TODAY

TODAY   |  May 03, 2013

Transgender mom: ‘You have to be true to yourself’

Jennifer Finney Boylan and Deedie Boylan, along with their son Zach, talk about Jennifer’s transition from male to female over a decade ago and their unique family journey they made as the couple remained together through Jennifer’s transition, raising Zach and his brother, Sean.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> as a parent how do you teach your children lessons you may not have fully learned yourself, a poignant new memoir a dramatic transition from male to female, from father to mother led her and her family on a unique journey. until the age of 44, jennifer was jim, a prominent college professor with a wife and two sons but jim had a secret, one he'd been keeping nearly his entire life until he found the courage to come out as transgender.

>> just a condition that you have and that you struggle with your entire life.

>> reporter: in 2003 jennifer shared her story here on "today" and in her best selling memoir "she's not there."

>> in the end you have to find th courage to accept yourself and move on with your life.

>> reporter: moving on with the support of her spouse, deedee and their two sons, zach and shawn, more than a decade later the family remains together.

>> we have kept the family together because of our love gore each other and because we are good parents. and what we have on a good day outweighs what we've lost.

>> jennifer finney boylan is here with her spouse deedee and son zach , new book " stuck in the middle with you a memoir of parenting in three genders."

>> good morning.

>> deedee, the first thing that came to their mind how did deedee take this. you were married for about a dozen years as husband and wife.

>> yes.

>> tell me about the moment when jennifer came to you.

>> well, there wasn't really one moment. it was sort of a series of moments and it's hard for me to go back and think exactly what was the minute that things changed.

>> did you consider ever that maybe this was the end of your marriage?

>> i wasn't sure i wanted to be married to a woman. i was scared about what it meant for my future and our future, but i'm not sure i ever came to that sort of very edge of the precipice saying i can't stand this. it was hard and scary and i dn't know what was going to happen but there was not a time when i said forget it, i can't do it.

>> jennifer you obviously agonized. in the end you made the decision that you had to do this for who you were even if it risked your family.

>> you have to be true to yourself and i didn't want to be raising a family in which i was teaching my sons that it's okay to lie, and it's hard though. certainly one of the things as a father that i thought was my job was to protect my family, to stand in between them in trouble and suddenly i was the trouble so that wasn't, that wasn't much fun.

>> were you prepared for the possibility you might lose everything, that you might lose your wife and your kids?

>> i don't know what i was prepared for. i came out slowly. it wasn't like one day i waltzed in, in sequins and said now my name is tiffany chiffon. we worked it out slowly over a couple of years, many years actually and in some ways that transition is still going on. i mean, it's one of the things about being a family that you keep changing. we've been married for 25 years. we are not the people we were when we got married in 1988 and he is not the same person he was when he was born thank goodness. he's less trouble now.

>> zach , you're in college.

>> i am.

>> we've been chatting for a while, a great kid. this could not have been easy growing up. it's hard enough to be a kid growing up. other children can be mean. what was it like for you?

>> you'd be surprised actually. i was never made fun of because of that. i've never had anyone say anything negative to me because of who my parents are. i've been really lucky, though. my parents are great and what more can i say?

>> we should probably explain that name matty is the result of, the name that they invented for me which is one day we were sitting around the kitchen table and zach looked at me, he was about 6 and he said we can't call you daddy if you're going to be a girl. i said what do you want to call me, how about matty , that's half mommy and half daddy and i know a girl named matty at school and she's cool.

>> and his brother said damy. damy didn't stick but matty did.

>> do you ever wish my gosh we could go back to the way we were 12 years ago?

>> no, no, i don't. i mean i think the wonderful thing about our family is that we've been able to build a life that we're really happy with, that you know, i never felt trapped in this. i get to choose every day to stay married to the person that i fell in love with 25 years ago.

>> what we know is that the gender of parents is a whole lot less important than the love in a family.

>> fascinating story, jenny, deedee and zach thank you for sharing. the book is called " stuck in the middle with you." tune in to "rock center with brian williams " more more