink

  15. gina says:

    I love this. What a wonderful and supportive family. C.J. sounds like an amazing little boy.

  16. Brad Spraw says:

    I sent you an email earlier about the decision made today in Minnesota. I am far from Minnesota but while reading this book, the remembrance of the Green Dragons took a hold of me. Bless you all for not just settling with the challenges you face, but making it a point and statement to try to make lives better for all. You’re a tremendous person and I cannot wait to be a parent just like you both. Thanks for everything.
    Brad from Ohio

  17. KP says:

    I have just finished your book and it brought me both anger and respect.

    Anger because, similar to you, I have LGBT family members in every generation of my mom’s side and a couple on my dad’s side. I relate to all the bad looks and non-sense comments from non educated, judgmental and most of all soulless people. I truly believe the bible and it’s sayings, specially Mathew 7:1 -“Do not judge…” . God will always love C.J. no matter what.

    Respect, because what you do and stand up for, is so powerful and difficult to do. My LGBT cousins never had their parents and direct family support growing up, and that definitely caused an impact on their lives. C.J. is very lucky not only for having you and Matt but for having Chase. Big brothers will always be the Big Brothers. Only if you have one, you understand what I am saying.

    Anyways, congratulations for your parenting skills. May God continue to give you strength and wisdom in all your steps. I wish you and your family health, wealth, joy and protection.

  18. Julie says:

    Lots and lots of people have the idea that others can only be considered “acceptable” if they fall within quite limited parameters. And, where I live, I DO mean limited! I want them all to realize that other kids like C.J. are out there. I feel terribly, grievously sad, when I think about how actual grown- up adults can be so hateful to a child, when he or she expresses gender – atypical preferences. What these critics may actually mean seems to be “straighten up! You are NOT okay to be this way, it is shameful for you to like what you like, your preferences are all screwy, and I (!!!!) have decided that you are NOT acceptable until you start to like and enjoy the things that 95% of other boys like you/ girls like you enjoy. Now conform! (Dammit!)”
    There are days when I feel absolutely at my wits end, feeling that not a single person I know, understands what I am saying! If a “gender-bending child” grows into puberty and continues developing into a more mature and wiser version of himself/ herself, is that all the more reason to condemn them? – – So SINFUL! to be who you really are, as the good Lord has created you! (Sarcasm!)

  19. Kelly Graham says:

    I started reading your book and when I came across your blog site in the book I could help but come visit. I have to tell you what amazing parents i think you are for the way you are choosing to handle what God had given you…….2 very wonderful, very different, very amazing children. I hope that you are able to inspire other parents who may be faced with the same situatuon to handle it with even half your love, understanding and excetance. Stumbling across your book has been a true blessing. Hugs and love to you and your family.

  20. I fell in love with your blog just by reading the headline. You guys are fabulous!

  21. I stumbled upon your blog and it literally brought me to tears. I’m in awe at how amazing you and your family are and your acceptance for your gender non conforming Son. There just are no words. I do not have children but being a homosexual woman I know that I will be happy to just have a child no matter how he or she decides to live their life. You have no idea (or maybe you do) how many disagreements I have had with people when I ask them one of my deal breaking questions. Questions I ask to find out if we are a good fit. “Would you allow your son to wear a dress?” This a very important question for me because it tells me what type of person I am dealing with. And to find your page and your love and acceptance warms my heart. Kudos to you!

  22. Darlene says:

    You are amazing parents! It’s always been okay for girls to play softball and be “tomboys” so why can’t boys play with dolls? Your family seems amazing!

  23. Gina says:

    Congratulations!! You are a great mom, I wish to be like you if I have a child! I am a mexican lawyer very interesred in human rights… You are doing a great job!

  24. Ed says:

    There are great support groups, look up
    GLSEN & PFLAG for support. Rember
    you are person and deserve love and respect just as much as anyone.Hold your head up, it’s not going to be 100% easy, nothing ever is. If your parents
    loved you unconditionally before you
    discovered you were bi, once you tell them, ask them, to continue to love you now. Your the same person, just have different preferences. You never questioned their preferences, then they should respect yours.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I’m a young girl in College studying to become a qualified teacher and hopefully an Ofsted Inspector in my future. I read your story on under the health section on my laptop, it is a beautiful story and you have a beautiful son. Reading your story brought tears to my eyes, you’re right when you say you don’t always get what you expect when you’re expecting, but in all honesty I am so proud of your son. I’m also proud of you and your husband, both wonderful parents. I wosh there were more parents like you in this world. ROCK THAT TUTU CJ!

  26. The more is written and put out there on gender topics, the more everyone just readily accepts and moves onto the business of living…you’re a pretty fantastic mom in the way you’ve embraced and celebrated the challenges. I wish happiness for you and your beautiful family. 🙂

  27. Leslie says:

    One more thing I wanted to add: have you ever heard of camp I AM? My daughter’s friend went to one this summer. It’s for boys and girls that express the opposite gender. They get to wear what they want, say what they want, be who they want, and meet other kids like them. It was a great experience for the little boy we know to be able to run and play with a ton of other little boys also in dresses.

