The Washington Post
by Sara Solovitch
January 21, 2018
The California wildfires were still raging last fall as Jennifer Bilstein and her 15-year-old son inched their way down Highway 101, a two-hour drive in ordinary times that took four hours through the smoke-filled air and yellow sky. She was determined to get Jacob to his doctor’s appointment on time.
It was his second visit to the adolescent gender clinic, where Jacob — a shy boy with pink cheeks, a cowlick and black oversize glasses — was being medically evaluated to begin taking testosterone.
He had already gone through puberty as a girl, an experience that made him conclude he had been born into the wrong gender. “I was always uncomfortable calling myself ‘she’ or ‘her,’ ” he explained. “It made my skin crawl.”
At 13, Jacob — then called Samantha — had informed his mother, sending her the news in a Facebook message after being dropped off at school one morning in Ukiah, one of Northern California’s iconic hippie towns.
Now, the two sat in an examination room at the University of California at San Francisco, or UCSF, as Jennifer Bilstein signed her name to a seemingly endless succession of medical forms. Bilstein acknowledged that she initially had trouble accepting the news.