Say hello to 10-year-old Rebekah Bruesehoff, the child activist who ironically describes herself as the ‘scary transgender person the media warned you about.’
Along with her supportive mum Jamie Bruesehoff, Rebekah from New Jersey, who started transitioning two years ago, is working to spread awareness about the transgender community at rallies around the country.
Rebekah Bruesehoff was born Ben, but it became clear from a young age that she did not identify as male.
Jamie explains, ‘Rebekah has always been gender non-conforming. As young as two or three, she gravitated towards typically feminine things. She loved pink and sparkles and all things girly – and that was fine with us.’
‘As her gender non-conformity intensified, we started to notice some distress around things like being grouped with boys at school or in activities. By the time she was 7, all of this kind of hit a crisis point. Her anxiety was crippling and her depression was becoming life threatening and we were at a loss.’
‘We were faced with a 7-year-old kid who wanted to die. One time she punched out the screen in her second storey window and tried to jump out.’
Completely terrified at the prospect of losing their daughter, Jamie and her pastor husband Christopher sought the help of a gender specialist in order to support Rebekah.
Working together, the counsellor helped both Rebekah and her family to fully understand the root cause of her unhappiness. She wasn’t a boy who liked pink, she was a girl trapped in a male body.
Rebekah admits, ‘the hardest part of all this was when I didn’t transition and I was not happy and it didn’t feel right.’
‘This is definitely me. I am a girl. I am a girl in my head, in my heart.’
They wanted a family of their own
‘I think I’m gonna take some medicine so I can kinda transform into a boy'
After this realisation, Rebekah Bruesehoff socially transitioned in July 2016 before legally changing her name from Ben to Rebekah.
Jamie explains, ‘we saw the difference in her. She was just a different kid. It was like a cloud had lifted. She was just more of herself. She was vibrant and she was excited and she was happy and her personality kind of just exploded all over the place.’
Following her transition, Rebekah created a ‘Ben box’, where she keeps memories of her former identity.
She explains, ‘when I see pictures of Ben, I just think of it as part of my past and now I’m me.’
For now, Rebekah is thrilled to be being recognised and treated as a girl – but with puberty looming, her parents are busy researching the medical side of transitioning.
Jamie says, ‘Rebekah really doesn’t like thinking about the medical side of this. She doesn’t want to develop into a man.’
‘So medically transitioning involves a lot of different steps and every transgender person chooses their own adventure.’
‘For Rebekah the first steps will be puberty blockers, which will pause puberty and stop her from going through male puberty.’
‘As far as surgery, she hasn’t indicated a desire for that. But that is a decision she gets to make down the road anyway. That’s not something she would do before she’s 18.’
Sadly, it’s not just the medical implications of Rebekah’s transition that the Bruesehoff family are worried about. Dad Christopher admits that he is terrified his daughter may face prejudice in the future.
He says, ‘I’m always worried about the reaction with Rebekah, both in the community, in the church, and in the world. I’m very worried about how the world is going to treat her because I see a lot of ugliness in the world on a regular basis.’
‘Our hopes for Rebekah’s future are that she gets to be who she, is as boldly as she wants to be, and that folks accept who she is.’
For now, you’d be lucky to meet a happier little girl than Rebekah Bruesehoff, and she is determined to inspire others with her story.
She says, ‘I want to make a difference in the world by speaking out and spreading hopeful messages.’
‘My friends don’t even believe me when I tell them I’m transgender – I’m just a girl.’
‘I want to send the message of ‘you are not alone and you are safe’ to other transgender kids.’