QUEER VOICES

'Real Housewives' Star Opens Up About Transgender Son After Mario Lopez Debacle

Cindy Barshop said her 9-year-old, Jesse, had a "poignant" response to comments about trans kids made by Lopez, who has since apologized.

Cindy Barshop hopes to raise awareness about the transgender community by opening up about her 9-year-old son, Jesse, who identifies as trans. 

Barshop, who appeared on the fourth season of “Real Housewives of New York” in 2011, said she felt compelled to speak out after Mario Lopez’s controversial remarks about transgender children. 

Appearing on “The Candace Owens Show,” Lopez said it was “dangerous” for parents to allow children to make a “determination” about their gender identity before their formative years. He went on to conflate sexuality and gender identity: “When you’re a kid, you don’t know anything about sexuality yet. You’re just a kid.”

Though Lopez’s quotes were taken from a June 23 interview, they began making the rounds on social media Wednesday. The “Saved by the Bell” star quickly came under fire from a number of LGBTQ advocacy groups, including GLAAD, PFLAG and the Human Rights Campaign

Barshop is a single mother to twins, and in a People magazine interview published Thursday, shared her experiences raising daughter, Zoe, and transgender son, Jesse, both 9. 

“When a child feels comfortable and open, identity issues are able to be discussed in the family environment,” she said. “I believe living in [and] creating an open and positive home so they are able to express themselves.”

She continued, “I’m hoping that the more awareness that we bring that people understand that trans is an identity and has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality.” 

After Lopez’s comments sparked a media firestorm, the actor and television host issued a formal apology. 

“The comments I made were ignorant and insensitive, and I now have a deeper understanding of how hurtful they were,” he said in an email sent to HuffPost and other outlets. “I have been and always will be an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ community, and I am going to use this opportunity to better educate myself. Moving forward I will be more informed and thoughtful.” 

Barshop told People she’d spoken to Jesse about the Lopez debacle, and that her son’s reaction was “poignant.” 

“He said, ‘Why don’t you tell him that we learn about this in 5th grade and he needs to go back to 5th grade?’ It shows how evolved our children are and hopefully the adults will catch up,” she explained. 

CONVERSATIONS