I’m not going to lie, when I learned what made Katy’s family unique, I was curious. It’s not everyday you meet a transgender teen. I’ll also admit, I had so many questions. And as a parent, I considered what it might look like to be in Katy and Mac’s shoes. But as I’ve gotten to know them and learned more about how they have worked to raise their family to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit, I am in awe of their bravery.

The problem is, I don’t usually comment on controversial things when it comes to my business. I cannot decide if I’m breaking that rule or not. To me, transgender human beings aren’t a controversial topic but to many, it is still. I hope one day that isn’t the case. There is so much we don’t know about gender identity, development, and how it relates to raising healthy, happy adults. (Actually, strike that. We do know, we are just struggling  as a society to provide support to those who are transgender. Raising happy, healthy adults is a product of listening to them and being receptive to what they are telling us.) Which brings me to my next point.

So I’m officially coming out in support of the creative, warm, and generous soul that is Hunter Schafer and all of the other transgender kids, teens, and adults.

Seeing one family and one transgender kid is just that, ONE. But it is enough to go, “they look like me”. I can see myself in them and their family. Actually, that’s not too different than us. That’s what I hope these photos represent.

As winners of a mini session earlier this year, the Schafer family sat down with a special handmade box. Throughout the year, they write down their favorite memories, save them, and read them at Thanksgiving. The night we did this, Hannah, Tory, and Skye and their parents were getting ready to take Hunter to her junior year of high school at the School of the Arts the next morning. You could feel the grateful vibe that evening as they enjoyed their time as a family of six for the last time in a while.

Katy’s beautiful words are a wonderful reflection on what it means to be a parent:

“I hope your photos can help communicate that we are an ordinary family living in a bit of an extraordinary situation. As parents we have had to face head on our fear of the unknown. There is no way  for ANY  parent to imagine, even from the first moment of a pregnancy, what might unfold in the years that will follow. We really do “sign up for this” when we give ourselves over to the miracle of new life. We really do “sign up for” the unknown. Our particular family, as well as our extended family, is on a lifelong journey now to understand what it means to raise a human being who is living as the opposite gender from which they were born. A child whose physical appearance changes by the day. Mac and I, we must continue to answer the question, “How do we parent a child who believes their soul does not match their physical body?” Time and again, for the past two years, day in and day out, we have tried to use unconditional love as our touchstone, and our faith in God as our foundation to help us answer that question. In some ways it is as simple as living out the age old mandate to “practice what you preach”,  to always come down on the side of compassion, and to open one’s self up to the mysteries of life.”

Last but not least, here is video link where Hunter, Hannah, Mac, and Katy all share their personal experiences and a link to the N&O’s recent article about Duke’s Center for Child and Adolescent Gender Care.

Film images shot using a Pentax 645N on Delta 3200 film. Developed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab.raleigh lifestyle photographer 01 raleigh lifestyle photographer 05 raleigh lifestyle photographer 08 raleigh lifestyle photographer 12 raleigh lifestyle photographer 14 raleigh lifestyle photographer 19raleigh lifestyle photographer 16Print