    Thank you again!

  28. Leslie says:

    I actually stumbled on this site doing a google search for monster high bedroom ideas lol. I am so happy to see this though. My daughter is almost 9 and in the third grade and her best friend since kindergarten has been gender non conforming. His friends are mainly girls, loves pink and purple, last year he was the only boy on the cheerleading team, this year he was Harliquin (spelling?) from the justice league and last year he was a monster high character. He’s an amazing kid and was brave enough to march in the school parade dressed as a girl character. Like your son though, he still identifies as a boy (we got a few calls in kindergarten that he and my daughter were caught kissing lol).

    Anyways, I’m just thrilled to see another set of parents that are as open and accepting as my daughter’s friend’s parents are. Growing up I liked a lot of “boy” things, but I still played with barbies. I, however, tossed out ken and my barbies would kiss. I guess society would call me as bisexual, but I never liked labels. My mother was a born again Christian and would go on and on about how being gay is a sin and all that other crap brainwashed and non-free thinkers like to say. I went through bouts of depression and cutting and it wasn’t until I got away from her that I could really be happy.

    It’s because of all that though that I have made a point of raising my kids to be as open and empathetic and accepting as possible. So while my oldest may be the quintessential girly-girl, she is frequently the middle man between her best guy friend and her other girl friends. She’s stood up for him when the other girls said cheerleading was just for girls, when he dressed as a girl for Halloween, and she even stood up to her own grandmother (my mom) when her grandmother made some snarky remark about him. And I couldn’t be prouder of her.

    I’ve told her the older he gets the harder it will be, and she’s fully prepared to stand up for her friend. Her godfather (yes, godfather to any over zealous Christians reading this) and my best friend is gay, but he’s the opposite of her friend. If he didn’t tell you he was gay, you would never know. He walks, talks, and acts all boy. He works on cars and electronics and has done more handy-man work around my house than my own husband lol. But my daughter has stood up for him too. That’s her “uncle” frank and both of my girls adore him! When situations arise, my daughter matter-of-factly says to her friends as well as other adults, “I don’t care how he dresses or who he likes. He’s nice to me and we have fun together.”

    Ok, I’ve gone on way too long and practically wrote my own blog, but again, I love that this blog and your book exist. I love seeing all of the kind comments and shared stories. You guys are awesome parents and your son is so lucky to have you as his parents. God made him perfect. Most religions believe that we shed our bodies after death and our souls go to some form of heaven if we’ve been good. And that’s what matters: our souls. Not our physical bodies. Not our genitals. Not even our DNA. After we die there isn’t supposed to be a difference in boys or girls, or race, or age, or color.

    Like I said, I hate labels. Once you close your eyes we are all the same. But if I had to label myself as something, it would be pan-sexual. And the world would be such a better place if everyone felt that way. So thank you for raising a family that helps society take one step further in that direction.

  29. Christina says:

    Hi, i accidentally found this blog. I’m a fourteen year old girl, and i was just wondering if anyone ever picks on C.J. because i have a 7 year old cousin who would (unfortunately) be the type of person to do that. Has there ever been any incidents where someone pointed or started or made rude comments? I’m just curious, and i hope that in 7 or 10 years i’m as accepting a mother as you are.

  30. Suzanna says:

    I’m enjoying your blog. My daughter isn’t gender nonconforming, but she still gets fallout. I call her my girly-girl roughneck and my self-rescuing princess. She’s worn a fairy tutu to play guns with neighbor boys, had Fairy Barbie come to the rescue during a great Transformers battle, and begged for her own boffer sword (it has a pink and leopard print hilt). She comes home indignant every time she gets teased for her skull or Transformers shirt. Every time I wonder why something so small as a t-shirt is a problem for anybody.

    • Christina says:

      She sounds a lot like my sister, who bought seven Sponge-bob shirts for her birthday.

    • Leslie says:

      My youngest is a tomboy. Her favorite colors and black and blue and green, there was a while when she’d pretend to be boy characters instead of girls (like Diego instead of Dora), she’s rough and tough, play fights, and gravitates toward boy toys. I’ve always bought a mix of gender toys but while my oldest is the ultimate girly girl and just wasn’t interested in the “boy” stuff, my youngest has me running to the store to buy more. I had over 20 dress up princess dresses from my oldest to pass down to my youngest and what did my youngest do? Beg to help daddy drill the holes in the wall for the dress rack! A year went by before she even put a dress on. Now she’s almost 4 and slowly starting to like pink and dresses, but she’s still my little tomboy

  31. Katie Worth says:

    I’m a seventeen year old senior and I live in Southern California. This year I found out from my best friend and major crush that he feels like a woman trapped in a man’s body. A year older than me, he has been cross dressing and wearing makeup and nail polish in secret since elementary school. I am the first of two people he has ever told in his life and I only found out this year. He says he loves feeling beautiful.

