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'It's how I was born': Transgender teen says support is crucial

Posted July 28, 2015

— Imagine bringing home a baby girl and, one day, she announces she is a boy, or bringing home a boy from the hospital, and suddenly, as soon as he can talk, he says he is a girl.

Even for the most loving families, conversations about being transgender can be a struggle, from trying to understand and support their child to keeping them from being bullied.

Cary teenager Vanessa Locklear came into the world as a boy but is living as a girl. The 14-year-old documented her transition and shared information about being transgender in a YouTube video.

“It's how I was born. It may not seem that way, but it is,” she said. “The biggest thing you really need throughout this transition is a good support system.”

Vanessa says she got that support from her mother after sharing her feelings about a year and a half ago.

“At first, honestly, I thought it was a phase,” said Amy Locklear, Vanessa’s mother. “They think they don't belong in their body, but nobody can understand.”

That is exactly what Tony Howard thought when his little girl wanted to play with GI Joe action figures and dress like a boy.

“At that point, I just thought, ‘Oh, my daughter is a tomboy,’” he said.

But eventually, Howard's little girl told him at 10 years old that she was a boy. He's now 14.

“I took it well from the start because my main concern is for my kid to be happy,” Howard said. “I’m definitely OK with it.”

Cary therapist Kimball Sargent works with both of the families. Her youngest transgender patient was four.

“Families have to go through a grieving process. They brought that child home. It looks like a boy, or it looked like a girl, and nobody ever said that gender was something that could change,” Sargent said. “The earlier that the child comes out and says that the gender is wrong, the more likely it is that they are going to transition.”

Amy Locklear says she and her daughter “went through a little rough patch” in the beginning. “After that, she kind of stood up for herself and said, ‘I am who I am. Either you accept it or you don’t,’” Amy Locklear recalled.

Sargent says she helps families process the complexities of raising a transgender child.

In Howard’s case, he says he listened to his child “because that child is speaking the truth about how they feel.”

It’s not just about feelings; it's also about how the children are treated at school.

“Most of the schools that I have been involved with have been very supportive of their trans students, and most students are pretty supportive,” Sargent said.

Vanessa says her school has “been really good.”

“I mean, there are some people who don't like it and they avoid me, but they don't really say anything to me,” she said.

Amy Locklear says she’ll do whatever it takes to make sure her daughter feels supported, loved and safe.

“A lot of people say there's different ways to handle it. Well, this is the only way I know how to make Vanessa happy,” she said.

Sargent says most physicians will wait for a child to go through puberty before determining if he or she is serious about changing genders. Locklear’s and Howard’s children are both undergoing hormone therapy and hope to have surgery someday.


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  • Danielle Cockrum Jul 29, 2015
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    You know... I was born female and l hated wearing dresses, still do to this day. My mom made me wear them and l took them off as quickly as l could and went running out barefoot in cutoff jeans and tshirts.

    I deer hunt and fish and do all those things the boys did growing up 'cause that's what l enjoyed doing. Did that make me "transgender"? NO, it most certainly didn't. A tomboy, for sure, and l'm still more comfortable in jeans and tshirts, but my greatest accomplishments in life are my two beautiful children!! Boys can't do that.

    You can't change gender like you change your shoes and the fact that Bruce Jenner is trying to make it look like such a super fabulous way to go just makes it worse.

  • Erika Phipps Jul 29, 2015
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    As children we are often encouraged to have faith in God, and to strive to have faith in our fellow humans. These are amazing families who understand the value of encouraging their children to have faith in themselves. Especially considering how many of their fellow humans, including those who presume to speak for God, would have transgender people (among others) feel abandoned, ridiculed, and unlovable. As long as they believe in who they are, to heck with the rest of us - they don't need my acceptance anymore than they need to care what unkind people think.

  • Belle Boyd Jul 29, 2015
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    People are bullied throughout their entire lives (school, work, etc.) You can be whoever you want to be, but don't always expect someone to understand or accept you. People have different beliefs/values than someone else. You have to accept the fact that someone people believe in gays/trans/etc. while others want you to go to h***. No matter who or what you are you you will always be judged/bullied by others.

  • Faith Hope Jul 29, 2015
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    They did not ask for anyones aproval or Acceptance. Not until you walk in thier shoes, you will never undersdtand. Let me ask you this questions, what if it was your child, grandchild, someone in your family or your best friends child? What would you have said to them, anywords along the line that you commented on this family? See its very easy to judge others that you don't know. Until it happens to you or someone close to you, you might think differently or may not. No kids what to be different from other kids and I don't think anyone would choose to be differnt in this way so they can be BULLIED or to hear thing like your comments. Children that was born with disabilities, did they asked to be born that way, How about children that was born with both genitals, no they did not. Nither did she and the other transgenders and gays. No sins are bigger then the other. Is Juding a sin, yes it is.

  • NC Native Jul 29, 2015
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    No wonder I left religion so long ago. It always seems to be the religious who are the most hateful and intolerant of those not like them. Live and let live. How someone chooses to identify themselves does not affect you.

  • Belle Boyd Jul 29, 2015
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    Haven't you ever heard of the quote "Even a good Christian will kill you."

  • George Herbert Jul 29, 2015
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    I guess we should take comfort from the fact that the people arguing this perspective can't write a comprehensive sentence without grammatical and spelling mistakes. I'll take the transgendered "preversion" over so-called Christians' love. I pray that these Christians seek the truth.

  • Belle Boyd Jul 29, 2015
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    My last line was if God condemned homosexuality then why would he create people to be gay. He knew you before you were in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). He knew if you were going to be a boy or a girl, not a boy living in girl's body and vice versa. He condemns other things like murder, etc., but people still do it. It is their choice to commit those crimes.

  • Mannin Black Jul 29, 2015
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    God may have made us in his own image, but who are we to decide on what image that is?

  • Belle Boyd Jul 29, 2015
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    God condemns murder, lying, etc., but people still do it. Everybody sins. It is their choice to sin though.