How one couple and their 4 kids coped with a gender transition
“Do you want to be a girl?”
That was the question that finally changed Jennifer and her husband’s lives one day in October 2015. They’d been together for 22 years at that point, ever since they’d met on a cruise ship, where they’d auditioned to be singing waitstaff. Now, four children later, Larry, a family attorney, had slipped into a deep depression and was contemplating suicide.
Jennifer kept asking questions, trying to understand what was happening with her husband.
“I asked, ‘Are you sleeping with someone?’
‘Are you gay?’
‘Do you like men?’
‘Do you like women?’
‘Yes.’” she says.
“I was grasping at anything that was out of the ordinary.”
Then Jennifer asked her husband if he felt feminine. And Larry, who now goes by Lawren, told her he did.
“I never knew how to say it, and she kind of said it for me,” Lawren tells The Post. “She opened the door to allow me to say it out loud, really, for the first time in my life.”
The Virginia couple, who declined to give their last names, is one of four pairs sharing their stories on the new series “Lost in Transition,” premiering Sunday on TLC.
After that emotionally shattering night, Jennifer, 47, says they spent the next year “trying to make it go away. We saw specialists, we saw therapists, we saw doctors — because it couldn’t be possible that this was really what was happening.”
But, they learned, her now 43-year-old spouse’s gender dysphoria — the nagging feeling that her identity was at odds with her biological sex — wasn’t a passing phase.
With Jennifer’s blessing, Larry began taking female hormones, and in October 2017, two years after that initial conversation, she started living full-time as a Lawren. As a transgender woman, Lawren still practices law, and remains a devoted spouse and parent.
The couple say there have been challenges: Emotional intimacy and cuddling have replaced sex. But, Jennifer says, she never once considered leaving.
“This is the person I’ve invested my life with. How could I run away from that?”
Lawren says her children — Jacqueline, 16, twins Isabella and Madeline, 12, and Lawson, 9 — have been “amazing” throughout her transition.
“They’re always by my side, and if I’m nervous about going somewhere new [as a woman],” she says, “they’ll hold my hand and say, ‘Daddy, I’ll go with you.’”
Support has also come from unexpected places. Lawson, Isabella and Madeline attend a local Catholic school. When the couple agreed to do the TLC show, they spoke with the principal.
“We went to her at the beginning of the year and said, ‘This is what’s happening with our family, and if it’s a problem, we’ll leave,’” Jennifer says. “The principal said, ‘Absolutely not.’ She said, ‘I challenge anyone to walk into the room and disparage your family.’”
Lawren says that the love she’s received from her wife, kids and the community has been awe-inspiring, and that she no longer fantasizes about killing herself.
“I’m going to make it,” she says, “and that’s not something I would have said a year ago.”