(Cincinnati Enquirer) Four in 10 transgender teens in the United States attempt suicide. Leelah Alcorn’s death was a clarion call for the transgender community. This is Zay Crawford’s story.
On the drive to Cincinnati one morning last fall, Jason Crawford peeked in the rear-view mirror to the back seat, at his child. No doubt about it, Zay was growing up. But months of heart-to-heart talks about that unavoidable fact had left Zay in a panic, in tears.
Jason and Chasilee Crawford chose to live in Yellow Springs because the college town’s progressive vibe matched their own. Yet parenting Zay had challenged them. They often argued with their child even as they advocated for Zay to the outside world. And as Zay stepped toward adulthood, the Crawfords’ options were disappearing.
Now, driving his family for their first visit to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Crawford glanced back at that young face, so like his own, and read excitement, even joy. A path had appeared
Jason is a pilot, Chasilee a nurse. In 2002, they had a second child, a boy they called Isaiah, to join older brother Jeffrey. A relative nicknamed the baby Zay, and it stuck. Life went on.
One day when Zay was about 2, the Crawfords watched a movie made from the Dr. Seuss classic “The Cat in The Hat.” Not long after, Jason and Chasilee overheard the kids playing scenes from the movie in which Jeffrey was the little boy . . . and Zay was the little girl.
“I remember thinking, ‘What’s going on here?’ ” Jason said. “That was something that was different to us. I didn’t know what to think about it. Then, I don’t know how, but Zay got a princess dress. It was blue. Zay wore holes in it.”
Every time the family went to Toys R Us, Jeffrey aimed for the Legos, Zay for the dolls. Jeffrey said, “There was a lot of stuff like: ‘I’m not like Dad. I’m like Mom.’ ”