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Jon Ralston: 'One Thing That Hasn't Changed Is My Love For My Kid'


Longtime Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston published an essay this week called The Child I Love that shares the intimate story of raising his transgender son. Born as Maddy two decades ago, Ralston's child is transitioning from female to male and now goes by Jake. 

Our News Director Michelle Billman spoke with Ralston about the story, which appeared in his regular Ralston Reports column in the Reno Gazette-Journal, to learn what the response has been like so far.

Looking back, Ralston says his daughter Maddy was always a tomboy. He figured it was just a phase, that she would grow out of it, but he gradually realized that being male, being Jake, is who his child really is.

"While we've gone through a lot, while she has become a he, the one thing that hasn't changed is my love for my kid," Ralston says.

Even as a supportive parent, Ralston knows that growing up transgender isn't easy. For years, he's been concerned, and furious, about the extensive bullying his child has endured.

"I worried about that; it's tough for these kids. They get a lot of bullying, a lot of abuse, and, you know, life is tough enough without having to be in the world as a transgender person."

In our interview, Ralston shares some of the overwhelmingly positive responses he's received to the story so far. He also gives insight into the balancing act of covering state political issues, including proposed transgender bathroom legislation, as both a reporter and the father of a transgender kid.

Ralston has been reporting on Nevada politics for more than three decades. Along with contributing to the Reno Gazette-Journal, he also hosts Ralston Live on KNPB.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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