This Mother’s Day, we’re honoring a very special mom and a huge supporter of the transgender community. Ofelia Barba lives in Los Angeles with her daughter Zoe who is currently in 7th grade. Zoe openly identified as transgender after switching schools in the middle of her 5th grade year. The two of them discuss their amazing journey together in the “My Authentic Life” video series from the Transgender Law Center.
“Zoe came to me when she was very young, about 4-years-old, and would explain to me that she was a girl and not a boy,” Barba says in the video. Her daughter coming out at an early age caused issues at school and Barba noticed her daughter beginning to struggle.
“It was difficult for her during her elementary years in school. There was a lot of discrimination. She couldn’t come out to her peers, she couldn’t tell them how she felt about herself, she couldn’t wear her hair in a ponytail because she was still back then presenting as a boy and we fought for her opportunity to be ok in school and be able to be herself. She became a totally different person. She’s much happier. She’s very comfortable with herself. She’s very self-confident, very strong. I’m extremely proud of her. Things have really changed. Her grades are much better. She doesn’t miss school. That’s a big thing because before, you know, she wouldn’t even go to school. She didn’t want to be in school.”
Zoe is feeling much better in school now for many reasons, one of those being recent legislation that was passed in California. “I am so glad that AB 1266 passed,” she said, “because now it allows me to use the restrooms that I follow with as a girl and there’s no, ‘oh well you can’t really use that’ because the law passed, and so now I’m allowed to use it and I’m just really grateful that it passed.”
Another reason that Zoe is doing so well is because she has a wonderful support system at home. When asked who her role models are, she identifies her mom. “She’s so brave and she’s just always there for me. I love her so much and she’s just one of my biggest inspirations.”
Ofelia Barba could teach a lot of people a lesson in parenting, tolerance, and understanding. The support she has given her daughter has transformed Zoe’s life for the better, and Barba continues to inspire others with words of hope.
“What I can say to a student or a child or a young adult or young person who is transgender and is having difficulties is if you can’t get the support at home, search and you will find support. There are a lot of people out there that are allies that understand your plight, you know, that are willing to do anything to help you get through. Mostly I want you to know that you are valuable, you’re important and you know, that we need you here in this world and in this community. You can shine through no matter what anyone else thinks.”
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