I should preface this by pointing out that Jon Ralston is a tough political reporter. There's no holds barred when it comes to his reporting. But behind every tough persona lies a human heart. Ralston is no different.
I'd love to just copy and paste Jon's full post, but I think it's fair you head over to Ralston Reports to read his beautifully written essay on what is obviously a powerfully personal trek to "here."
Here is just a few excerpts:
I cradled her in my arms, my adopted miracle, and couldn’t stop crying. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
As she grew up, Maddy eschewed the traditional girly girl stuff. “If you get me a doll for Christmas, I’ll cut its head off,” she once admonished me.
She refused to wear the skirts in the school uniform catalogue, preferring the khaki pants. She became a full-fledged tomboy before high school. She was a stunning, blonde-blue-eyed kid, but she didn’t care. She would rather go sit for hours and fish at Sunset Park than go to the mall with other girls. She told me she wanted to be a boy.
Maddy never really talked about what the truth was until junior year. But somehow she had known since she was five, when she eschewed dolls and dresses.
I don’t think I even listened very well when Maddy told me a few years ago she was really a male inside, that she was transgender. Sure, you are, I thought. It’s just a phase, I was certain.
After all, the kid has been through a lot. Her mother had died. She had to switch schools. She had no idea who she was.
But the truth was I had no idea. Or I was in denial.
Slowly but surely, I have come to not just accept it but to embrace it. I have learned a lot about transgender issues through my job. I have read a bit.
I admit I sometimes still have a hard time with it all. I look around the house, see the pictures of me with my little girl and my eyes fill with tears. But those memories are forever, and Maddy told me not to take them down, that she cherishes those, too.
Last year, Maddy began talking about transitioning, about having surgery. And about six months ago, Maddy began taking testosterone to begin the process of becoming who she really is.
This week, Maddy went to court, bravely told a judge why she wanted to be a male and wanted her birth certificate changed, too. After the hearing, when it was finally real, when he called me, I don’t think I have ever heard my kid sound so happy. And he wanted the story told.
When I get home later this week, I will see someone officially named Jake Ralston for the first time. And one thing I know for certain: It will be love at first sight.
I want to be clear about my intentions on posting this. Jon Ralston has dealt with this family issue for a long time now. And, in sharing his son's story, he's helping countless families who find themselves in a similar circumstance.
I personally have friends who have found themselves unexpectedly learning about "life as transgender" from their children. This is real.
I celebrate Jon and Jake's openness to sharing their story.
I congratulate Jake on his living life as the person he knows he is.
And send huge kudos to Jon for being the father any son would love to have.
UPDATE: The Washington Post's Travis Andrews interviewed both Jon and Jake Ralston after Jon's post went viral. Read more about Jake's journey here.