Queens family raises two transgender kids

This Queens family attends the borough's 22nd annual Pride Parade. Photo by Alex Robinson
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Jeff and Mary Timmons were surprised when their second son Gabriel told them he wanted to be a girl at 4, but the bigger shock was when their youngest daughter, Jamie, also turned out to be a transgender child.

The couple adopted three children at young ages from Russia and Kazakhstan. The family asked that aliases be used for this story to protect their privacy.

When Gabriel first said he wanted to be a girl, his parents thought it might be a phase, but soon realized it was not.

“We said be what you want to be,” Jeff said. “Gabriel was always a gentle boy. He was always playing with dolls rather than guns, trucks or wheels. He was a gentle soul. It made sense. All we cared about was the proper way to go about it.”

The Queens parents sought advice from counselors, psychiatrists and doctors. At 7, Gabriel became Gabriella and started the second grade as a girl.

When their youngest child, Jamie, started saying she wanted to be a boy like her oldest brother Andrew, 11, the couple were well-equipped to handle the situation.

“We knew what to do. We had all the books and the resources,” Jeff said.

Jamie, 6, made the transition before he started school and arrived for his first day of kindergarten as a boy.

Jeff said the idea did not come to him as naturally as it did to his wife, as he was worried how his children would be received by others.

“I didn’t want the kids to be bullied. We knew they had a lot to overcome by purely being adopted,” he said. “I was all right with having Gabriella wear girls’ clothes in the house and at the playground, but didn’t know if it was a good idea for her to wear them at school.”

The transition, however, could not have been smoother and the family received a lot of support from the school the children attend in Jackson Heights.

“Sometimes there is a worry of trans children being shunned by their peers, but luckily we didn’t have those issues,” he said.

Gabriella is now 9 and will one day have to make the decision whether she wants to have surgery to fully transition. Before that time comes, Gabriella will start taking hormonal blockers before she hits puberty to delay its effects.

At 16, she will decide if she wants to continue living as a girl, at which point, she will start taking estrogen to induce female puberty in addition to the hormonal blockers to stifle male puberty.

“If a child reaches that age and then decides it doesn’t feel like a girl any more and decides to be a boy, then they can just stop the blockers and go through all the steps of puberty a few years after his or her friends,” Jeff said.

The proud father took his three children to this year’s Queens Pride Parade.

“We always try to talk to the kids about it and make them proud of who they are,” he said.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 3:17 pm, November 6, 2014
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Reader feedback

Nature or nurture from queens says:
Nature or nuture
June 5, 2014, 9:15 am
Maine mama says:
Way to go! I love to see kids accepted exactly as they are!
June 5, 2014, 8:11 pm
Max from Kazakhstan says:
This kids has been adopted, I think they still struggling to get used to different mental environment. You can’t just get rid of genes; they are from different social background. Even though they were infants once arrived to US. They still fill something they can’t explain. I can’t believe these so called parents did that to their kids.
June 7, 2014, 1:57 am
jake from canada says:
Max from Kazakhstan, you sir are an idiot
June 7, 2014, 10:41 am
samantha usa from west lafayette IN says:
I think the parents are awesome for helping their kids transition, wish my dad had been there when I came out at 26, but I did just fine with out him, I look 100% now and have support. those kids will be fine as long as they have support
June 7, 2014, 6:50 pm
Sultan from Kazahstan says:
stupidity, how can a 4 year old child decide anything?If he wants to be or become a rabbit or a kitten?
June 7, 2014, 9:21 pm
samantha from west lafayette says:
well how did you know you were a boy sultan? you just did, same with a transgender boy or girl, get over your ignorance please
June 7, 2014, 9:29 pm
Hannah from USA says:
Actually Sultan, every child forms their gender identity (whatever it may be) between the ages of 3 and 6 so yes, 4 years old is about the correct time for a child to decide something like their gender. Do your research before you make hurtful claims.
June 7, 2014, 9:38 pm
Sultan from Kazahstan says:
I see it
June 7, 2014, 9:55 pm
Sultan from Kazahstan says:
Why decide? They will see their gender... .
June 7, 2014, 10:01 pm
Hannah from USA says:
Sex and gender are two separate things. A person's sex is what they are biologically identified as at birth, a person's gender is what they mentally identify as. Being trans is having a different sex and gender. Yet again, do your research before you comment. You just sound ignorant.
June 7, 2014, 10:11 pm
Sultan from Kazakhstan says:
and it gives you an excuse to stuff children hormonal blockers?
June 7, 2014, 10:36 pm
Max from Kazakhstan says:
Jake or Jerk?
June 7, 2014, 11:09 pm
Max from Kazakhstan says:
Just for Jake/Jerk or may be Jane, let him/her decide.

Missing genetic information is important for obvious medical reasons. It is important for everyone to have knowledge of the medical history because it can provide clues to genetic diseases. For example, in case D, the patient entered psychotherapy unaware that he had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. His family was unaware of this as well. If more had been known about the birth parents, it might have been possible to predict his childhood problems at home and at school. It was only after entering psychotherapy that he was evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD and appropriately treated for this. The information was relieving to both him and his adoptive parents because everyone now knew that he was never "bad" or "dumb" but afflicted with this disorder of the brain

It's a discovery its well known fact.
If you will:
June 7, 2014, 11:28 pm
john from pittsylvania county, va says:
I am glad that these parents are open-minded and supportive! Would that all people were such!
June 8, 2014, 7:16 am
Jeff Timmons from New York says:
First of all, I would like to thank you guys for your words of support. It means a lot to us.
And, to address the persons on the other side of the debate, when Gabriella told us how she feels on the inside, we made sure that she knows that we love her no matter what and that would never change. Then we spoke to doctors, school personnel, specialists in the field, other parents of children with non conforming gender. They all agreed that this is something that is not environmental and, as such, cannot be changed from the outside. We need to love and support our children as long as they are not hurting themselves or others. I personally do not think that I'm smarter than doctors who spent years learning about and researching the subject. In a same way, if the scientists are saying there IS a climate change, I'm not gonna go against them all and say "You people are all wrong just 'cause".
To Max: You said that it's because they're from "different social background". If that was true, most of thousands of children adopted internationally every year would be gender non conforming. That is not the case, actually, the percentages are the same for biological and adopted children.
I Wish you all the best
June 10, 2014, 9:11 am
jojo from queens village says:
i wanted to be an astronaut and then a boy but i had no penis. i wish there were people around me when i was 7 that would have given me a penis. it would have been so easy to figure everything else out from there. as it turns out i had to deal with reality and this was very difficult. i liked my childhood fantasy so much more. I think the third child here who is sticking with their sex is missing out on a golden opportunity to get attention and live their dreams.
June 14, 2014, 7:47 pm
Wendy from Charlotte says:
It pains me there is still so much ignorance and prejudice in the world today. Those who lash out against people they don't even know is deplorable. It's a parent's job to nurture their child, to provide them a path of enrichment and enlightenment. If a child is tormented because they're forced to live a lie when they don't feel they're the sex they are, it's nothing short of abuse and neglect. I couldn't fathom forcing my child to wear dresses when she wants pants or vice versa. Allow your child to be who they are INSIDE. If you're worried how others will perceive you, you shouldn't have children.
June 26, 2014, 3:43 pm
anon from USA says:
I'd love to see kids accepted as exactly who they are, too bad these kids are living in a culture that encourages them to change themselves in order to behave a certain way.

What does "gender non-conforming" even mean, really? Only a culture that thinks gender roles are inherent to the sexes would come up with that, and see it as a problem that needs to be fixed.
Sept. 30, 2014, 8:05 am

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