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Jackie is a girl, no more, no less. She is not a boy who dresses like a girl. She is not dressing like a girl to sneak into the girls' locker room.
Yet society will not treat Jackie like the girl she is. She is still not allowed to use the girls' bathroom at school, because she is classified as a boy. And she has to deal with more anxiety than any 7-year-old should ever have to deal with, because she is acutely aware of how other people can judge her for not conforming to the gender she was born as.
Until recently, we had no idea there were so many parents of transgendered children, many of similar age to Jackie. Through a PFLAG group in Columbia, Md., and the aid of an organization called Trans Youth Family Allies, we were able to connect with other parents who are going through the same thing that we are going through.
We hope this episode of In the Life, ''Becoming Me,'' speaks not just to other parents of transgender children, but to those who have never faced the set of issues we, and Jackie, have to grapple with each day. We want to tell the world: ''There are more of us out there than you think.''
Being transgender is no longer something that anyone, let alone children, should be stigmatized for. No one should be ashamed of being who they are. And if you are a parent of a transgender child, your child is still -- and always will be -- your beautiful child, no matter what his or her gender is. Never, ever forget that.
If other parents of transgender children, and their friends and peers, heeded our message, the world would be a far better place for these children. Being loved and supported for who they truly are makes all the difference in the world in the lives of these children for the rest of their lives.
To our beautiful daughter, we say this: You are strong, beautiful and can be anything you want to be. There will be no limits on what you can accomplish with your life, because we as parents will fight those who would impose obstacles. You are our daughter, and you will be a strong, independent woman who will travel, get her education, and love life, because that is what life is about: being who you are.
Brian and Maria Singer have been married for almost 10 years. They have two children, Jackie, 7, and Lucas, 4. They live in Laurel, Md.