Transgender Boy Tells Mom 'It Shouldn't Be Scary To Be Who You Are' In an interview with StoryCorps, Kaysen Ford talks to his mother, Jennifer Sumner, about being transgender and growing up in Alabama.
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Transgender Boy Tells Mom 'It Shouldn't Be Scary To Be Who You Are'

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Transgender Boy Tells Mom 'It Shouldn't Be Scary To Be Who You Are'



It's Friday and time again for StoryCorps. Today a mother talks with one of her kids about an important life moment. Kaysen Ford is the youngest of seven children. When he was 12 years old, Kaysen sat down at StoryCorps with his mother, Jennifer Sumner, to talk about life in elementary school in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

JENNIFER SUMNER: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

KAYSEN FORD: I am a martial artist, I play the stand-up bass, I am learning how to play the guitar, and I am transgender.

SUMNER: And what level are you in martial arts?

FORD: I'm a Level 2 blue belt. That means I am halfway to black belt.

SUMNER: What is your favorite subject in school?



FORD: Or lunch.

SUMNER: What grade level were you in school when you decided to tell your friends and family that you're transgender?

FORD: It was around 5th grade when I told my friends and family I was transgender because, up until then, I did not know that the word existed. It was misery every day. I hated being called a girl. I hated being called a daughter. But most everybody - my family, friends - they were just, OK - because they kind of knew it was coming.


FORD: Over the summer, I went to art camp. And they did not know I was transgender. They just called me he, and that was awesome. I think the happiest moment in my life would probably be January 16, 2015, 8:45 p.m. You bought me boxer pants.

SUMNER: You'd been telling me for quite a while that you wanted boxers. You were wearing all boy clothes, getting boy haircuts. And that was, like, the final change. And you were just ecstatic.

FORD: That was awesome.

SUMNER: Is there anything else you would like for people to know about you?

FORD: Well, even though I'm transgender, I'm a kid, too. I have homework to deal with. I have tests to deal with.

SUMNER: I have been extremely proud of you because you have been true to who you are, and you're very courageous.

FORD: It shouldn't be scary to be who you are. I mean, maybe a little bit at first - but it's way happier this way. Trust me.

SUMNER: I don't think you realize what a leader you are. People look up to you because you are not afraid to take a different path. And we know that it's your life and you're the one that's got to live it, but we are there for you every single step of the way. And we're going to do whatever we can to lighten your load. I'm very proud to be your mom.

FORD: I'm proud to be your son.

SUMNER: (Laughter).


MARTIN: That was Kaysen Ford and Jennifer Sumner for StoryCorps. Their conversation was recorded in Birmingham, Ala., in 2015. Their interview will be archived along with hundreds of thousands of others at the Library of Congress.


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