Jamie Alexander is the proud father of his 13-year-old trans daughter, Ruby.
And, together, they have created a swimwear line for trans girls and non-binary kids.
BuzzFeed spoke to Jamie, who is sharing Ruby's story with her permission. "Ruby’s relationship with girls clothing and shoes as she navigated her gender identity may have started as early as 3 years old," he said, explaining that Ruby always danced around in his wife's heels as a toddler.
During that time, Jamie didn't think anything of it. He just assumed it was something all little kids probably do. However, the summer when Ruby was 4, he started noticing some things. "We went to the beach often, and while some kids chose to swim in the lake or build sandcastles, Ruby would spend hours fashioning her towel into a skirt. Once she got it just right, she would sashay along the beach as though she was in a photo shoot," he said.
And, when she was 5, Ruby became obsessed with princesses. Jamie recalled, "Ruby always wanted to act out the movie Tangled — with me as the prince and her as Rapunzel. Her head was always wrapped up in multiple bedsheets, knotted together, and dangling down a flight of stairs to aid her rescue. That performance ran every day for a solid year."
"Ruby also held distain shirts that covered her shoulders and only wanted to wear tank tops. I traveled a lot for work at that time and it took me a while to realize that the souvenir T-shirts I would bring home would lay dormant in her drawers. One time, I opened her room and she was hacking away at the sleeves of one of my latest gifts with a pair of scissors."
At the end of third grade, Ruby would wear sports bras, leggings, and other clothes she borrowed from her friends. Ruby made it clear, at that point, that she was ready to transition.
Ruby had been accepted into an arts school that selects 30 girls and 30 boys out of 500 kids. "I had to call the principal and explain that they may have a gender imbalance at the school because one of their male students was going to start school as a girl. As if it was destiny that year, in a bureaucratic error, they had accepted 31 boys and 29 girls. The principal was overjoyed that this bungle could be reversed," he said, adding that Ruby's principal has been one of the most supportive and influential figures in her school life.
With all of activities Ruby was involved in both at and after school — such as swimming, gymnastics, and dance — buying swimwear, leggings, and leotards became necessary. This caused endless anxiety about how Ruby could safely wear form-fitting clothing.
"Ruby just wants to wear the same clothes as most of her girlfriends. In some cases, it seemed she wouldn’t be able to do so safely until I started exploring options for trans girls. I discovered there are a few places where you can buy bikinis and underwear geared toward trans people. Ruby has tried a few with varying levels of success."
This experience led Jamie to think about making clothes to accommodate non-binary children. And this is when he decided to develop the swimsuit line with Ruby.
Looking back now, Jamie said he feels bad for being reluctant early on to let Ruby wear what she wanted. He recalled a couple of Halloweens when Ruby was in first and second grade, begging to be princesses, but he and his wife talked her out of it.
"Ultimately, we were — and continue to be — worried about her safety, and being a responsible parent is about making difficult decisions."
While the family has gone to a number of pride marches over the years, they have now transitioned from spectators to participants. Jamie said, "The last two trans marches have had great turnouts and we all can bask in the open affirmation of Ruby’s identity."
Jamie is happy about the place where both he, Angie, and Ruby are at now. "I would like to imagine a world where kids can wear whatever they want, irrespective of their anatomy. I am certain in another generation this will be the case, at least in the progressive cities of North America. In the meantime, we can find ways to help our kids express themselves safely."
If you want to learn more or connect with Jamie or Ruby, you can follow them on Instagram. Here is a link to their swimwear line.
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