Family, school support 6-year-old transgender girl

Family, school support 6-year-old transgender girl

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Bo Frank and his partner Thomas Luna were there when little Sakoda Frank was born six years ago. They adopted the baby boy and raised him as their own.

But last Christmas, Sakoda declared that she was a girl.

"From the time she was two to four, that's all I heard: 'I wish I was a girl, I wish I was a girl,'" said father Bo Frank.

"And then when I was five, I became a girl!" exclaimed Sakoda, sitting in Frank's lap.

"She said, 'Dad, I am a girl,'" Frank continued. "And at this point, you know -- stuff got real."

At first, it was a difficult situation for her parents, even though they say there were signs as Sakoda grew older.

"We'd hand her a football. She'd get rid of it and go get a doll," said Frank. "We'd give her Spider Man or Iron Man, and she'd go to Hello Kitty. You know, she always gravitated to those kinds of things, so it wasn't that big of a surprise."

Even though it wasn't that big of a surprise, Frank said, "You have hopes and dreams for your child, and then when something like that comes about, all these worries pop into your head. Is she going to be safe? Yeah, she's safe when she's with us. But when she's not with us, are people going to tease her? Are they going to pick on her? Are they going to hurt her?"

So far, the family members say they've been very lucky. Her older brother has accepted the change, and they've received support from their friends and her school, which allows her to use the girls restroom.

But how does a young child make such a decision?

"I tell them it's not a decision," Frank responded. "That's who they are, and they know who they are."

Frank and Luna recently stepped down as cheerleading coaches at Radford High School after winning eleven straight state titles so that they could focus on their family. They're also pleased that the state Department of Education is working on a policy for transgender students.

Frank said most people don't know the difference between sex and gender.

"Sex is anatomically and biologically what makes you male or female," he said. Gender is more like social, psychological and emotional characteristics that are influenced by society."

Six-year-old Sakoda said she is transgender. When asked what that means, she replied, "Where a girl feels like a boy and a boy feels like a girl."

"Pretty good definition," said Frank.

Frank said the family decided to go public after the mass shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people at a nightclub.

"The whole Orlando thing just brought stuff into perspective for us, you know? The community faces a lot of challenges, and by sharing our story I think we can help other people with transgender children."

There are still many worries ahead as she grows up, but the family said it is prepared.

"It was hard. It was hard," said Frank. "But seeing how happy she is, getting to wear that dress she always wanted, or putting up her hair with the bow -- I mean all that worry just goes away."

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