Placeholder Image

字幕表 動画を再生する

  • About four and a half years ago,

  • my life, and the life of my wife, and my two children

  • rather suddenly and dramatically changed.

  • This is our story.

  • To begin, meet my family.

  • This is my wife Veronica, we've been married for 37 years.

  • This is my 29-year-old daughter Rita.

  • For obvious reasons, I call her my glamor girl.

  • This is my 26-year-old son Dana.

  • Both Rita and Dana are proud graduates of the University of Nevada-Reno,

  • and both of them were born when I was in my 40s,

  • making me old enough to be their grandfather.

  • Now, look at this picture of Dana closely,

  • because I am going to show you a picture of Dana nine years ago,

  • senior in high school.

  • You see Dana is my transgender son.

  • Born and raised a female,

  • Dana transitioned her life to live it as a male

  • four and a half years ago, at age 21,

  • making Veronica and I,

  • at an age when I was just seven months before turning 65,

  • parents of a transgender son.

  • And I thought the golden years were going to be boring.

  • (Laughter)

  • It all started for me on February 13, 2011.

  • On that day,

  • my 21-year-old daughter Dana came home from college

  • to inform mom and dad

  • that through a great deal of study,

  • and counseling, and thought

  • she had come to the conclusion that she was in fact a transgender male

  • - a male living in a female body -

  • and was going to begin the transition to live her life as a male.

  • On that day, Dana was terrified.

  • She had read story after story on the Internet

  • of families who had rejected,

  • abandoned, condemned, disowned their own child

  • merely because they were transgender.

  • Dana wasn't too worried about her mom,

  • but she had no idea

  • how her old, conservative, catholic,

  • ex-military officer dad, me, would react.

  • You know, we talked a lot that day, and one of the things I told Dana was,

  • "Dana, for heaven's sake, don't worry about mom and dad.

  • You are still our child, we'll still love you,

  • and we'll support you any way we can."

  • Dana says that it was the most anticlimactic moment of his life.

  • (Laughter)

  • Since then, we have been through a lot,

  • including front-page newspaper articles about Dana and our family

  • in the Carson Valley, the Reno' and the Las Vegas' newspapers.

  • We've learned a lot, and we are closer than ever as a family.

  • So, what is transgender?

  • When we are created, we are given a body, a mind, and a spirit.

  • A transgender person is given the mind and the spirit of one gender,

  • - and I like to call it a gender spirit, in Dana's case it was male -

  • and then they are put

  • into the physical body of the opposite gender

  • - in Dana's case it was female -

  • and they live their lives with this constant emotional conflict

  • between who they feel that they are and who their physical body says they are.

  • And this emotional conflict can be so powerful

  • that it can literally overpower

  • the basic human instinct for a survival,

  • which partially explains why 41% of transgender people

  • at some point in their life attempt suicide.

  • What causes transgender?

  • I've seen a lot of theories;

  • I really don't think anybody really knows yet.

  • So I told you that we've learned a lot,

  • and I'm going to talk about some of the things we've learned,

  • but first I have to talk about pronouns.

  • Hes, and shes, and hims, and hers.

  • I have a protocol with Dana

  • that when I talk about Dana for the first 21 years,

  • before she made the transition to male, I refer to Dana as 'she' or 'her',

  • because that's the way I remember her.

  • When I talk about Dana afterwards, today, I refer to Dana as 'he' or 'him',

  • because that's the way he is today.

  • And if you think it's confusing,

  • you needed to be in my house for the last four and a half years.

  • (Laughter)

  • Alright, things that we've learned.

  • First thing: a transgender person is born the way they are,

  • they never had a choice.

  • In everything that I have read,

  • almost every account from a transgender person,

  • they say that for as far back as their memory takes them,

  • they knew that something wasn't right, they knew that their mind felt

  • that they were one gender, their body was the other.

  • In Dana's case, growing up -- it was rather interesting

  • because Dana not only felt like she was a boy,

  • Dana not only wanted to be a boy, Dana looked like a boy.

  • To the extent that everywhere where Dana and I went,

  • from the time Dana was just a little tike

  • to 16 years old, a fully developed female,

  • everybody said, "Dr. Pardee, is this your son?"

  • I'd say, "No, it's my daughter."

  • And they would blush and get all embarrassed.

  • When Dana about 11 or 12 years old,

  • I asked if that bothered her that people always mistake her for a boy,

  • and she said, "No, dad. Only when they are mean about it."

  • So I'm going to show you pictures of Dana growing up.

  • A picture [of when she was] about 3 years old here.

  • You tell me where the girl is in this picture.

  • It's not the one holding the teddy bear.

  • Dana is in the middle. Notice the short hair?

  • Dana always wanted her hair short,

  • and Veronica and I had absolutely no objection, whatsoever;

  • it was pretty easy for us.

  • This is a picture of Dana, a family picture,

  • about the first or second grade.

  • I've had this picture hanging in my office since it was taken, about 1995, 1996,

  • and everybody who comes into my office would say, "I thought you had two girls!"

  • I say, "I do. That's Dana. Dana is my daughter."

  • They say, "No, this looks like your son." I say, "No, it's my daughter."

  • Here's Dana in the fifth grade.

  • In the fifth grade, Dana's teacher had them make a list

  • of what they wanted to be in life or what they wanted to do in life,

  • and I remember distinctly Dana writing, "I want to be a boy."

