Chris López always knew there was something different about her youngest child, Gabe. Assigned female at birth, Gabe felt like he was a boy.
Gabe was always more comfortable in clothing traditionally worn by little boys — cargo pants and superhero shirts — but switched back and forth between these outfits and those often worn by little girls. Just after his seventh birthday, he convinced his parents to let him cut off his long hair and get a mohawk — a haircut he had been wanting for years. Around this time period, Gabe started dressing only as a boy and answering exclusively to “he”.
At first, Chris was concerned that Gabe, being so young, might change his mind. She was scared of how people would treat him as he transitioned. But after seeing how Gabe responded to the changes in his hair and clothing, she felt confident that he had made the right decision.
Gabe, who’s nine years old now, has been attending the same school since kindergarten. In the fall of 2016, when he started third grade, he began having others refer to him by his preferred gender pronouns —”he” and “him” — for the first time.
In 2015, the López family attended a camp for transgender, gender creative, and gender non-conforming youth in Tucson, Arizona.
Gabe and his mother came to the StoryCorps MobileBooth to talk about how that camp transformed his life.
A version of this broadcast aired May 1, 2016, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, and was rebroadcast on March 3, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.