Charlize Theron announced that her seven-year-old daughter Jackson is transgender after rumors her eldest adopted daughter was being raised as a girl.
Adopting more than one child was always a goal for the Oscar-winning actress. It was something she was inspired to do after witnessing orphanages in South Africa, where she grew up as an only child.
She adopted Jackson in 2012, and her second daughter, August, in 2015.
“Even when I was in relationships, I was always honest with my partners, that adoption was how my family would look one day,” she told PEOPLE.
“This was definitely not a second option for me. It was always my first.”
— frozencast (@frozencastmedia) April 20, 2019
Jackson always felt different from an early age.
“Yes, I thought she was a boy, too,” Theron said, according to the Daily Mail.
And when Jackson spoke her truth, Theron was already there to support her.
“Until she looked at me when she was three years old and said: ‘I am not a boy!'”
“So there you go! I have two beautiful daughters who, just like any parent, I want to protect and I want to see thrive.”
People speculated Theron’s eldest was a girl after she was frequently spotted sporting a braid and wearing dresses in public.
And Theron confirmed it was not up to her to decide what kind of people her daughters should be.
“They were born who they are and exactly where in the world both of them get to find themselves as they grow up, and who they want to be, is not for me to decide.”
this is beautiful. we need more parents like this who don’t place their own unsubstantiated fears based on stigma onto their children.
— Matthew Jay (@MATTHEWJAY2000) April 20, 2019
“My job as a parent is to celebrate them and to love them and to make sure that they have everything they need in order to be what they want to be, and I will do everything in my power for my kids to have that right and to be protected within that.”
“You know, I grew up in [South Africa] where people lived with half-truths and lies and whispers and nobody said anything outright, and I was raised very specifically not to be like that.”
You are a wonderful parent and a great person. Your mother did a great job with you
— Peter Navarro (@Pangel0207) April 20, 2019
The 43-year-old explained that she passed down the wisdom she acquired from her mother.
“You can blame my mom for the fact I don’t know any better! You know, I grew up in a country where people lived with half-truths and lies and whispers and nobody said anything outright, and I was raised very specifically not to be like that.”
“I was taught by my mom that you have to speak up; you have to be able to know that, when this life is over, you’ll have lived the truth you’re comfortable with, and that nothing negative can come from that.”
Theron’s decision to stand by her daughter’s sexual identity received backlash, but others defended the actress by clarifying she did not label her child.
She didn't label the child. The child labeled themselves. And if that child changes their mind, Theron will be there to support them, because that's what good parents do.
— Anthony (@anthagiox) April 20, 2019
Kids are not prone to hate unless told to do so. Let them be a happy little girl and support them in living their best life and believe in their classmate’s characters and ability to love them
— Izabelle Stevens (@amethystanxiety) April 20, 2019
The UK-based young gender diverse organization Mermaids praised the actress as well as the media’s positive coverage of her announcement.
Mermaids CEO, Susie Green told Gay Star News about the unfortunate stigma surrounding parents with transgender children.
“Parents are constantly criticized for believing their gender variant children and supporting them to live authentically.”
“We applaud Charline Theron for listening to her daughter. Too often children are dismissed, their feelings regarded as irrelevant.”
“Recognition that a child or young person knows who they are is hugely important, whatever age they trust their parents with this truth.”
The kid is lucky to have a mom that knows what unconditionally love is, and isn’t narrow minded enough to think that innocent displays gender expression like wearing a dress is a “disease” or “degrading” when it makes others uncomfortable.
— MGale (@MGale90) April 19, 2019
“Adopting is not something you take lightly, any more than going through pregnancy is,” said Theron, who is currently single.
“It’s not like you wake up one morning, think: ‘Hmm, I think I’ll adopt,’ and, by 4pm the same day, you have a baby!”
“There’s a lot of time and effort — both practical and emotional — that goes into it. But it’s worth it for the little slice of heaven on toast who is Jackson.”
Contrary to what others may believe, Jackson is in good company and is loved by her strong and independent mom, no matter what.
If you’d like to learn more about being transgender from a child’s perspective, the book I Am Jazz is available here as well as the follow up book, Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen available here.