Heather Lundberg Green of Louisville told HuffPost that when it came time to celebrate 20-year-old Adrian’s birthday, she decided to stage a photo shoot acknowledging the fact that he had come out to his family as trans just two months earlier.
The result was a playful take on the gender reveal photo trend ― only in this case, the images announce that Adrian identifies as a boy. Green didn’t spare on details, either, sporting a faux pregnant belly in a few of the images, and having Adrian wrap himself in blankets like a newborn in others.
Some of the most heartwarming shots show Adrian being embraced by his mother and 17-year-old brother, Lucas.
“When your child comes out as trans, the best thing to do is create a photoshoot to celebrate the fact that he silently and bravely stepped out of the race that he never wanted to be in, found his own lane and proceeded to win,” she wrote in a Jan. 29 Facebook post. Calling Adrian “the most fascinating human I know,” she added, “I love you, I honor who you are and I respect your courage to be unapologetically you!”
Green told HuffPost the idea for the photo shoot was simply born of her wish “to celebrate a milestone in my child’s life.”
“Honestly, when he told me he was transitioning, I was determined to support him through his journey, but I had no idea how,” she said. “I’ve always had many friends in the LGBTQ community, and still I wasn’t sure what steps I should take as his mother, or even what an appropriate response was outside of ‘I still love you.’ How do I tell people, how do I set the tone in our corner of the universe for his journey to be as smooth as possible?”
Once Green and Adrian had decided on the look of the shoot, she picked up the balloons and props at a party store and called in her boyfriend’s 14-year-old daughter, Kara Davis, to shoot the photos with a new camera she received for Christmas. “Not only were we celebrating my trans son, we were also empowering a young woman to create art that the world needed to see,” she explained.
Still, Green acknowledged posting the images was a bit of a gamble, especially at a time when transgender people are facing increased persecution across the U.S. and trans youth as a whole face a disproportionately high risk of attempting suicide.
“I’m well aware that some people out there won’t agree with us or choose to offer their love and support,” she said. “But those people are not our people ... it must be exhausting to hate people you don’t even know.”
Green said she initially shared the photos on social media with the hope of sharing the moment with her friends, but they instantly took on a life of their own and went viral online. As of Thursday afternoon, Green’s original post had been shared more than 16,000 times and garnered more than 29,000 likes.
“This is one of the coolest things ever,” one person wrote. “This is what great parenting and unconditional love looks like!” Added another, “A mother’s love knows no gender. You are lucky to have each other.”
Ultimately, Green said she’d like people to view the photos simply as a statement of joy.
“It’s not enough to accept or ‘put up’ with the transgender community. We need to celebrate them,” she said. “These men and women have had courage that is beyond anything we can fathom. We should be able to celebrate our similarities and differences with all of the people of the world.”
As to the message she’d most like parents of trans kids to take away from her experience, she said, “Trust your children, respect them, accept that you don’t know everything there is to know, let them teach you.”