A South Florida family is sharing their story of dealing with and supporting their child as she transitions to a boy.
Being a parent can be difficult, but imagine having your young daughter come to you and say she's a boy.
A mother in sunrise is doing her best to help her son feel “comfortable in his own skin.”
She was born as Aleena Hope, a premature baby who quickly grew into a healthy, adventurous little girl.
"When I look at the pictures, I do get a little sad, because she was an amazing little girl," said Aleena's mother, Deanna.
Until last august, when Aleena couldn’t tell her mother the turmoil she was living with. The 11-year-old instead sent her a life changing text message.
"'It said mom, I need to tell you something, I’ve been holding this in for a very long time but I need to let you know that I’m transgender,'" Deanna recounted.
And with that message Deanna’s daughter Aleena became her son, Jake.
"Every thought you could think of just hits you at one time but my initial thought was to go into the room and console my child," she said.
The changes at first were overwhelming, "This has changed my life profoundly, the way I look at life... but these aren’t tears of sadness, they’re tears of joy."
At finally seeing happiness in her son’s eyes.
"I hadn’t seen Aleena smile like that for a very long time and it was beautiful to see that smile," she said.
Now, after seven months, Jake is adjusting well, "Cause I get to be myself pretty much,” he said.
This month he started taking puberty blocking medication which basically suppresses puberty so it’s going to suppress the estrogen that would create breasts and other characteristics.
His mother calls it hitting the “pause button,” allowing her son to take the time to decide what to do next.
"When I was 11, I didn’t know a lot of things but I knew I was a girl," Deanna said. "I never questioned my gender and it just click to me.”
From the age of three, Deanna knew her child was special. She captured all of the playful memories on video camera.
"I can’t tell you know many earrings we’ve had in Aleena’s ear that she would pull out and I decided OK, we are not going to do the earrings, OK, we are not going to do the bow,OK, now are not going to do the dress."
Now together, they’re looking forward to making new memories, "I see Jake having a life that would not be possible living as Aleena."
And learning from each other along the way.
"People are going to look anyways whether you’re tall, whether you’re skinny, whether you have curly hair, you know what I told Jake is ‘they’re already looking, you might as well be you' and I’m learning to be me vicariously through my son.”
Jake will be on puberty blocking medications for about a year. From there, he can decide whether to do cross hormone therapy.
His mom says they’re taking it step by step, and deciding as a family what to do next.