    He has told me that he has dreams about being in rooms filled with beautiful red carpet gowns and not being able to try them on because he was afraid of getting caught. He was afraid of going to school for a few weeks because under his black Vans were a set of cute red toenails and he was foreseeing every possible way for his friends to discover them. He says he always notices when girls have their nails done or change their makeup. My heart breaks for this boy. He used to tell me all the time how unfair it is that girls can hold hands and be loving to their friends in public but if boys do that they are labeled as gay, and he is straight. The thought of him going through life with the urges to do feminine things and the fear of being made fun of is devastating to me. I tell him every day that I accept him no matter what and I will marry him as a woman and we can be a lesbian couple together if that’s what he wants. He is grateful for someone like me in his life and I am thankful that I was the one who found out, not one of his horribly mean guy friends.

    I found out about Raising my Rainbow in People Magazine yesterday and I NEEDED to buy the book the same day. I’ve started reading it and C.J.’s experiences make me so sad and so happy at the same time. He is so lucky that his parents discovered his nonconformity at an early age and he never had to feel like a freak the way my friend does. I truly believe this is all natural for them and they should live their lives the way that makes them the happiest and most comfortable. I only wish my friend could have had the same amazing childhood as C.J..

    I want to thank you so much for making this blog and writing a book about your gender creative child. I know it will provide some hope to others like C.J. everywhere because believe me, there are many others out there who feel trapped by society’s expectations. I pray that in time many others will find the courage to share their own stories and let every gender creative person know that they are certainly not alone and definitely not freaks. Thank you for everything.

  32. The Jen says:

    People like you and your family give me hope that maybe someday we will see a world free from stereotypes, inequality and ignorance. I think it is absolutely wonderful that you are raising C.J. and his brother to be completely comfortable in their own skins, to stand up for themselves and for the rights of others, and to be happy with what they see in a mirror. Instilling a positive self-image in children isn’t always easy, even for loving parents of more ‘conformist’ kids, and you seem to have done a wonderful job for both of your children, I mean, C.J. is able to stand up for himself at 6 better than I can at 29, so you must be doing something right!! I’m so glad that you and your family ended up with each other; you seem like a perfect match!

  33. Lisa says:

    I am the mother of two (yes, two) gender nonconforming children. I have 10 year old son (who wants to be a girl) and a 7 year old daughter (who wants to be a boy). You would think that the two kind of cancel each other out, right?? 🙂
    I just heard about your book and your blog a few hours ago and I haven’t been able to put the book down…other than for the last 10 minutes that I’ve spent reading your blog. You and your family are truly an answer to my prayers! Thank you for your willingness to share your story and give hope to those of us who are sharing this journey with you. As I was reading your book, I was laughing out loud because some of your situations with CJ are the exact situations I’ve found myself in with my son. (We have the same Belle doll)
    Your stories are told with honestly, wisdom, humor and unconditional love. I can’t tell you how much hope you and your family have given me. CJ is so very lucky to have a mom who accepts him, loves him and advocates for him…no matter what!
    Thanks again for sharing your story. You have literally changed my life 🙂

  34. Jen says:

    I work for an organization which shelters homeless adolescents, and it’s unbelievable that in this day and age so many youth become homeless because of family intolerance of sexual orientation. It’s estimated that 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ nationwide. I first heard about your blog when I read your husband’s article in the Atlantic. What you and your family is doing is SO important, not just for C.J. but because you’re creating a public example that people can look to when confronting these issues in their own families, contributing to a sense of normalcy surrounding gender identity issues. It’s been really interesting to look back at your posts from a year ago and observe the change in tone as you’ve become more confident about the path that your family is taking with C.J. I wish you all and C.J. the best!

    • chix0rgirl says:

      What Jen said! I’ve been reading for days now and I’m 16 pages through your blog, entry by entry. No kids here, and I’m not gay, but your story of compassion resonates strongly with me, if only because I was raised in a super traditional Christian environment and know how cruel a role religion, specifically, plays on societal prejudices. Thanks.

  35. Michael says:

    I really like your story. Im 12 years old and Im pretty sure that I like guys… And I cant tell anyone because I am afraid, especially of my dad. Your story gives me a bit of comfort knowing that another child will not go through what I am going through.

    • Jen says:

      Hi Michael,
      I’m 32, and I came out as bisexual to my parents only 2 years ago. It might take a long time to figure out exactly how you feel about your sexuality and exactly how and when you tell (or not tell) everyone else about your sexuality. Just remember that all you can do is be the best you you can be-and who you love does not define who you are, it’s just one part of you. Hang in there! There are people in your life who will support you no matter what, even if it takes a little while to figure out who they are.

      • Michael says:

        Thank you… I really hope I find the courage to tell someone someday. It hurts living like this, but Im used to it. Again, thank you for your advice.

      • Diane says:

        Michael – My heart aches for you! My daughter opened up to me at age 14 about her sexuality. I am very liberal and all I want for my kids is for them to be happy and healthy. She is the youngest of three. She does not have the problem with me that you feel you may have with your Dad. You may surprise yourself and feel comfortable enough to have a talk with him one day. I think most parents love is deep enough that even if they are upset they get over it eventually. I say “most” because we all k now there are some pretty pig headed unaccepting people still around. Do you have another relative you feel safe talking to? If not, I urge to keep reading Lori’s blogs. If you have a PFLAG chapter near you, try and attend a meeting for teens. They are the best! I wish you luck. It is very important that you know how special you are and not feel bad about your feelings. This is who you are. Embrace it even if others don’t understand.

