More than 150,000 teenagers identify as transgender across the United States. These teens, ages 13–17, make up the highest percentage of self-identified transgender individuals. But, despite that, a lot of them don’t receive support from their parents.
Approximately 40% of homeless youth — about 640,000 children and teens — are LGBTQ. Of those children, 46% run away because their family refused and rejected their gender identity or sexual orientation, and 43% were thrown out of the house by their own parents.
Silvia Park from Charlottesville, Virginia, was not one of those parents.
Instead, the mother of two had unwavering support for her transgender son from the moment he came out. The now 21-year-old told her he was transgender at 16, simply saying, “I’m a boy,” as the two of them drove in her car.
Park was shocked and initially speechless, but supportive:
I had no doubt my husband and I would support him as a transgender man—a person who transitions from a female birth assignment.
One uterus transplant has born a child in Sweden, and another in the United States.
Despite the science being a stretch and the surgeries and side effects a great risk, she wanted to be one of the first people to help make it happen:
As a mother of two biological children and one stepchild, I’ve always believed that everyone should have the right to decide whether they want to carry a child, regardless of their gender. And I desperately wanted to contribute to the cause.
Park realized that her donated uterus wouldn’t go to a trans woman but would aid doctors in learning more:
I’ve already had two children and have no plans to carry another. I could donate my uterus. Although it wouldn’t go to a trans woman who wanted to have a baby, my donation could help doctors learn more about the procedure, and, I hoped, lead to another clinical trial that would give trans women the ability to conceive.
She spoke with someone at Baylor and inquired about the transplant. This would mean that she could never conceive a child again but, at age 49, with two biological children and one stepson, she said she had no desire for more children.
Being a biological mother of two and delivering these children at full-term, with no complications, she was eligible to participate, and booked a flight to Dallas, Texas, for screenings at Baylor. She was approved a few weeks after the trip but the university could compensate only medical expenses and on-campus housing post-transplant because of a law against selling human organs.
To raise money for additional costs, Park started a GoFundMe. She has raised $1,650 of her $2,500 goal, and plans on donating remaining funds to Side By Side, a nonprofit that creates loving, supportive communities for LGBTQ+ children and teens.
She received a match and set a date for a spring surgery. Most everyone was supportive but friends were concerned and confused about why she’d volunteer to do this.
Park made it seem like an easy decision:
I felt like it was such a small thing for me to do. I had absolutely no use for my uterus.
As the big day approached, Park, who had never had any type of surgery before, learned the risks of the procedure. She felt sharp pain in her swollen abdomen post-operation and one of her legs was numb from nerve inflammation. The surgery took longer than doctors anticipated, a total of eight hours, precautions being taken so the patient and organs would be safe and sound.
Morphine, over-the-counter painkillers, and various narcotics aided her recovery from the transplant, and Park admitted she can understand people who don’t want to participate in voluntary surgery:
I mean, I went into it super fit, and recovery still took quite a toll on my body—I can’t imagine what it must be like for people who go in when they’re sick.
She is still glad she went through with it and had a lasting, life-changing impact on another woman’s life:
As I move on with my life, the organ that made me a mother may soon give another woman a chance to experience the same kind of joy parenthood has given me. Thinking of my uterus carrying someone else’s baby doesn’t strike me as weird. I no longer had a need for the body part. Now, it’s being put to better use.
Park went from not being able to lift objects heavier than 10 pounds to running marathons and races in about a month.
She hasn’t spoken to her transgender son much about the donation. But that isn’t the reason Park did it:
At the end of the day, I don’t need him to tell me he’s proud of what I did. I like to think I would have done the same thing if I didn’t have a transgender child.
Twitter praised Park:
That is a beautiful thing, and so nice of her to do
— Emilie Green (@emiliegreen1122) July 11, 2018
Some are calling this clinical trial, and the babies born from it, a miracle:
Wow!!! A miracle of life!
— loremor (@lore1mor) December 2, 2017
An absolute miracle wow ❤️
— Maren (@blsdx7) December 2, 2017
And some are inspired to donate their own uteruses:
Gee, I won't be using mine anymore. I wonder if it still works. One way to find out.
— ***Miss Chess Dot Com*** An Illinoisan (@zealandzen) December 20, 2017
Can I do this?
— Vegan Beauty Queen ⓥ ♎️ (@vegan_mua) July 11, 2018
No doubt, both her son and the woman who received the uterus are proud of Park, as is the internet.