Newspaper Reporter Goes Deep for Series on Transgender Teen

Casey Parks is banking high praise for her intimate examination of a complex issue

Part 1 of The Oregonian’s “About a Boy,” which ran in print in Sunday’s paper, telescopes back to Jay at age 13, then still a girl. Part 2, online now and in print Wednesday, catches up with him at age 15. And in the final Part 3, scheduled for next Sunday’s editions, readers will learn about his current life at age 17.

The series is the byproduct of some very extensive work by LGBT and race issues reporter Casey Parks. From the paper’s note about how the series was reported:

Parks met Jay and his mom in January 2015, soon after his first testosterone shot. In the years since, Parks has spent hundreds of hours with Jay, his family and friends. She accompanied him to doctor’s appointments and visited his school. She went with him to apply for his driver’s permit and was in the operating room the day he had his breasts removed.

To recreate the scenes she did not witness, Parks interviewed Jay’s family, friends and doctors. With his permission, Parks reviewed Jay’s medical and mental health records. She read e-mails and text messages his mother sent to his school counselor. Where possible, she referenced photographs and videos of events that happened before she met Jay.

At The T-Clinic, where Jay receives treatment, Parks interviewed everyone from the nurse who gave Jay shots to the Pacific University graduate students who shadow the psychologists who evaluated patients. To compare Portland’s care, Parks also interviewed other doctors and surgeons across the country, including some who helped write the earliest guidelines for treating transgender children.

The series does not use Jay’s last name or identify by name the high school he attends. An in the midst of this, a reminder of the challenges in Oregon and elsewhere for individuals like the series subject. As tweeted by Parks, an 18-year-old local transgender woman, Aldi Staub, took her life this week.

Previously on Fishbowl:
Michael Palin Chats With a Transgender Trailblazer
Thai Magazine Showcases ‘Gentle Trans Men’
Transgender Athlete Covers Women’s Running ‘Body Issue’