  • Two years later, when Dana was in the seventh grade,

  • she was playing in the girls' seventh grade basketball team.

  • They were at an away-game,

  • and before the game, the opposing coach requested from the officials

  • that Dana --

  • (Sobbing) Sorry.

  • that Dana be taken into the locker room and proven that she was a girl.

  • (Sobbing)

  • I'm sorry.

  • That kind of hit me through the heart when that happened.

  • Here's Dana in the eighth grade.

  • Just about this time frame, Dana was at the department store,

  • and she heard these three girls about her age

  • talking about this hot guy.

  • So Dana set out trying to find the hot guy.

  • Turns out they're talking about Dana.

  • Notice the volley ball? Dana was a very good athlete.

  • Dana tells me that sports were her saving grace growing up.

  • Going on the ninth grade, or in the ninth grade,

  • Dana started on a girls' GV volleyball team,

  • started as a catcher on a girls' GV softball team,

  • and was the starting center on a girls' varsity basketball team

  • at Douglas High School.

  • This picture, taken in Dana's freshman year,

  • won awards in the state of Nevada

  • for one of the best newspaper sports pictures of the year.

  • All the time that Dana was growing up,

  • Veronica and I were very, very well aware

  • of Dana's struggles with looking so much like a guy.

  • As a matter of fact,

  • two times we put Dana in counseling with a psychologist

  • to try to help her.

  • We talked to her a lot about it, so we weren't unaware of it,

  • but what we were unaware of

  • is that potentially Dana could have been transgender.

  • And you know why?

  • Because neither one of us had a clue what transgender was.

  • If you remember, before, first, Chaz Bono, and then Caitlyn Jenner today,

  • transgender was something that happened in our society,

  • but nobody talked about it.

  • So we had no clue that Dana was potentially transgender.

  • In all honesty,

  • Dana was my tomboy, and I loved it.

  • Dana was the son that I never had.

  • We did everything together: playing catch in the backyard,

  • hundreds of hours of shooting hoops in the driveway,

  • there is not a person here today

  • who will beat her in a free throw shooting contest.

  • Wolf Pack, basketball games, football games,

  • we did everything together.

  • And you know what?

  • I always knew that some day

  • Dana was going to grow into a tall, beautiful young lady.

  • And guess what?

  • It happened.

  • About half way through high school,

  • Dana started wearing her hair longer, started to wear make-up,

  • and by senior year in high school,

  • people were telling me that Dana could be a world-class model.

  • But as opposed to the vast majority of tomboys

  • who grow up and are comfortable in their own body,

  • this constant feeling

  • that she was a male living in a female body

  • just never would go away.

  • It just wouldn't go away.

  • Just a short time after Dana turned 17 years old,

  • she saw an Oprah's show about transgender people,

  • and Dana said, "Oh my god, that's me!"

  • But for almost five years, Dana never told anybody about it.

  • This is, well, the last picture I have of Dana

  • before she made a transition to live her life as a male.

  • Her sister Rita throughout this entire process

  • has been Dana's number one supporter.

  • So again, a transgender person is born the way they are,

  • they never had a choice.

  • Second thing.

  • To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,

  • judge a transgender person by the quality of their character.

  • Character is who we are inside, that's who we are as a person.

  • The vast majority of people in this world are good people, there is a few bad ones.

  • The vast majority of transgender people are good people,

  • there is probably a few bad ones.

  • But being transgender has nothing to do with character

  • and should not be equated.

  • There is lots of stories that I could tell about Dana's magnificent character.

  • Dana was refreshingly honest, even as a little kid,

  • always very responsible, and to this day,

  • one of the hardest workers I have ever known.

  • But there is one story that just stands out

  • further than any other thing.

  • It was June of the year 2001.

  • Dana had just turned 12 years old.

  • She went to Lake Tahoe with a group of friends to go swimming.

  • Dana and her 11-year-old friend Aly were snorkeling in the water,

  • and Dana said, "Let's swim out to that rock out there."

  • So, they were swimming out to the rock.

  • Dana looked back, and Aly's 7-year-old sister Kendra

  • was trying to keep up with them, tagging behind them.

  • Dana said, "I swam a little bit further and looked back,

  • and Kendra was gone."

  • Without a moment's hesitation,

  • Dana ripped off her snorkel gear, dove down in ten feet of water,

  • and found Kendra unconscious on the bottom of Lake Tahoe.

  • Dana lifted that lifeless body off the bottom of the lake,

  • struggled to get her to the surface.

  • With one arm held on to Kendra, with the other arm swam to that rock,

  • Dana told me, "Dad, she was getting so heavy,

  • I didn't think I was going to make it."

  • Dana made it to that rock,

  • she pulled Kendra out of the water, she threw her over her leg, face down,

  • and she hit her as hard as she could on the back.

  • And Kendra spit up water and started breathing again.

  • Today, 22-year-old Kendra Renolds,

  • currently working on her master's degree,

  • is alive

  • because of this remarkable, heroic rescue

  • by a 12-year-old girl, named Dana Pardee

  • (Sobbing)

  • (Applause)

  • who today I call my son.

  • For 14 years,

  • every time I thought about that, I get tears in my eyes.

  • Every single time.

  • You know, I've learned something about what happens

  • when a transgender person changes from one gender to the other.

  • Their character stays the same,

  • it doesn't change, they are still the same person,

  • they still basically have the same personality.

  • Really only two things change.

  • One is that they look different, their appearance changes,

  • and sometimes their voice changes.