Gavin Páez, his parents Ricardo Páez and Alma Espinosa, and his sisters Citally, Lorely and Emily, during recording session oF BHB workshop at Mi Centro LGBTQ center in Boyle Heights. Photo by Antonio Mejías-Rentas for BHB.

This story and its audio recording were produced as part of a workshop by the Boyle Heights Beat in collaboration with the Latino Equality Alliance, Mi Centro/Los Angeles LGBT Center and PFLAG.

Before beginning the recording session, 14-year-old Gavin Páez declared: “today we’re going to ask each other those questions we’ve never asked. It’s only been a year since he identified himself to his parents as a transgender boy and began speaking to them about his identity. Ricardo Páez and Alma Espinosa did not immediately understand the meaning of the word “transgender,” but never ceased to give him love and support.

Gavin knew from the beginning that his biggest ally would be the oldest of his three sisters, Citally. In this interview, Citally finally asks him why she chose to first tell his oldest sister that he is a transgender boy.

Gavin: Why did you stay quiet when I told you I was transgender?

Alma: Because we didn’t know what transgender meant, we had always heard of gays and lesbians, but we didn’t know that word. The first thing I thought is that you were going to suffer a lot, for being different, so I decided to wait some time and seek a place where we could get some help.

Ricardo: Now it’s easier for us to understand you, to get you, and we’re here to support you and you know we’ll always be with you.

Citally: Hello, my name is Citally and I’m Gavin’s older sister. He told me first that he was transgender and I want to ask him how he knew that I would accept him.

Gavin: I knew that you would accept me because you were there when I was going through difficulties, I knew you would be there, and you’re still with me, yes. How did you feel when you saw that I was dressing up as a boy behind your backs?

Alma: I didn’t want to say anything when I saw you, but I saw you out on the street and I felt very sad, because I didn’t want people to make fun of you.

Ricardo: The only time I saw you was when you dressed up, when you disguised, for Halloween.

Alma: That time that you disguised for Halloween, I saw when we went trick-or-treating to a house, that the lady called you a boy and you became very happy. I didn’t know why yet but I was happy to see you get happy.

Gavin: And how did you feel, Citally?

Citally: When I saw that you were dressing up as a boy behind my Mom and my Dad’s back, I didn’t know how to react, because I felt happy that you finally had a way to express yourself, but at the same time I felt bad because I was lying to my Mom and my Dad. But I knew everything that I had to do, my job was to support you knowing that you would tell my Mom and my Dad when you… when it was your time.

Gavin: How did you feel when you had to tell other people that I was going to change and that they had to call me with the ‘he’ pronoun and my new name Gavin.

Alma: At the time I knew that I had to be strong and support you… and to get the flyers that they had at the various groups and give them to them so that they knew what transgender meant, because they were probably like us, that we didn’t know. That was a way of not explaining too much but to give them the information then and to chat afterwards.

Ricardo: I began with my family, began with my sister and then the rest of my brothers. I remember them telling me that we should be supporting you and being with you, that no matter what other people thought, that it was our… like our obligation, but we didn’t treat it as an obligation but as a commitment to you, because you’re our son and part of our family.

Alma: Do you remember the day you told us, well, that you told me that you were transgender? Would you change the way you told me?

Gavin: I think I would, yes, because I felt I was not explaining myself well. I feel that I should have done my part, when explaining to you that I’m transgender… I feel bad that I couldn’t help you, because there isn’t a lot of information in Spanish.

Alma: That’s why at the beginning we couldn’t understand you, but it’s not because we were ashamed of you, or that we would reject you, no, never. Always, as I am telling you, the love never changed, simply the way that it is told.

Gavin: How do you see me now?

Alma: We see that you’re much happier. Since you were a little boy you had a big smile, always, but now we see you much happier and getting along, you have more friends, you participate more in school, and you’re very strong.

Citally: I now see you… I see that you’re much happier…. Since you’ve begun to change, I noticed that, instead of looking sad or as if you were hiding something from the world, now you act like the person that you always were, but that you stopped being for some time. And that makes me very happy, because I now see you as you really are. You are my little brother that I will always love and I will always want to protect and I will always be with him supporting him in whatever he chooses.

Ricardo: You can tell that… those change that… you had been wanting to make, you can tell, you can see the difference. It pleases me! It please me… [to see you] the way you wanted to feel… we are part of… because we are a family, I feel very proud of you.

Alma: How did you feel when we went to court to change your name?

Gavin: I was happy because I felt I was finally going to have the name I wanted and nobody was going to ask me anything and… very excited!

Ricardo: So, to wrap it up, I’d like you to briefly say what your life has been, what it was and what it is now.

Gavin: I’m happy that you were able to be with me, because without you I don’t know where I would be. Because with my sisters, they are a big support but they’re not like you, you can take me to court, they can’t take me to get hormones, without you I couldn’t get that and I was going to be a little sad… but my life is now better. I feel very good about my life.

Ricardo: What message would you give other people who have still not made… that decision or determination to be able to, like, come out of the closet.

Gavin: I would tell them to wait until they are ready, because I wasn’t ready, I didn’t have the information, that’s why it took me a little longer to be able to get my parents’ help. Now we have brochures from support groups where we can go as a family… it’s good to be able to talk as a family, and with other families, because you can learn how other people are going through the same thing you’re going through.

Alma: The groups really do help a lot, because sometimes you think, ‘oh, why is this happening to me,’ like, ‘I’m the only person going through this,’ but no, there are many families, many people going through this.

Gavin: The support groups are very good. If you’re about to come out and you have a family like mine, that’s a little big, it’s very good so that your family can learn things they never knew.

Ricardo: As a father I am very proud of Gavin, who’s my transgender son, and I would like this to be an example to other parents, so that they can accept their children as they are and that they support them and don’t deny them that right… that they have to choose the life that they decide to choose.

Participantes:

Gavin Páez

I’m a freshman in high school, I’m 14 and I am transgender. About two years ago I found out I was trans. At first it was really weird.

PGP: He/him

Alma Espinoza

I a 38 and I am the mother of a transgender boy of whom I am very proud, and I am always going to be there to support him. I don’t deny that it was very difficult at first, but love is the most important thing in our family. I am a very fortunate Mom.

PGP: Her

Ricardo Páez

I am the father of a transgender boy. I’ve learned that there is a variety of pronouns. Before I thought that there were only gays and lesbians. I am glad to have come across  Bienestar and PFLAG. It helped me a lot.

Citally Páez

Older sister

Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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