Andrea Valiante began to notice that her child was a bit different from other children at a young age. Her child Ben was born female, but expressed persistently and consistently a preference for playing the boy character during games of make-believe or otherwise defining himself as a boy. Andrea encouraged his creativity and initially had no reason to think there was anything more to it. But then Andrea, who is a high school math teacher, had openly transgender students in class for the first time, and it was then that she started to think Ben might be transgender, too. Eventually, he made his public transition in 4th grade, which was seamless.
“The first couple transgender students I had, I was literally in awe of them,” Andrea said, describing how one day, a teenager just walked up to her, within moments of meeting her, and explained outright that they were transgender. “They were such brave advocates for themselves, and already so independent, to be able to explain such a powerful part of their story to a stranger.”