On Monday, Jake Ralston went before a district court judge in Clark County, Nevada, and said why he wanted to change his name and gender on his birth certificate to reflect what he's known since he was five years old: he identifies as a man, not a woman.
“I told him that this was something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I told the truth and nothing but the truth—I had sworn to. He stopped me about halfway through,” Ralston told the Washington Post. The judge approved the change on the 20-year-old's birth certificate, officially changing his name from Madeline to Jake.
He called his dad, political reporter Jon Ralston, and a few hours later Jon wrote this moving blog post, titled "The Child I Love."
In a climate where transgender people in North Carolina are being targeted by exclusionary policies and other states including Texas have suggested they may try to follow suit, Ralston's letter of love to his son is a humanizing moment that reminds us of what it looks like when trans people are treated with the same love and respect as everyone else.
"When Maddy Ralston came into this world almost 21 years ago, it was love at first sight," he wrote. "I cradled her in my arms, my adopted miracle, and couldn’t stop crying. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen." He goes on to talk about how Jake (then going by "Maddy") had a boyfriend, then a girlfriend, then realized along the way that he was transgender and that was the piece of his identity he'd been trying to reconcile:
As a political reporter (he's the host of Ralston Live on PBS and is a contributing editor at Politico), Jake's dad has encountered all those transphobic, ignorant attitudes. But he wrote that right now, all he's thinking about is that his child is the happiest he's ever seen him. And here's the conclusion he's arrived at, the week that his son officially gets to embrace the identity that feels right for him: