Clinic director: Family support eases transgender transition

Posted June 9, 2016 7:00 p.m. EDT
Updated June 9, 2016 7:07 p.m. EDT

— Before coming out to his family as transgender, Adrian Chamberlin gave his mom, dad and younger sister a PowerPoint presentation.

The slideshow, blown up on the family’s TV, detailed the spectrum of sexuality and other gender identities that people can have. Three years later, Adrian's mom, Nancy Chamberlin, said she still refers to it when she has questions.

“He had it all detailed out for us,” Nancy Chamberlin said. “I still have to refer to it to understand where he is and especially where other people are.”

Soon after the presentation, Adrian Chamberlin told his family he was transgender.

Nancy Chamberlin spread the news on her Facebook page and, in return, received supportive messages from friends, family and her church. But it took some time to sink in.

“Well, my first reaction was to cry for two days because I was mourning the loss of my little girl, and not because he was a transgender person,” Nancy Chamberlin said.

Adrian Chamberlin—born Meagan Joy—knew he was a tom boy growing up. His parents said he wasn’t into girl’s clothing or makeup, but said they were never concerned about it.

As he aged into high school, though, a group of friends consisting of other transgender students helped Adrian find his identity after turbulent middle school years.

“In middle school, when I was trying to kind of discover my sexuality, I just thought I was confused because I didn’t really know what being gay was,” Adrian Chamberlin said.

He added: “You kind of lose your sense of self.”

These days, Adrian Chamberlin can be found wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and sporting a short, modern haircut that he dyed an electric blue.

Through it all, the Chamberlins have supported their son during his transition. They got in contact with the Duke Center for Child and Adolescent Gender Care, a clinic for adolescents considering transitioning, which provides medical, psychological and pastoral care to transgender people.

Deanna Adkins, the center’s director, said the center developed a plan for Adrian Chamberlin’s transition. The most important part of that plan, Adkins said, is parental support.

“If you’re supportive and you love them and care for them, then that’s the best you can do,” Adkins said.