Graduation Archives - StoryCorps
Support voices across America. Become a sustaining member today! Join

Mother and Teen Reflect on the Pride and Joy of Growing Up Transgender

Kaysen Ford had just finished 5th grade in Tuscaloosa, AL, when they started to tell friends and family that they were transgender.

Their mother, Jennifer Sumner worried that Kaysen would face bullying as a transgender kid growing up in the South. In 2015, when Kaysen was 12, they came to StoryCorps to talk about being comfortable in their own skin.

During that conversation Jennifer shared how proud she was of Kaysen for being courageous and true to themself. Kaysen explained that, “It shouldn’t be scary to be who you are.” 

Kaysen has since moved with their family from Tuscaloosa, AL, to Birmingham for access to local services that empower transgender people to live more authentically, like Point of Pride — an international network of gender-affirming support programs — and Magic City Acceptance Center a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth and their allies.

Six years later, Kaysen, who now identifies as nonbinary, has graduated high school. They came back to StoryCorps to mark the occasion — and to reflect on their first conversation.

Top Photo: Jennifer Sumner and Kaysen Ford during their road trip celebrating Kaysen’s graduation June, 2021. Courtesy of the family.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or just needs someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally aired June 25, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Her Son Wasn’t Expected To Survive. Now He’s Showing Her “How To Live”

Isaiah Acosta was born with several health issues, including a rare condition called agnathia in which he doesn’t have a lower jaw. Because of that, he can’t eat, speak or breathe on his own.

When he was born, doctors warned his parents that Isaiah had gone several minutes without oxygen and that he probably wouldn’t last through the night.

Tarah and Isaiah Acosta, approximately a month after Isaiah’s birth

Eighteen years later, on the verge of his high school graduation, Isaiah sat down to have this StoryCorps conversation with his mom, Tarah Acosta.

A note to listeners: Isaiah communicates by typing into an app on his phone and tablet, which then translates his words into audio. 

Top Photo (left to right): Tarah and Isaiah Acosta at their StoryCorps interview in Phoenix, AZ on May 14, 2018. By Mia Warren for StoryCorps

Originally aired May 21, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.