Just over a year after Jane Marie Georgia's Christian parents allowed her to start living life as a boy named Jay Griffin, the troubled 13-year-old girl who was in therapy for depression, anxiety and identity issues killed herself inside her home in Trussville, Alabama, last Thursday.
Griffin's parents, Matt and Erin Georgia, both of whom served in the U.S. Marine Corps, are grieving and now believe in hindsight that allowing their daughter to live as a transgender boy, was just too much for their oldest child who had lived most of her life as a girl until the middle of the sixth grade.
"Jay was not ready to come out to the world in the sixth grade. Jay wasn't really ready at the end,'' Erin admitted in an interview with AL.com. "It's a very personal process, but the schools have always been very attentive."
Erin's husband Matt said it was a difficult process for their daughter who wanted to take things slow with how she engaged the public with her transgenderism.
"I had talked to Jay about that, asked him, 'Who do you want to know?' He always told me that he would tell the people he wanted to know when it came to that,'' Matt explained in the interview.
They felt like they were doing all the right things in supporting their daughter and tried their best to ensure she found "safe spaces" in which to be herself.
"We were under the care of a psychologist from day one,'' Erin said.
She explained that her daughter also attended group therapy, and met with a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Two months before her death, Erin's daughter also started taking medication.
"We would have highs and lows. Who knows if that contributed? I'm not going to run that over in my head,'' Erin said. "It definitely seemed to be an imbalance problem. We were still tweaking the medication, but it takes time."
She argues, however, that Jay was never pressured about her transgenderism.
"That was a personal thing I never bugged him about. I was concerned about loving and accepting and trying [to] understand his perspective," she told AL.com. "We've always just loved and accepted our children for whoever they are. I'm a very outspoken, tattooed Christian, very strong in my faith. We were just encouraging Jay. I would notice things as a mother and was like, 'Hey, anything you want to talk to me about, I'm here.'''
Erin, who explained that she had prayed to have a boy all her life, said she also saw her daughter's transgenderism as a gift from God. So when she and her husband found their Jay dead in her bedroom at 5 a.m. on May 25, they were genuinely shocked.
"Don't get me wrong, I mourned the loss of a daughter but then I realized that I'd been praying for a son my whole life,'' she explained. "God answered that prayer, in just a different way."
She argued, however, that her troubled daughter who described herself on Facebook as "just a dorky, salty but sweet teen Trans boy who likes to draw and stay up late," did not feel validated despite the support she received from their community.
"He didn't feel validated or accepted in our community,'' Erin said. "You really need a safe space of allies and advocates and people that are like you. That's where they hear their true voices. There are no local community safe spaces that I know of, and we've looked. That was part of Jay's struggle."
She added: "As Jay was going through this journey, he would go to church with us. The church was welcoming, but there was no safe space and that is my biggest point. Me and Jay would go to different churches to find places that were safe for us. I say us because I often feel like an outsider because I just love everybody, and that's kind of hard in a Christian Bible Belt state."
The American College of Pediatricians, a national organization of pediatricians and other healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children, warned last year that conditioning children to accept transgenderism as normal is child abuse as it is classified as a mental illness.
"No one is born with an awareness of themselves as male or female; this awareness develops over time and, like all developmental processes, may be derailed by a child's subjective perceptions, relationships, and adverse experiences from infancy forward. People who identify as 'feeling like the opposite sex' or 'somewhere in between' do not comprise a third sex. They remain biological men or biological women," the organization said.
"When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such. These children suffer from gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria, formerly listed as gender identity disorder, is a recognized mental disorder in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. The psychodynamic and social learning theories of GD/GID have never been disproved," it added.