    • chix0rgirl says:

      Michael, I’m so sorry you feel so isolated. Hugs, and love, from someone who would love to be your big sister.

      You make me think of another Michael I know. He is my much younger brother’s age, and he came out on TV during an episode of Master Chef last year. He’s just about 20 now, but I met him back when I used to be a church youth group counselor. It took him a while to work up the courage to come out, but when he did, he did it big and he says he’s found a fantastic support network of friends in and outside of the gay community for the times when his family couldn’t handle the news.

      I hope you’re able to spend the next few years of your life realizing what a wonderful, perfect person you are. And I hope some incredible friends crop up for you along the way, people who can grow alongside of you and be there for you when you’re ready to be yourself.

      You’re very loved, and you’re not alone.

    • Hey Michael.
      You might want to check out a great resource for LGBT youth.
      Hang in there.

    • Ed says:

      There is PFLAG, and GLSEN to look for help with Dad. Hang in there. I just finished reading Raising My Rainbow and feel CJ’s Mom is on the right track for every kid out there who is questioning his/her sexuality.

    • Bess says:

      Michael, I’m bisexual myself, and I find that our LGBTQ+ -friendly youth group is why I’m finding the courage to come out (half my friends there are out sexual minorities, and one is a crossdresser. And all of us are totally and unconditionally accepted by our friends – the friends that have become family to us in every way but biology). Surround yourself with loving, encouraging people who accept you as you are. If someone can’t accept you? Fine, don’t even care and remind yourself that it doesn’t matter what they think – you’re an amazing human being who deserves to be loved, just like anyone else.

  36. I am finding it hard to find the words I want to accurately portray how much I love you guys for your choices. I’m a stranger but I read your husbands letter and I read some of your blog and I already feel as if I would be blessed to know you guys.

    Amazing. You are amazing!

    Love to your family and especially your creative little light C.J.!

    Amanda from Maine

  37. mominator says:

    Hi- I just saw Matt’s letter on FB- it drew me to your blog. My 9 year old enjoys dressing up occasionally in his girl clothes. I guess I never gave it much thought but his room posters are of cute little animals and rainbows and unicorns along with ninjas and starwars. He has toy guns, legos and action figures, but likes a good dance party and puts pretty necklaces on his stuffed animals. When he was younger he seemed to wish he was a girl because he claimed they had “better lives”. For a period, things were very stressful for him, like he wanted to express a side of him that was hidden and that anxiety was building up – this was around age 4-6. With two boys, and myself kinda of a tomboy, my problem was a distinct lack of girl clothes and toys in the house to dress up and play with. So I went out and got girly stuff, no big deal, and told his older brother (why is it always the little brother, I wonder?) no big deal, whoever wants to play with it or wear it, go ahead. Big brother now 13, is a total boy inside and out, straight as they come but will still join in the dance party with lil bro in his tank top and skirt. He seems pleased to be a boy now, as long as he can wear whatever and play with whatever he wants whenever. Nowadays, there are more air-soft guns and ninja days than nail polish and katy perry, But whichever way he goes, I just want him to know that he’s normal and loved.
    I really like hearing from adults who are either transgender, gay or dress up and how their childhoods affected them because it helps keep me on track to make sure I’m providing a loving environment for my kids. I kinda wish CJ was older than my guy so I could wee what the teenage years are going to be like 🙂
    I will keep coming coming back to this blog to feast on everyone’s insights. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

    • Teresa Wells says:

      right there with you Mominator! My grandson is my Rainbow boy, he is 13 and is very sure of himself and what he wants. He enjoys wearing feminine clothes and sees nothing wrong with it.. I have to ask him to tone it down as he is very flamboyant and has attracted more than his share of bullies, hopefully the world will become a better place for our wonderful boys

  38. 2mommiesof3 says:

    God gave your son a very special family and God gave your family a perfect little child. You are Blessed to have each other and I look forward to following your journey together through life. As a teacher I would be honoured to have C.J. in my class. Thank you for sharing your life and your love with the world.

  39. Julie says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this blog, your book and the fact that you are loving your son so unconditionally!! I have always admired my son for being himself and not caring what anyone else thinks 🙂 He likes his nails done, carries a purse and looks dam good in his pink tutu!!

  40. Ghyna says:

    Choosing toys is basic, it’s that simple. Any parent who can’t deal with xir child’s play needs an education on gender-shaming before they produce yet another confused, anxious, closeted, suicidal victim of the kyriarchy.

    Short story to prove my point: My husband and I once came across my son, who identifies as female sexually but male socially and appearancewise, playing with my vibrator. This was not sexual, it was innocent play with a device he/she had never encountered before and simply thought of as a “vibrate-y thing”. While my husband had concerns about germs, which I quickly corrected, we decided the best option was to allow Cadillac to continue his/her innocent play. The following weekend we went to the local adult store together to get Cadillac his/her very own “vibrate-y thing”. No panic, no hysterial, we behaved as sensible, loving parents WHO ACCEPTED OUR CHILD’S DECISION.

