Kai Bogert. Photo by Facebook.
An openhearted mom and dad in Australia have expressed support of their transgender child in a very public way this week: by taking out a cheeky ad in the “births” classified section of the Courier Mail, a daily tabloid published in Brisbane.
“A Retraction — Bogert: In 1995 we announced the arrival of our [child], Elizabeth Anne, as a daughter. He informs us that we were mistaken. Oops! Our bad,” reads the ad placed by parents Yolanda Bogert and Guy Kershaw, of Queensland. “We would now like to present our wonderful son — Kai Bogert. Loving you is the easiest thing in the world. Tidy your room.”
The ad quickly gained steam on social media, where fans were so impressed with Kai’s parents that some raised the prospect that the whole thing was a hoax.
But the Courier Mail set everyone straight on Tuesday by featuring an interview with “the family the world’s talking about.” As mom Yolanda explains: “I needed to show my son I support him 100 percent and wanted to let the world know that. It is all very new to us. Kai just told me a few days ago that he no longer wanted to live as a girl.” Though there were “little signs along the way when he was little” about Kai being transgender, and even more as he grew, she says, “it was never really discussed openly.”
Photo by Facebook
Up until recently, Kai was known as Beth; and, though his Facebook page name has been updated, his pronoun is still appearing as “her.” Regarding his switch in gender identity, he tells the Courier Mail that he’s not used any hormones or “made any decisions about gender reassignment surgery. Nothing like that yet. These are early days but so far I have never been happier.”
Kai’s parents are not even the first to embrace their child’s gender change in such a loving, public way. In March, Las Vegas mom Jodi Gholson Oliver celebrated her daughter’s transition to male with a Facebook post, featuring an illustration of a stork with a baby bundle in its beak, that went viral. “I am proud to announce that I have given birth to a bouncing baby boy on December 18, 1994,” Oliver wrote. “For about 18 1/2 years we thought he was a girl, who just happened to like bugs, tattoos, flames, skulls, snakes, lizards, etc, etc. Then one day Jes explained to us that he never felt like he was supposed to be a girl, always identified more as boy and therefore planned on living as a male (a term called transgender in case you are not sure). This is something that we have all seen over the years and I am so happy that he can finally feel like the person he was born to be!”
Taking such swift, public, positive action to support a transgender child is indeed relatively rare, according to Jenn Burleton, executive director of the TransActive Gender Center in Portland, Oregon, which works with more than 600 families with transgender kids nationally. Regarding Kai’s parents, “If the reporting is accurate, and the turnaround was this quick, then yes, it would be extremely rare and extremely unique. But I suspect that there were inklings to the family over the years,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. But either way, she says, “They’re pretty awesome.”
Finding such openly supportive parents in a place such as Australia vs. the U.S. can be due to a major cultural difference, Burleton notes. “The predominance of fundamentalist religion there is much, much, much, much lower than it is in the United States,” she says, “so there’s less of a sense of there being some kind of external morality being imposed on a family’s decision to support their kid.”
Fans of Kai’s parents were quick to post their approval on Twitter. “These parents made an amazing announcement in the newspaper to present their #trans son,” wrote GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, in a post that was re-tweeted by out country star Chely Wright. Trans Student Rights (a subset of GLSEN) notes, “Warms our <3 except the ‘tidy your room’ part.” Others say the news is “heartwarming” and “sweet and hilarious,” calling Yolanda and Guy “fabulous parents.”
Kai, for his part, has been thrilled with his mother’s public display. “I am so happy with what she has done. This last week has changed everything for me,” Kai tells the Courier Mail. “I am still me but I am more me than I was a few days ago, and feel free.”