‘Open-mindedness is really key’: How one family supports their transgender child


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — Life has been a journey for State College residents Mieke Haeck and Ezra Nanes.

They drove to State College from New York City with their daughter, Mila, who was just a few weeks old at the time.

“When we got to this area, when you drove down to Park Avenue along campus it was so beautiful. I just got this magic feeling,” Ezra recalled.

Later on, their family of three extended to four after the birth of another child: Raffa. Mieke and Ezra decided that State College was a wonderful place to raise their kids.

“I just felt super confident when they were starting kindergarten they would be in great hands,” Mieke said.

As comfortable as they were, their family was about to change forever: their eight-year-old daughter was born as a boy but identifies as a girl.

With this new reality, Ezra admits he had a tough time processing it at first.

“As a father, I was growing up, I had a daughter who I loved very much and I had a son,”
Ezra said. “And I had to let go of the idea of having a son, and embrace the idea of having two daughters. And that took some time.”

Home wasn’t the only place where others had a difficult time accepting Raffa’s transition.

Mieke said they went into the territory of allowing Raffa to wear more “girl-ish” clothes for a while before she went into a full transition.

“With kids that caused, I think, a lot of tension. She was teased at school,” Mieke said.

However, once it became accepted in their household, many of the struggles Raffa faced in school with academics, and anxiety, went away.

Mieke said that Raffa was always an amazing kid, but that there was a kind of light that lit up inside of her once the family really embraced her and her gender.

Right now it’s about using her correct pronouns, dressing how she wants, and more importantly, being happy.

While more challenges lie ahead down the road, especially once Raffa enters her teenage years, their focus is taking things day by day.

“She loves her body, she loves her pronouns, she loves her clothing and hair, and we just have to see how she wants to become or who she wants to become, so I think open-mindedness is really key,” Ezra added.

Ezra and Mieke hope that telling their story will help families who are struggling with acceptance of a change in gender identity and to let them know they are not alone.

“Transgender people and kids are the real brave people in these stories because they go out there every day fighting for their right to be who they are,” Mieke said.

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February 07 2021 06:30 pm

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