    While this led to issues at school, we worked through them. It’s that simple.

  41. Emily says:

    I love this blog soo much. I moved here to Cali 3 weeks ago, and my first thought after finding out I was moving here (after “OMG. I am coming out!!”) was “Crap, I will be there after OC Pride!” I hope y’all are at next year’s OC pride, because I would love to hear you speak!

  42. Marcela K says:

    I’m really happy I found your blog!! We have a beautiful 5 year old son that, reading this, could be C.J’s twin! He, too, has an older brother (7 years old) and is just like C.J’s brother! As I continued to read, I felt like I was watching someone write about our family. He starts Kindergarten this fall, and so many things are running through my mind of what to expect, things we’ll need to talk about/address, and it’s nice to find outside support. I’m SOOOO glad I found your blog and am insanely looking forward to the book!!! Thanks again!

  43. Kate says:

    While I was reading this I began to realize how gender neutral my moms were when I was growing up. (Probably because I have two lesbian moms that were raised in very non-expressive environments.) I have two cousins that are my age who were raised following that model, and they both followed very restricting paths. I always wonder if they’re truly happy now, or if they have an illusion of happiness. I also have two much younger cousins, just 5 and 7. While my aunt makes an effort to educate her kids and keep them open minded, everything is divided by gender. All the boy’s stuff is blue, all the girl’s stuff is pink. Sometimes this worries me. It’s strange how three sisters can take completely different paths that stem from the same environment.

  44. “We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.” -Will Rogers

    I think there are a lot of people “on the curb” applauding your family. Thanking you for sharing your life with us.

  45. Hi there! I know that technically I’m not supposed to nominate a blog with such a huge following for a Liebster Blog Award, but I love your blog so much I just had to. Thank you for sharing your wonderful life with us.

  46. Beth ostermann says:

    I am in tears right now…tears of joy! My five year old daughter is all about boy stuff.
    I am so supportive of her and so refreshed that other parents are out there going through the same thing! Thank you for putting yourself out there and connecting like minded parents that cherish their kids uniqueness! Xoxo-Beth

  47. darksphere says:

    Hi thank you so much for sharing your and CJ’s life. Growing up in a conservative country, I too am conservative and still on the process of accepting and understanding the LGBT community. this blog made enlightened me since it’s a story of an adorable little boy and is viewed through the eyes of a loving mom. keep it up. God bless you.

  48. Jesse's Mom says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing your family’s adventures with us. I have a fabulously, sparkly son that would be great friends with C.J. Your blog is hilarious, inspiring, and healing all in one. I hope that one day gender non-conforming will not be an issue, but until then, thank you for informing us all that it’s ok to be different. I wish C.J. well.

  49. Teacher in Training for the past 30 years says:

    Thank you for your blog. I am a teacher; however, I feel that what you are teaching others, by your example, has a far greater reach than a classroom. I read your blog and it helps me remember to unconditionally accept my students for who they are. I am sure it does the same for any other teacher, parent, or family member who reads it.

  50. Tom says:

    You need to update Grandma and Grandpa Colorado’s description 😉

    • Rafael S M says:

      Totally agree! While the description seems fine, with the last two posts they wrote, they look as colorful and great as the other characters in the cast.

  51. Michelle says:

    I just found your blog after poring through links regarding gender variant parenting. I committed (in my mind) a horrible parenting sin today. Five-year-old Diva D is sick with a cold bug, so we’re home but without much to eat in the house. I opted for the easy route of a local McD’s drive-thru. We visit the golden arches probably less than five times per year. So after ordering the Diva’s meal, I completely froze when the voice asked me, “Boy or girl?”. I don’t know. That’s a pretty loaded question. I answered “boy”, thinking he could use a little bit of exposure to Transformers and such. (I’m not trying to change him. But I want him to know both worlds, so when a classmate starts talking about whatever boy things get talked about, he won’t be clueless.) I also hoped he wouldn’t notice. It wasn’t until we were almost home that he noticed the My Little Ponies picture on the other side of the Happy Meal box. “Why didn’t you get me this?” he asked indignantly. I was honest and told him that the question had taken me by surprise and I felt I had to answer quickly. As soon as we walked in the door, my formerly sick little boy was on a mission. I heard drawers, rustling, and the unmistakeable snick of scissors. Then he asked me for an envelope. He’s going to mail the picture of the pony he wants from the box, to McDonald’s, so they know that his mommy made a mistake.

    At least the kid has good problem solving skills.

    • Maria says:

      i had no idea that even Happy Meals were broken down into gender categories too! wow. this kind of commercial every-day stuff is the root of the gender problems. society & business, advertising, and even your neighborhood take out place is asking you to discuss your gender. wacked!

    • Jackie White says:

      @ Michelle—I have the SAME struggle whenever we go through the McDonald’s drive-thru!! It kills me to have to say “girl” toy when really it’s just a flippin’ toy.

