This article received the 2019 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism GOLD award for Best Long Hard Feature

More and more children are openly identifying as a gender that’s different or more complex than the sex they were born into. About 9,000 Wisconsin middle school- to high school-aged kids self-identify as transgender, nonbinary and gender expansive/nonconforming, or TNG. Some families of TNG kids — ages 4 to 15 across Dane, Jefferson and Rock counties — talk about who they are, what they need and why it matters.

As soon as Trish could talk, she told her parents she was a girl.

Her father, Mike Winter, is a burly, gregarious stay-at-home dad in Lake Mills, a community of 5,898 people that’s about a 20-minute drive from Madison. Winter is known as the friendliest guy in town, inviting everyone within shouting distance to his frequent cookouts and garage parties. His wife, Jen, is a pediatrician, their daughter Katie is in sixth grade, and Trish — born a boy named Patrick — is now a fifth-grader….

The Person THEY Were Meant to Be

Local Transgender Kids Strive to Live as the Person They Were Meant to Be

Madison Magazine cover story, February 2019

The experience of working on this cover story truly humbled me. There’s just something about kids, and how they say things, and how they see things as they are. Thank you to the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc. (ASJA) for the competitive grant award that created a national platform for stories like these, and to Madison Magazine for devoting so many pages (10!) to a thoughtful, responsible spread that includes resources and a glossary. Thank you to the editorial team, fact-checkers and graphic designers for handling this topic with dignity, and to Ruthie Hauge Photography for the beautiful photos that captured the love and joy I saw firsthand in these families. Thank you especially to the kids, who put themselves out there when they didn’t have to, shouldn’t have to. But they really wanted to, and I hope you will read their stories. 

Read the full article here.

—Maggie Ginsberg is an award-winning freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin

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