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Parenting Beyond The Gender Binary

A stick-figure cartoon of a mother and her daughter.
Courtesy of Marlo Mack
A cartoon representation of Marlo Mack and her daughter, M.

For parents raising a transgender or non-binary child, the parenting journey may not be what they expected. But following a child’s lead and learning how to be an advocate are important takeaways from the experience.

It’s one of the first things people wonder about a pregnancy, even when the child is still just a blob-shaped being in utero.

Is your baby a boy or a girl?

But assigned gender at birth doesn’t always reflect a child’s identity as they grow older. Gender binaries can pose challenges for kids exploring who they are — and for parents figuring out how to best support kids who come out as transgender or nonbinary.

Host Anita Rao talks with Harrison Casey Garcia, a member of the Youth Leadership Team of the LGBT Center of Raleigh, and his dad Vince about how their family supported Harrison Casey’s coming out. And two moms with children who came out as transgender at an early age talk about their parenting experiences. Marlo Mack is the host of the podcast “How To Be A Girl” and the author of a memoir by the same name planned for release in October. And DeShanna Neal is an activist and founder of the Intersections of Pride Foundation.

Resources for Parents (thank you to Megan in Raleigh for help compiling this list):

Support groups and organizations for kids and families in NC:
Transforming Families NC
LGBT Center of Raleigh
Youth Outright

Gender Spectrum
Inside Out 180

Book: "It Feels Good to be Yourself" by Theresa Thorn
"My Rainbow" by DeShanna and Trinity Neal

Kaia Findlay is a producer for Embodied, WUNC's weekly, live talk show on health, sex and relationships. Kaia first joined the WUNC team in 2020 as a producer for The State of Things.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.