When Julie and Daniel Hindsley's transgender daughter, Ella, first told them she wanted to be a girl, they didn't know what to expect, but 6-year-old Ella has since transitioned to the little girl she's always wanted to be thanks to unwavering support from her family.
"The first time she told me to 'make her a girl' out of frustration, I was shocked, scared, and freaking out inside," Julie told POPSUGAR. "She had told me many times prior to that that she had wished she was a girl and wished she could have long hair and wear dresses. When she got upset about it, I tried to appease her by telling her we could grow out her hair."
Eager to help their child navigate her identity, Julie and Daniel immediately began looking for a counselor. "I knew deep down Ella was transgender, but talking with the counselor helped me feel better about saying it out loud," Julie explained. "I knew talking to someone would help my husband as well. She told us that we needed to let Ella lead and that the sooner we did the social transition, the better it would be for her mental well-being."
"[The counselor] told us that we needed to let Ella lead and that the sooner we did the social transition, the better it would be for her mental well-being."
After working with their therapist, Julie and Daniel felt equipped to help Ella. "After our joint session, my husband started privately looking at girls' names that started with an E, and I caught him," she said. "It was huge and his first realization that we had a transgender daughter. He was fully on board with supporting her."
The next step for the family was helping Ella navigate the impending school year as a girl. Although Daniel and Julie asked Ella's thoughts on the matter, they already knew the answer. "She was thrilled," Julie said. "We were in the middle of the school year, so we told her she would have to wait as it would be hard on everyone around her to change. Looking back now, we should have just tried to either get the school on board quicker or shouldn't have mentioned a social transition to her until we were fully ready to do it."
Although Ella hadn't formally used she/her pronouns in school before the COVID-19 outbreak, her classmates were very accepting of her expressing gender through clothes. "We did end up letting her wear whatever she wanted to school in the middle of the year, but did not change name or pronouns yet," Julie shared. "The first week that she wore full-on feminine clothing, she got questions from a few kids, but overall her experience went well."
"The first week that she wore full-on feminine clothing, she got questions from a few kids, but overall her experience went well."
To officially celebrate Ella embracing her true identity, Julie staged a gender-reveal photo shoot. She enlisted the help of photographer Heather Harris Witt, and the family took photos they hope Ella will cherish for years to come.
"Although typical gender reveals seem to place a significant amount of stress on how important it is to be a boy or a girl 20 weeks before the child is born, I felt it was necessary to have this photoshoot for Ella," Julie explained in a Facebook post. Plus, she added, "Her favorite color has always happened to be pink."