Welcome to the TransFamily Support Services blog and our inaugural post! We look forward to sharing in this space important news and information about the transitioning journey, particularly in support of trans youth. We will also be sharing with you, dear reader, photos and stories from events we attend and work we are doing in[…]
SAN DIEGO - For the first time, the first child to be treated at a local clinic for transgender youth is talking about his trip back from the abyss.
From his Star Wars themed bedroom to a busy schedule which includes gymnastics and other sports, Sam seems like your typical 14-year-old boy.
But Sam has not lived a typical life.A tomboy since early on, Samantha always felt like a boy.
By age 9, there were thoughts of suicide and daily anxiety. “I started puberty and things started to grow, so I would try to push it physically back into my chest until it was purple. I would think,’I want to die. Get me out of here.”
Soon after, Sam became the first child enrolled in the Gender Management Clinic at Rady Children's Hospital. Sam received hormone blockers, which blocked him from maturing into a woman. Later, he received doses of testosterone. “If my mom hadn’t done the research and I hadn't gotten what I need, I think I would be dead,” said Sam.
More than 70 trans youth are enrolled in the program, which includes counseling services.“I think Rady Children’s Hospital helps normalize something that isn't always understood and allows trans youth to feel supported and understood,” said Kathie. Kathie runs a program assisting families of trans youth or young adults.
Sam says he now wakes up every day happy. “Because I'm living my true self, the person I've had in my heart since preschool. Open the door and I can let myself out and be in the world,” said Sam.
JUNE 6, 2015
Like teens everywhere, Rancho Bernardo’s Sam Moehlig can’t wait for school to end. He’ll play video games, hone his martial arts skills, perhaps visit his favorite place, Disneyland.
Another highlight: In July, this 14-year-old who was a girl at birth will undergo surgery to remove breast tissue.
“When I found out I could be a boy,” Sam said, “it was oh, yes, sign me up!”
An unusual sentiment, no doubt, but no longer unheard of. On Monday, ABC Family network will premiere “Becoming Us,” a reality show about a teen whose divorced dad is becoming a woman. A day later, an Olympic champion formerly known as Bruce will appear on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, wearing a slinky outfit that displays her new curves.
In the transgender community, Caitlyn Jenner’s debut is applauded. But for non-celebrities — especially teens and their families — this public makeover is almost irrelevant.
We are thrilled that the society is talking about it,” said Kathie Moehlig, 53, Sam’s mother. “But Caitlyn has the privileges of prestige and money that most trans people don’t have.”
Jenner has another advantage: She’s an adult. “Trans teens” like Sam embark on a journey that can be as daunting as anything endured by adults, while also undergoing the strains of adolescence. Voices and bodies change in unwelcome ways. Self-confidence, rarely a strong suit among teenagers, can plummet to lethal levels.
“At first, I was confused about what’s happening to my body,” said Kyler Prescott, 14, a Vista resident who was born a girl but identified as a boy. “This is wrong, this is not supposed to be happening to me.”
San Diego Transgender Teen Shares Struggle With Gender Identity
Monday, June 29, 2015
Sam Moehlig’s 11th birthday was unlike any he had before.
It was the first time he was addressed as a boy.
Sam, who was born Samantha, had battled depression and anxiety over gender identity struggles.
The Rancho Bernardo teen is now 14. He was the first patient to go through Rady Children’s Gender Management Clinic, and after years of taking hormone blockers, the Moehlig family feels it is time for Sam to take the next step in his gender transition.
“I always knew it from a young age — it was ‘I’m a boy’ but I never had the words to say it,” Sam told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday. “It was just confusing.”
It was confusing for his parents too.
Kathie Moehlig, Sam's mom, said her son became depressed when he began going through puberty.
“He became extremely depressed and anxious,” said Kathie Moehling who is starting a nonprofit to help other families. “It took us a couple of years to figure out what was going on.”
But when Sam was introduced to the process of changing his gender — he was able to be himself.
“I woke up one morning and I was happy,” Sam said. “I could be proud of who I am.”
Mom of Trans Teen Pushes for Resources That Could Have Saved Her Son
Kathie Moehlig, who helped the Prescotts through their darkest hour, has started a new family advocacy organization.
JULY 3, 2015
Katherine Prescott's transgender son, Kyler, took his own life after being bullied online. Still in mourning since his death in May, Prescott is urging people to get behind a family friend's effort to bring more resources and support services to trans teens and their families.
"It is my hope that Kathie will have the opportunity to support many trans youth and their families, so that we as a community can better embrace these amazing kids," Prescott, 47, of San Diego, tells The Advocate.
"Kathie" is Kathie Moehlig, a local advocate for transgender rights and mother of a 13-year-old son named Sam, who is also transgender.
"Since Kyler passed, I have a far deeper sense of urgency to get this out there; this void I think we can fill," Moehlig tells The Advocate during an interview at her home in San Diego's Rancho Bernardo neighborhood.
In the wake of Kyler's death, Moehlig has launched TransFamily Support Services, and she is currently in the process of securing nonprofit status. Already, the group is providing local families with intrafamilial coaching and support and advocacy around educational issues specific to trans youth, in addition to guidance navigating the health care system — for parents and for their trans children — and the myriad legal concerns that come with being or loving someone who is transgender.
Early efforts to launch the group were under way even before Kyler's death. Moehlig helped the Prescotts deal with the onslaught of media attention that quickly followed their son's death by suicide. Advocating for the Prescott family crystallized in Moehlig's mind the need for the organization's mission, and accelerted the pace at which TransFamily Support Services took shape.
"I'm an ordained minister, so for me to say that I 'minister to the Prescott family' is an easy thing to say," Moehlig says. "I don't know if they would put it that way. But when Katherine called me and told me what happened, immediately my thought was I have to drop everything and get over there now."
COMING OUT AND “INVITING IN”: TRANSFAMILY DIRECTOR KATHIE MOEHLIG TALKS ABOUT CHALLENGES FACING TRANSYOUTH
March 3, 2016
By Melanie YarboroughAt Neutral Corner’s February meeting, Special Guest Speaker Kathie Moehlig gave an inspiring talk on her work as Executive Director of TransFamily Support Services (TFSS), a non profit that assists families and trans youth on their journey. Her discussion touched on raw, difficult truths, but also featured enlightening observations and humorous anecdotes.
A transgender child’s coming out can be scary for parents, and Kathie has seen parent reactions cover the spectrum from loving acceptance to brutal rejection. So she shares this thought with concerned families: “It’s not a matter of coming out. It’s about inviting in. This is an intimate path your child is on, and they want to invite you in."Kathie likes to share a story about one mother’s response when her trans male child came out to her. The mother took a long moment and said to herself “Think carefully about what you say next. Because he’s going to remember exactly what you say for the rest of his life”. This mature, intelligent and positive response is one that we wish all parents would have! As Kathie puts it, “I keep the parents going, so they can keep the kids going”. In some instances, TTFSS may help with simple family chores such as shopping to give burdened families some needed breathing space as they deal with a transgender child’s situation. In other instances, it can involve graver issues such as helping families keep a suicide watch for a distraught child. It’s estimated that 47% of trans youth have attempted suicide. Yet while there are trans youth tragedies, there have also been successes. Kathie has often found that “A lot of our [transgender] kids are more mature for their age. Carrying this around makes them grow up a lot faster”. A trans youth’s coming out not only affects the immediate family, but others as well: the extended family, the family’s workplace, their social circle, and their religious institution. A child’s gender change is something that simply cannot be kept secret. Accordingly, TFSS provides advice and direction to help families navigate through these concentric rings of people and institutions. In these cases, it’s important to SHAPE THE NARRATIVE. Rather than let information leak out and become the subject or rumor and innuendo, families must proactively get their truth out first. By creating a loving and supporting narrative at the start, they can minimize and preempt social negativity and backlash. Insurance Companies are at the center of TransFamily Support Service’s work for one simple reason: money. The cost of psychological services, hormone therapy, and various surgeries for trans youth is beyond their family’s financial reach. The only way to obtain these often life-saving services is through health insurer coverage. Not surprisingly, insurers are usually loath to cover gender transformation procedures. While there are a growing number of laws in California and nationwide to deal with insurance issues for transgender ADULTS, there is a sad lack of a corresponding laws for transgender CHILDREN. Kathie counsels parents to expect denial from providers the first time around, and to be prepared for a lengthy appeals process. She also advises that parents obtain a case manager, and build a positive rapport with them. A case manager can often become a vital go-between and advocate with the medical and insurance bureaucracy to help trans youth obtain the important-and yes life-saving services they need. And at all stages of the process, document WHO said WHAT and WHEN. Medical professionals are an equally important part of TFSS’s work. The organization works to expand their list of supportive medical providers. “Therapists are the gatekeepers” Kathie wryly notes. Mental health professionals are the initial point of contact who refer trans youth to medical professionals. However, sometimes psychologists may claim to be experienced in gender issues when this may not be the case. Often, a patient winds up having to educate their counselor. TFSS seeks out mental health professionals who are not only sympathetic, but truly conversant in transgender matters. Endocrinologists are perhaps the single most important medical professionals in this process. The first half of a younger trans youth’s transition process is endocrinologist prescription of hormone blockers. This is because the most agonizing moment in any trans youth life is when their body starts changing to become a gender they feel is not who they really are. But the other equally important step of the trans youth transition process is the concurrent prescription of cross-hormones to enable then to develop to their desired gender. There is some controversy here. Some feel that trans youth should first block one hormonal process, and then several years later promote the other. Kathie feels that it is important trans youth go through the desired puberty AT THE SAME TIME AS THEIR PEERS. As she frequently points out, what trans youth want more than anything else is be like all other youth. They do not want to stand out, but to feel the affirmation of being accepted by, and treated equally by, their peers. Surgeons provide necessary physical reconstruction. One important process for female-to-male trans youth is breast removal, also called TOP SURGERY. For young trans males, breasts are a source of anxiety and shame. The removal of breast tissue gives trans males the desired flat chest and thus body integrity and self-esteem. But just as importantly, it gives them the chance to participate in sports, an integral part of any boy’s life. Before top surgery, sporting events which involve tight garments (such as tanktop shirts), or swimming (upper body exposure) are unthinkable and a source of frustration. After top surgery, trans males can now happily join their male peers in sports. However, both female-to-male phalloplasty or male-to-female vaginoplasty, also called BOTTOM SURGERY, must often wait until after a child is 18 years old. Many trans youth may want this bottom surgery as soon as possible. However, surgeons are understandably concerned with possible legal consequences. They face the very real fear of malpractice lawsuits, particularly if the child-turned-adult later decides that the surgery was a mistake. School is central to trans youth life. TTFSS works with School Boards and Superintendents, as well as with Principals, Teachers, and School Staff. One problem is that while California has many laws on the books to protect transgender students, at the school level there is often a confusion or lack of training to implement them. Transgender issue Competency Training is crucial. For example, trans youth are routinely bullied and harassed by some of their peers. A teacher who witnesses or hears of this, needs the appropriate vocabulary and skills to nip it in the bud. This is an absolute necessity as peer verbal abuse frequently (and perhaps inevitably) escalates to physical abuse and violence. Kathie admits says the goal is to create SAFE SPACES on campus. But, she admits, “No campus can be 100% safe because kids are kids... they learn prejudice from their parents”. Kathie is, however, often still surprised by the genuine acceptance many youth do have for their transgender peers. This may be due to their exposure to the internet, and a more nonjudgmental attitude about life. Even youth coming from a conservative family background, while not embracing transgender, keep a quiet but non-intimidating distance. Kathie jokes “This generation totally gets it. Now, all we need to do is get the adults onboard”. Equating the trans youth experience with the gay youth experience is frequent, but not correct. In our educational system, when a youth comes out as homosexual, they are still called by the same name, and still use the same bathroom and gym locker room. For trans youth, they obviously must deal with these three important issues. Ironically, American society at the moment seems more accepting of gays and lesbians than of transgender men and women. Trans youth are sometimes asked by their peers and even their own parents “Why can’t you just be gay?” It’s as if by some weird logic, this would make their situation somehow easier to deal with. School bathrooms and gym locker rooms are the new frontline in the trans youth struggle. As a sign of the growing backlash against trans youth visibility, there are dozens of legislative bills across the United States banning or restricting transgender access to bathrooms or locker rooms of their preferred gender. TransFamily Support Services in San Diego is working with the American Civil Liberties Union and the San Francisco based Transgender Law Center to work to fight these pieces of legislation. However, Kathie sadly admits “This is going to be a very long fight nationwide. It’s going to get uglier before it gets better”. Schools often seek the compromise solution of accommodating trans youth with a separate bathroom. The problem is that this quickly gets around school . Students ask “Why does he (or she) have to use a separate bathroom”. Kathie says “Our students don’t want special treatment. They want to be treated like anyone else”. Another problem with transphobic bathroom or locker room legislation is the question “How does one enforce it?” Does this mean mandatory strip search and review of persons genitals, or actually viewing them use the bathroom? Kathie cites an analogous situation at Rancho Bernardo High School in April 2002. At a school dance, a high school assistant principal asked young ladies to show their underwear before entering a dance to "ensure appropriate school dress”. Several girls were asked if they were wearing thong underwear, and advised to go home and change if so. In addition to violating youth privacy, it was socially embarrassing for them. A San Diego city Police Officer on site for security witnessed the event and felt it was "totally out of line." The offending assistant principal was suspended and later demoted. (Those seeking more information on the incident in question may google keywords rancho bernardo high thong panty check). Some transphobic parents have argued that their children will be traumatized by having to share a bathroom or locker room with a transgender student. Kathie points out that given the actuality reality of the situation, this is pure nonsense. No transgender child will strip naked in front of their peers. Trans youth will simply go to a locker, take their clothes, go to a bathroom stall, and change there. Moreover, there is often not enough time for ANY child to shower and be on time for class. So where is the trauma? Kathie believes that the problem is transphobic parents and students lack of education: “When you’re uneducated, there’s too much space for fear”. In addition, many parents and students have never met an openly transgender youth-although they unknowingly have associated with many closeted ones. Once they actually meet and dialogue with a trans youth, the barriers of ignorance, prejudice and fear break down. Other transphobic individuals make the argument that mischievous youth may “pretend” to be transgender so as to sneak a peek at the opposite sex for a thrill. Kathie responds to this argument “Nobody is going to pretend to be trans. There’s so much bullying and stigma that nobody is going to pretend to be what they’re not”.
Kathie observes that there is now greater transgender visibility, citing Jazz Jennings, Laverne Cox, and Catilyn Jenner. However, it is a double edged sword. “More transgender stories coming out can push the buttons of those people who are not accepting” But, she adds “We can’t let this stop kids from owning their own space”. She concluded by emphasizing the importance of BUILDING THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY, with special attention to at-risk trans youth: “The more we band together as a community, the less people have to have the secrecy of being who they are”.
SAN DIEGO, California - On Monday, May 18, San Diego transgender teen Kyler Prescott died by suicide. He was 14-years-old.
Imagining what it feels like to live inside a body that doesn’t feel genuinely yours might be hard to understand for some, but close friend of the Prescott’s, and mother of a transgender teen herself, Kathie Moehlig talks about Kyler’s life and the challenges transgender children face within the world and within their ever-evolving selves.
Kathie Moehlig got to know the Prescott family through transgender support groups around San Diego. The two families became friends and created a support system within their own circle. The grief stricken Prescott’s have given Moehlig permission to speak to SDGLN on their behalf.
Moehlig explained that Kyler was slowly emerging as a transgender teen a few years ago. The family was in full support of Kyler’s journey, even asking the teen if he minded the pictures around the house of him in dresses. Kyler was fine with that Moehlig said. Some transgender teens are more comfortable making their announcements, or transitioning at a slower speed than others.
This was the case for Kyler, “Probably starting a few years ago there was some gender fluidity; transition has been at Kyler’s pace," Moehlig said. "Some teens when they come out, they come out and that’s it. Other teens tend to flow between the genders. He chose male pronouns, but was completely comfortable with the family still having all the pictures up of his childhood. Because in Kyler’s world a guy can wear a dress.” Kyler was involved in the youth group in North County, the youth group in Hillcrest and The Transforming Family support group.
These organizations helped Kyler to understand what he was going through and offer a stable environment for talking about and sharing feelings on his transitioning. “Kyler wasn’t necessarily an activist for the trans community,” Moehlig said. “However Kyler was a very outspoken activist for marriage equality--and since pre-school age, a huge animal activist. The family has a small little zoo, and Kyler really connected to animals. He did amazing art, sketching. He was also a very talented pianist and he loved to write stories and poems.”
Moehlig said that Kyler was well supported within most aspects of his life. There were a few times when he was mis-gendered by others and had to endure the rigorous challenges of just being a teenager, but overall Kyler was met with acceptance and approval. Unfortunately, the developing teen was unable to come to an armistice between the battle of puberty and the pace of time.
“It just was too hard.” Moehlig said. “Teens once they start that seed of puberty, or whenever age it is they come out we typically start them on hormone blockers. And that just stops whatever puberty is happening in their body. For some kids they just stay on blockers for a while. And with more gender-phobic kids that gives them time to kinda figure out who they are.”
“The takeaway is that only you know who you were born to be, and you need to be free to be that person.” –Ruby Rose
- Have sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination protections explicitly included in all of its operations, both within the US and global operations.
- Require US contractors to abide by companies’ existing inclusive non-discrimination policy.
- Implement internal requirements prohibiting company/ law firm philanthropic giving to non-religious organizations that have a written policy of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/ or gender identity
Surgery Unburdens Transgender Boy
April 14, 2016 By Peter Rowe The night before his surgery, Rancho Bernardo's Sam Moehlig woke up several times. "Then I'd see it's 2 in the morning and go back to bed." He rose at 4:30 for breakfast, his last meal before his 2 p.m. operation in a Thousand Oaks clinic. Going under the knife, the 14-year-old said later, "was kind of like a dream." "It was just pure excitement," he said. "I was finally getting rid of something that had been bothering me for years." Sam, who was born female, got rid of his breasts. Gender reassignment operations are controversial, especially for minors. Rady Children's Hospital San Diego will not recommend surgery for anyone younger than 16 because of the irreversibility of the procedure. Said Dr. Maja Marinkovic, medical director of Rady's gender management clinic: "Adolescents may not have the capacity to make informed decisions." Sam's surgery came after years of anguish and depression. His suicidal thoughts eased when a psychiatrist suggested that Sam might be experiencing gender dysphoria, the intense sense that one's body and sexual identity are in conflict. More counseling followed, as well as hormone blockers, testosterone shots and constant talks with his parents, Kathie and Ron, and his sister, Jacq. Sam's struggle has been a team effort. Sam's double mastectomy was "the next step in our family as our family grows and gets closer," said Ron, 62, a service advisor for a local automobile dealership. "God has plans for everybody." Samantha was born Oct. 20, 2000. The Moehligs adopted her from her homeless birth parents, tending the baby through fetal alcohol syndrome. Breathing was such a trial, her skin would turn blue. The infant needed nine medications and, from the age of 6 months until 3, feeding tubes. Despite this fragile start, Samantha grew up to become a boisterous kid who loved sports and sci-fi movies. While she thought of herself as a boy, her body had other ideas. Her breasts began developing around the age of 9, plunging her into what Kathie calls "the deep dark." Clinically depressed, Samantha spoke of suicide. Her parents sought counseling for her and searched for clues. All along, Kathie now believes, she was hunting for a word. "I feel the guilt of knowing that your child is suffering for years," said Kathie, 54, "and then finding the term: transgender." Counselors and physicians agreed: This was a case of gender dysphoria. On April 6, 2012, Samantha adopted a male persona and name. Ever since, that has been Sam's "boy birthday." His body, though, did not cooperate. At taekwondo, he wore a white T-shirt under his uniform to keep breasts from slipping out. After surfing lessons, he wrapped his torso in a towel while pulling off his wetsuit. A hormone blocker was implanted in his left bicep to slow the growth of female characteristics. He bound his torso to minimize curves. Two years ago, testosterone shots were added to his routine. To all outward appearances, he became a typical boy. But "it's hard to undo and unpack the discomfort that gender dysphoria causes," said Aydin Olson-Kennedy, 39, a transgender man who became Sam's counselor in 2014. "It is deep and it is very, very profound." When Sam began his "social" transition, living as a boy, it wasn't a dramatic change — that's how he'd identified since at least kindergarten. From his first "boy birthday," though, Sam became "he" in almost everyone's eyes. One set of grandparents has refused to accept their grandchild as a boy — or, as the rest of the family sees it, accept Sam as Sam. Still, his support group is large. Jacq made her feelings clear at last summer's Pride Parade in Hillcrest. The 21-year-old held a sign: "My Brother Was My Sister. So What?" As Sam changed, so did his family. "Parenting evolves," Kathie said, "and I've evolved as a part of this experience." In June, she incorporated a nonprofit for families with transgender youth. Since October, her TransFamily Support Services has worked with 36 clients in a half-dozen states and one Canadian province. She's successfully advised seven families on how to have "top surgery" covered by insurance. Ron marched with Sam in last year's Pride Parade. "I can't wait to march with him this year," he said. Awkward moments have been rare, although there was one at the Presbyterian church the family had attended for 10 years. Watching Sam, several worshipers who had been friendly with the Moehligs expressed misgivings. "When you and Ron die," one told Kathie, "you won't be with us in heaven." The Moehligs left that church and eventually found a spiritual home at Agape International. One Sunday a month, they drive to Culver City to attend services with the nondenominational congregation. As a youngster, Sam sometimes wondered: Had the Almighty goofed? Why would an all-wise, all-loving deity saddle a child with the wrong gender? He no longer wonders. "I am grateful I was born the way I was," he said. "I look back on it and I don't think I would be the type of person I would be without this experience. You can develop into who God intended you to be." On the morning of July 23, the family piled into a van and drove to the Kryger Institute of Plastic Surgery in Thousand Oaks. At the clinic, Sam was taken to a private room for photos of his chest. Then he returned to the waiting room for a family portrait. Finally, he was escorted into the operating room. For the last four years, Drs. Gil and Zol Kryger have averaged 100 "top surgeries" a year, each costing $6,000 to $9,000. "Bottom surgery," constructing genitalia, is comparatively rare and far more expensive, running $75,000 to $100,000. Sam is unsure he'll ever have bottom surgery. "You can get away with not having a part," Kathie said. "You can't get away with having parts that don't belong. This, the top surgery, is a necessity." Still, is someone Sam's age too young to alter something as personal and intimate as gender? "They've all known their entire life, from their earliest memory," that their bodies did not reflect their true gender, said Zol Kryger, 44. "It's just like you and I. We know. That's hard-wired into our brain." Although the Kryger brothers are plastic surgeons, they reject the notion that these are "cosmetic" operations. "This," Zol Kryger said, "is surgery to restore someone to their natural state." After two hours in the operating room, a still-sedated Sam was returned to his family. "Everything," Gil Kryger told the Moehligs, "went exactly as planned." The family drove to a nearby motel and tucked Sam into bed. Overcome by events, Ron shed a few tears. He was relieved the family would no longer have to battle insurance companies, pressing them to cover the operation. "There was a lot of stress, not just for Sam but for the family," Ron said. Now, he said, "the barriers are down. He can do whatever he wants to do, be whatever he wants to be and do it from his authentic self." The day after his surgery, Sam woke up elated. "It was everything I ever wanted," he said. Yet the immediate aftermath was a trial. Sam had to miss team practices and competitions as his body healed. His parents waited until Aug. 29, a month after the surgery, before throwing a pool party for the boy and his friends. Sam was thrilled: "I felt like that was my entire lifetime of wanting to take my shirt off at the pool." Two weeks later, he resumed surfing lessons with one of his home-school teachers, Johnny Pontecorvo. At the beach outside Oceanside Harbor, Sam paddled a 9-foot Styrofoam board into the 4-foot swells. He wiped out a few times and chased several waves in vain. Maybe 20 minutes into the session, Sam paddled down the face of a wave, rose to his knees, then popped onto his feet. "He's excited to get back to his usual things," Ron said. Few people have commented on Sam's new, flatter physique. But if friends had seen him on Christmas morning, they would have understood the power of this change. Toting a twin-blade razor and a tube of shave butter, Sam prepared for his first shave. Ron was at his side, coaching the boy, while Kathie took photos and Jacq watched. It was a family occasion — "a little weird, everyone jammed in there," Sam said — yet it was especially significant for the guys. "The whole relationship of father and son rather than father and daughter has changed," Sam said. "We are able to relate a little closer." A happy winter gave way to an eventful spring. An avid reader and creative writer, Sam worked hard in school. Flag football was a blast — "I was not worrying about my breasts bouncing all over the place" — and his balance in gymnastics improved. "Gravity," he noted, "has the advantage. Surgery made it 10 times easier than before." People see other changes in Sam. He stands straighter, speaks more confidently, smiles more easily. "When I first met him, Sam was so shy," said Olson-Kennedy. "Now, he is just so much more available." Available, even a bit outspoken. Kathie and Sam's plans recently included a trip to Sacramento to lobby on behalf of LGBT youth. Once depressed and withdrawn, Sam was eager to testify. "People need to hear it," he said. "Every person is different. That's who I am." email@example.com Rowe writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Read more TransFamily stories...