    • emileemf says:

      My girlfriend ALWAYS talks about this. Every time we go through the drive-thru. And it’s a good point. I live in Georgia, where people care more about huntin’ and fishin’ than they do social issues like this. I honestly don’t know how I would respond to this question, if I were a parent. Short of “neither”…what else do you say? It’s not the girl (or boy) (or neither) behind the microphone who chose to have gender-separated toys, but it IS an issue that should be addressed. My sister is gay, and she ALWAYS chose the trucks and camo over the tutus and nail polish that my other sister and I preferred. Why can’t they just ask, “which toy would you like?” It’s what I would do.

    • Sarah says:

      We are visitors to McDonadl’s more than I’d like to admit… The toy issue comes up for my 5 year old daughter and she can’t figure out why the workers don’t ask about the toy and not her. I have an enjoyable time replying to the boy toy or girl toy question by responding “my daughter would like to have hotwheel toy (or whatever is the current theme) – perhaps you should ask which toy a child wants and not what sex they are.” In those moments I feel as though I am providing the worker with a little insight and hopefully a little learning. Hopefully one day we will just ask the question we want answered without having to link it to a trait we want/have.

      • tempestadore says:

        (I know this comment is very old, but I just now came across this post)
        We do the same thing. My son is not quite three, so he doesn’t really understand all of the boy/girl stuff yet. He always says “I am a big boy! Momma is a girl!” but at the same time he has baby dolls, pink dressers, Dora toys, etc. etc. along with trucks, cars, guns, snakes, etc. etc. I’m raising him to just like what he likes and be who he feels most comfortable being. Whenever we go to McDonald’s, there is usually a sign or something showing the toys, so I ask him which side (the “boy toys” and “girl toys” are typically on opposite sides of the sign) he likes better that day, and tell them which toy according to his decision.

        I was out shopping for a bed for him the other day and the furniture salesman asked me “boy or girl?” I simply replied, “It doesn’t matter,” left it at that, and picked out my two favorite beds to measure (one happened to be geared towards boys, the other girls, so the salesman still had no clue).

    • Kimberly says:

      We don’t go to fast-food restaurants more than a few times a year, and when we do, I’m too stingy to splurge on Kids’ Meals. But my MIL took my four-year-old to her horseback riding lesson yesterday, and on their way back, she stopped at Burger King. Currently, BK has Care Bears toys “for the girls” and some spinning top toy geared toward boys. My MIL got two kids’ meals, one for my daughter and one for her younger brothers to split. When they got home, my three-year-old son FREAKED OUT about the Care Bears toy. My daughter graciously shared it with him, and took the spinning tops for herself. He’s been carrying that plastic Care Bear around and talking to it for 24+ hours now, and the tops are already forgotten. As of right now, my daughter is a girly-girl who loves pink, sparkles, make up, princesses, and anything with ruffles and bows. My middle son (the three-year-old) is usually all about cars, trucks, super heroes, and turning everything he can get his hands on into some sort of weapon. I tend to buy more “girly” stuff for my daughter, because that’s what she’s into at the moment. Same with “boy-oriented” stuff for my three-year-old (my one-year-old wants to get into everything, so he’s not picky). However, incidents like this remind me that there are no clear lines in gender, or parenting. And if my son wants a Care Bears toy, I’m just happy his sister was willing to share. Otherwise I’d probably have been making a trip to BK.

    • If you go in the store, you can just ask them to put all the toys on the counter and let the kids pick. And then hope the cashier doesn’t say “Are you sure that’s the one you want?”.

  52. Mo says:

    So thankful I am not alone…
    Thank you for sharing CJ with us! Your story reminds me that we are on a good path with our daughter…who loves batman, skateboards, karate, beyblades and running with a pack of boys… 🙂

    • Maria says:

      this was totally me as a kid!! 🙂 definitely let her run with the wolves and skate her heart out.

      i’m not a parent yet, but these are my views growing up as a gender-bending child: as a human being, it’s natural & OK to want to share & expose your kid to the things you loved (ie: a mother wanting to buy a doll house or cooking play set for her daughter, because she herself loved them so much a child). we can only see from our perspective and in our own shoes, and do our best to pass on what we know…

      but after exposing your child to all the options, it’s important to leave space for the kid to decide on her/his own what THEY love. childhood can be awesome, and it can also really suck. we all know this, as adults, and most of us wouldn’t do it all over again. so at least make the home a safe accepting place for differences.

      i love parents like you! 🙂

  53. Claire Lopez says:

    Awesome blog! Congratulations on being “Pressed!”

  54. you guys are astounding, thank you so much

  55. I love a non-comformist. And I love parents who give their children wings and the freedom and safety to be themselves.

  56. twocentsplus says:

    i ♥ your attitude. hilarious adventures with your son. congrats on freshly pressed, but most importantly congratulations on following your heart as a mom. amazing.

  57. Dop says:

    God puts angels on the earth. If we are lucky, they become parents. And if their children are lucky, the angels are parents to kiddos who do not conform to society’s version of the norm. It is clear that CJ is one of those kiddos and that you are one of those angels.

