I-Team Report: Transformational Journey - WNEM TV 5

I-Team Report: Transformational Journey

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MICHIGAN, (WNEM) -

Corey and Eric Maison seem like your typical Michigan family, but beneath the surface they share a unique bond.

The father-daughter duo were once mother and son. They are now transitioning together.

Early on, Corey knew something wasn’t quite right. She was born a boy, but said she always felt out of place in her own skin.

“I was always different. I was always girly. I wanted to do girly things. I played with dolls all the time," Corey said.

At just 11-years-old Corey concluded she had been born the wrong gender.

Although still a child, Corey courageously faced one of her ultimate fears and told her parents. It was a day she will never forget.

“I was scared to think of what they might think of me. And if they would, you know, not want to be my parent anymore or, you know, like kick me out of the house," Corey said.

Corey said her mother and father fully accepted her right away. They even approved female hormones for her 14th birthday.

Now 15, Corey said everything truly began to make sense while watching a transgender girl on TV. Jazz Jennings has a hit reality show on TLC called “I am Jazz” and she is one of the youngest girls to transition publicly.

Corey no longer felt alone.

“Her coming out to the world saying that I have a boy body, but a girl brain. That was the clicker for me. I was like 'I’m just like her, I am a girl,'" Corey said.

Outside of the transgender community, Corey said she still felt like a misfit.

At one point the bullying was so bad she had to transfer schools and even contemplated suicide.

But Corey braved through the hate. She knew deep down her story could help others.

"She was called names. She was, you know, discriminated against," Eric said.

Corey didn’t know one of the people she would help the most was the person that gave birth to her. Eric used to be Erica. He lived most of his life as a woman, married with five kids.

"And that's when I realized, I can't live this way anymore," Eric said.

A few years ago, Eric watched the movie “The Danish Girl” about the life of a transgender woman.

“This woman who lived her entire life a lie and even though in the end she died, she was able to have that small moment of peace living her truth. And that just, I mean it touched me all the way to my core," Eric said.

Also, inspired by his daughter, Eric faced his own fears to embrace who he knew he really was. But he worried what this would mean for his marriage.

“The scariest part of this whole journey for me was coming out to my husband because I didn’t think he would want to stay married anymore. And that would have been completely understandable," Eric said.

Les Maison, Eric’s husband of more than 10 years, stood by his spouse. And now that Eric is happier and more comfortable in his own skin the marriage is blossoming.

“Surprisingly, he said, 'If this makes you happy, then that makes me happy.' He said, 'I married you for the person inside. I didn’t marry you for what you looked like outside,'" Eric said.

Eric’s kids still call him mom and he said he is 100 percent OK with that. Eric believes a genetic link could be the reason behind Corey and his similar paths. He said they share a special bond and get strength from each other.

Eric recently underwent a double mastectomy and is now taking male hormones.

In a few years, Corey hopes for surgery to complete her gender reassignment.

The family said prejudice and harassment are nothing new, but it’s not slowing them down.

They’ve become transgender advocates. Corey even made a video against bullying that has gone viral.

The family hopes sharing their story will raise awareness and give hope.

“I want people to know if you don’t know what transgender means, you need to go educate yourself before you start discriminating and being rude to people. Because you don’t know what is going on in their lives,” Corey said.

To watch the video Corey made about bullying, click here

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