(TODAY) – Heather Lundberg Green was like any other proud mother when she posted pictures on Facebook filled with blue balloons as part of a gender reveal announcement for her son.
The only difference is that her son, Adrian Brown, is 20 years old.
Brown came out to his family as a transgender man in September, which led to Green, 39, deciding to celebrate her son’s 20th birthday on Jan. 29 by putting the news out there for all of their family and friends in a fun way.
Weary from repeating the same conversation to loved ones, the family from Louisville, Kentucky, just decided to have a goofy and heartwarming photo shoot announcing to the world that “It’s a boy!”
The pictures of a smiling Brown swaddled in a blanket and holding blue balloons with Green and his younger brother, Lucas, 17, have led to an enormous outpouring of support since Green posted them on Facebook.
“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,” Green wrote in the post.
“Everybody has reached out just saying thank you for this because it means we can celebrate this,” Green told TODAY. “My kid is a boy. When a parent says ‘I’m having a boy,’ you go, ‘Yay, congratulations!’ That should be true even if they’re 20 in this case.”
“Since this post has gotten so much positive feedback, I’ve felt like I can stand up for myself and say this is who I am,” Brown told TODAY. “If you don’t like it that’s fine, but you need to respect how I feel and how I want to live my life, and just use the right name and the right pronouns and stop being mean for the sake of being mean.”
Brown first came out to Lucas this past fall, to which his brother replied in typical teen deadpan fashion, “OK.”
“I said, ‘What would you think if I wanted to be a boy and change my name?'” Brown said. “He said, ‘Well, you’d have to change your name tag at work.”
His reaction gave Brown, who grew up as Hannah, the courage to tell his mother that he is a transgender man.
“I was obviously a little scared,” Brown said. “I always knew my mom would accept me and be loving and supporting, but it was nerve-racking to say, ‘Here’s this big part of me, what do you think?”’
“I told him that I didn’t know how to react, but of course I was going to love him through this,” Green said.
“From a parent’s perspective, there’s almost a feeling of loss when a child comes out, even the parents that support it. You kind of go through a mourning process of letting go of, for me, this sweet little girl that I raised, while accepting his journey and his truth.”
Green and Brown have received messages of thanks and hope from all over the world from transgender people and their families.
A study released in 2018 by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that transgender adolescents have a dramatically higher rate of suicide behavior than the general population, particularly those transitioning from female to male.
“There’s been transgender people saying they were on the verge of suicide, and seeing the love and support we received has renewed their faith in humanity that people are beginning to accept and celebrate their community,” Green said. “Those messages break my heart and lift it up at the same time.”
“I’m glad it’s helping so many people,” Brown said. “One day my brother came home and gave me this bone-crushing hug, and he said a boy at his school who came out to his parents as trans had been considering suicide, and the reason he had the courage to tell them was because he saw the (Facebook) post.”
Brown thought his mother’s photo shoot idea was a little corny at first, but went along with it and had fun. Kara Davis, 14, the daughter of Green’s boyfriend, Scott Davis, snapped the photos of the gender reveal.
“Both of my sons have been good about going along with my hare-brained schemes,” Green said. “(Kara) thought I was insane, but she laughed and was like ‘go ahead.’ I think she really captured our essence in those photos.”
The most gratifying part for Green may be the change she has seen in her son since the viral Facebook post.
“Before he kind of walked around with this air of apology, trying not to interfere or upset anyone else,” she said. “Since this post, he’s just been empowered and has a joy and a light that beams from him.”