  58. kasaethis says:

    I’m a 19 year old girl that is years away from having a family and happening across this blog has changed my life. I have always been pro-LGBT but I never considered the trials and tribulations you face every day. Thank you for being so brave to document your life and you say C.J. is ‘perfect’ the way he is, well, so are you, C.J’s mom! I always worried, when I considered a family down the line, that my child would grow up to be gay or lesbian, not because of any prejudices, because they’d be beautiful regardless, but because I don’t know how I’d protect my child in a world that can be so very ugly. You have given me hope, that irregardless of what my children grow up to be, that I’ll be able to keep up with them, like you have done (spectacularly) with C.J.
    – Elly (Australia)

    • spookiewon says:

      Elly, most of us who are LGBTQ understand your feelings. As a lesbian, I’m often asked, if I had the choice, would I choose to change my sexual orientation? That’s a no-brainer. NO. I also get asked if I could, would I choose for my child to be LGBTQ? Again, NO. If I were not lesbian, I would not be me. But I wouldn’t WISH the bullying and hardships on the next generation, if I could prevent it before they were born. But the fact is, we don’t get to choose. So don’t worry about it. When the time comes, you’ll protect your babies just fine.

      • Mamaoftwo says:

        spookiewon…my daughter just told me she thinks is bisexual. I had not a clue. She has always dated fellas, but a new gal has turned her head big time. All I want is for her to be happy and safe…and wish her path is always easy. You are right, we don’t get to choose. The heart wants what the heart wants. I am just so proud that she does not deny her heart to make someone else comfortable.

  59. R. says:

    CJ is so lucky to have you. I want you to know that I was very much like CJ when I was young. My folks weren’t accepting – though my mom did sneak the occasional STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE doll into the mix without my dad noticing, maybe the odd CARE BEAR (what gender are THEY for, after all?) and THE BIONIC WOMAN was a must-watch at my household ……. so it wasn’t all bad.

    I grew up with a lot of trouble in grade-school/high school, but it was troubling only BECAUSE I couldn’t be myself at home. And now, I’m an adult, wear what I want, do what I want, have a wonderful relationship – so it all will work out, I bet, in CJ’s case, too.

    Keep on loving him – for who he IS, and never what you want him to be!

    LOVED the Halloween blog, btw – Frankie rules! 🙂

  60. Tom says:

    Thank you. 😀 I want to be like you when I have kids.

  61. cminca says:

    Love the blog–CJ is a lucky guy.

    Just don’t forget his brother in all this–OK?

  62. carolyn says:

    thank you for inspiring me to let my kids permanently switch flip flops – to her wearing the plain brown ones, and him wearing the pink paisly ones. such a simple thing. cant believe that in hindsight, i would have flinched at it – stupidly concerned about others teasing, thankful i read all of your blog, from beginning to present in time to be a better mom. my kids are only almost 3 y.o.. im so so thankful i found “you” before going down the wrong parenting path. your blog is so entertaining on top of being smart and moving. i only wish you wrote more often.

  63. Damian says:

    With a mother and father like you RAISING him the way you are, loving and supporting him unconditionally and SHOWING him that love, no matter what he grows up to prefer sexually, doesny matter HE WILL will grow into an amazing young man with LOVE compoassion and values like he was taught by his loving supportive parents. If he chooses to sleep with men or women or becomes a woman doesnt change a thing he will always be your child and will love you for raising him the way you have.

  64. MeWhoElse says:

    TO: CJ’s mom and the family that is so supportively raising him
    FROM: Just a regular guy from half-way (or more) around the world
    SUBJECT: Your Work as Family.

    I read about your (and other similar families) in the NY Times online. Inspirational stuff, mom! I hope your message (and those of your peer families) spreads far and wide and more children have a more decent shot at a less-hassled life. With time, I am quite confident, there will be no need for so much struggle… kids ARE capable of loving people with whatever baggage they (the people) carry. It’s the adults around them who project their own phobias on the kids. Kids have to be TAUGHT to hate. In this way, many of us damage and kill the spirit of children and their love.

    However, you and your peer families are a beacon of optimism. You describe yourself as a ‘walking panic attack’! Understandable. Please don’t lose your sense of humor — that is a might weapon to win hearts and disarm the potential hater or do-bad-er. And, of course, to attract and ennoble the hearts of those open to a wiser and wider view of life and human beings.

    More power to all of you and to precious little CJ. I hope he becomes a very humane person capable of winning the world with his kindness and love.

    What’s with the “memo” format you ask? Dunno. Just struck me that I should write it this way! 🙂

    And a LOUD and cheery hi, and a gentle, friendly poke in the ribs to little CJ!

    Ciao, mom.

  65. shallowmic says:

    I love this. Thank you!

  66. Tara says:

    Words really can’t express how much I LOVE reading your blogs. My mama taught me to be whoever I wanted to be, and reading about another awesome mommy makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I can’t wait to have children, and I would be totally excited to raise a child just like C.J. There are always going to be haters, but he’s going to grow up knowing that his family loves him more than anything in the whole world, and he’s going to be a wonderful man because of it. Much kudos to you M’lady. ❤

  67. Lynne says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog which I found on my son, Aidan’s, Gender Odyssey Facebook page. We didn’t go through the same things when he (formerly Bonnie) was a child but made plenty of room for the “tomboy” stuff until one day, as an adult, Aidan became the wonderful son he is and became a dedicated gender activist. It’s been a fabulous and amazing journey for the whole family. I send my love and best wishes to you. You are absolutely doing the right thing.

  68. logan says:

    I like your blog, it’s great stuff. My 3 year old is very into dolls, and very into purses, but also into lots of boy stuff. Maybe he’ll be gay, maybe not. I don’t doubt that he is male. Hove you considered that CJ is trans, and would you treat him differently or not allow him to transition from a young age? I only ask b/c I haven’t read the whole site, but it seems like that hasn’t come up as a possibility at this point…

  69. Me says:

    Your blog brings a smile to my face. I am not a religious person at all, but if there is some grand plan out there, whoever is in charge put C.J. with the perfect mommy for him. 🙂 He will be such a wonderful person having your love and acceptance to guide him. Keep up the amazing work, your children are truly lucky to have you!

    • Lyn~ says:

      … and the world at large will in time all benefit from the amazing grace you are spreading through your children and blog out into the world!!!!!!!

  70. Kate says:

    Every X-mass was the same story:

    Parents: what do you want for x-mass son?
    me: a barbie

    Never got the barbie, elementary school was horible, physically abused by teachers and classmates alike. loneliness and sadness

    Middle school was guilt and shame and anger. Father is convinced I am n homosexual

    High school, go uber mqcho; no good everybody happy, me super miserable

    Many decade later, one failed marriage, four wonderful children, 5 advance academic degree, extremely successful professionally. Accepted as a female by most coworkers and friends and family.

    What I would have give to have a Mom like you -tears-



  71. MommaCat says:

    Dear CJ’s Mom,

    Just heard you on KFI. You are an Angel! Your whole family is blessed to have you. I am not in your shoes, but recognize some of the challenges.

    One of my children is a pure dyslexic and many people, adults and children alike think and would often SAY that all she needed to do is work harder no be ‘normal’, ie. like them. HA! She is talented, smart, compassionate, wonderful… so many things. Oh and by the way, even though she doesn’t read well – as the words and letters change and move even as she is looking straight at them – she is now in high school and passed the CAHSEE test on the first try with the highest grade in her class in both Math and English.

    At a recent back to school night, her wonderful algebra teacher asked me something about her future and I responded that it depended on if she wanted to go to Harvard or be a tatoo artist. You should have seen all the other parents heads swing around and look at me as if I were nuts. I said to the mob, “Her life, her choice.”

    I applaud you for allowing your child to be himself and for protecting his RIGHT to do just that. No matter what his future holds, he will know the depth of your true love for him and experience the security that accompanies the freedom you are providing him in his wonderful childhood. Don’t let anyone steal that from him.

    As an aside, you might consider a school for him (when the time comes) that is out of the ordinary public school environment which may be filled with too many judgmental children and adults and a curriculum with narrow boundaries… My daughter attended a Waldorf school for 2nd – 8th grade called the Journey School. It is a charter school in the Capo district. We found that it was perfect for a child who doesn’t fit the mold, but is designing his own. I encourage you to check it out. It was the best decision I ever made to enroll her there.

    I wish you and your family every happiness!

    ^..^ MomaCat

  72. Pingback: Raising Her Rainbow » Greg's 2 cents.

  73. Petzi says:

    Oh my!…I just found a twin soul in you!…my little boy shares nearly ALL of C.J.’s favorites…he is 6 and a half now, and is a wonderful dancer, extremly charming being and still enjoys my high heels and dressing up “girly” for fun…what just hurts a tiny bit is, that he now hides his barbies, when boyfriends como over…so he is all aware…and his 12 year old brother doesn’t always help, MAKING him aware…what ever…our boys are little stars, shining strongly…and letting them shine might at times be of strange comfort, but they have soooo much to teach us! Thank you so much for sharing with the world! Huge Hugs from Spain 😉

  74. Amy says:

    I just found this blog, and i’m already in love! You are a wonderful and inspirational mommy! Keep doin’ what you’re doin’! ❤

  75. Dawn Beasley says:

    What a wonderful example you are setting for the rest of us in raising our child, no matter who they end up loving. C.J. is a lucky young man who will be well adjusted with your openess and love you are surrounding him with. I wish you well through your journey in all you are teaching and learning.

  76. jen says:

    What a great blog, can’t wait to catch up and keep up with your family. Strawberry Shortcake and Paula Deen are faves of mine as well, excellent choices!

  77. Melissa says:

    Love what your doing here, and offer you complete support in your journey. What a lucky boy he is!

  78. Maggie says:

    This is an awesomely amazing blog! I am an elementary school teacher and I definitely beleive children should be able to choose their own toys! You go mom!

  79. I love this blog. I wish more parents were like you. so supportive and sweet and caring. You’re doing agreat job. I know in my heart C.J. is going to be a great kid. No matter what. Thanks for showing that what i went threw as a kid is “normal”.

  80. Pingback: The Day C.J. Fell Off the Boy Toy Wagon | Raising My Rainbow

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