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Gay Killing Plea Deal: 21 Years in Prison; Girl Suspended for Touching Teacher
Aired November 22, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
A teen gets 21 years for gunning down his gay classmate in cold blood. Why does this happen and what can be done to stop it?
A teacher cries foul after what a student says was an accidental touch. Misbehavior or misunderstanding?
And, born a boy, but entering puberty as a girl. A family in transition. We`re talking about tolerance and touch.
Let`s get started.
Good evening and welcome.
A California teenager who shot and killed a gay student has agreed to spend 21 years in prison. Brandon McInerney avoided a second trial by accepting the plea deal. His first trial for shooting Larry King ended in a mistrial.
The case generated, of course, enormous controversy and have forced schools to consider how they`re dealing with the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity issues amongst their students. Watch this and we`ll talk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A shooting death of 51-year-old openly gay 8th grade student. Unbelievable.
PINSKY: Fourteen-year-old Brandon McInerney fires two bullets into the head of classmate, Lawrence King.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brandon, who turned 14 just weeks before the shooting, tried as an adult, charged with first degree murder.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brandon McInerney pleaded guilty to second degree murder charges. His first trial ended with a hung jury after jurors couldn`t decide whether to convict him of murder or manslaughter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McInerney said he was embarrassed by the crush King had on him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a perfect storm of a defendant who was abused as a child, access to guns, homophobia -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Under the plea deal, McInerney will serve all 21 years of his sentence.
PINSKY: Joining us, Attorney Lisa Bloom and author of "Think, Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumb Down World." Actually, top 10 nominee for best nonfiction of 2011. And Brandon and Larry`s teacher, Dawn Boldrin, she was in the classroom when Brandon shot Larry point blank in the head.
Dawn, do you have any thoughts about the plea deal? I know this thing has affected your life in so many ways.
DAWN BOLDRIN, MCINERNEY AND KING`S TEACHER: I was elated that it actually happened. I was told at the last minute it was supposed to be a normal proceeding yesterday. And one of the students called me and said, "No, they`re going to plea out today. Can you come down to the courtroom?"
And obviously if they were going to plea, I knew it`s something that Brandon had to agree to and they were OK with. I was elated because it`s just that we didn`t have to go through another trial.
PINSKY: So you can put this behind you.
BOLDRIN: At this point, part of this, yes, it`s over.
PINSKY: What do you mean this part of this?
BOLDRIN: Again, this whole situation I lived with, the students lived with obviously, Larry`s parents, we all live with daily.
PINSKY: The students that are in the classroom you`re talking about.
BOLDRIN: Absolutely. This is never going to be over for us. We live it. But what I wanted to do was kind of compartmentalize each thing or situation that happens with it as let`s get this done, let`s get this over with and move on so I can just keep functioning.
PINSKY: Get on with your life. And so you`ve not been able to return to teaching.
BOLDRIN: I have not been able to, no.
PINSKY: Even though it`s something you would like to do?
BOLDRIN: I would like to at some point. It`s what I went to school for. It`s what I planned to retire doing.
PINSKY: And yet this sort of workman`s comp system has got you locked in.
BOLDRIN: And it is and my union just took me down. I had no idea. I wasn`t ready for it at that point.
PINSKY: Lisa, these things have so many effects on so many people, the ripple through the all the kids in the room, Dawn`s life will never be the same, not just from the post traumatic stress, but we hear that it`s affecting her career.
Is this the end of this? He`s going to plea out, 21 years, is he going to spend 21 years in prison?
LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY: He may spend 25 years in prison because he wouldn`t get credit for time served. So I think he will serve that time.
You know, I think it`s a just outcome. But, of course, this is a losing situation for everyone.
And this is a situation that could have been prevented f our schools taught respect for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. If we had nonviolence training in our schools, if we encouraged counselors to talk to troubled kids like this defendant who came from an abused home.
Let`s talk about the issues. What concerns you? If a kid in school coming onto me, he`s gay, I am uncomfortable. If all of that have been in place, this could have been prevented.
PINSKY: Dawn, was there anything like that for these kids?
BOLDRIN: Oh, no, there wasn`t.
PINSKY: Was there - were there clouds forming? Could you see these coming?
BOLDRIN: I personally didn`t see this coming. Again, a lot of the other teachers did. I learned a lot after the fact in the trial that the administration actually did as well, and people dropped the ball continuously, and a lot of the problem, too, I learned is both parents on both sides did not teach tolerance. Larry`s parents were not teaching tolerance to Larry either, hence why he was in foster care at that time.
PINSKY: Tell me what you mean by this.
BOLDRIN: Again, tolerance - accepting everybody for their differences.
PINSKY: Hold on a second. This kid that was killed was in foster care?
BOLDRIN: Yes, he was.
PINSKY: Because his family rejected him because of his sexual orientation?
BOLDRIN: I believe so.
BOLDRIN: And I believe -
BLOOM: A 15-year-old -
PINSKY: I did not hear that part of the story. That is - that is stunningly sad. What a tragic life this kid had.
BOLDRIN: A lot of people haven`t focused on that point. A lot of people have just been quiet. That`s how a lot of this has stayed underneath everything. Nobody has spoken.
PINSKY: So, again, listen, we`re in the shadow of the Sandusky fiasco at Penn State. That`s about abuse. Magically this story is about abuse, too. You, Lisa, say the branding comes from the abusive home or something was going on -
BLOOM: Yes, yes.
PINSKY: -- that was problematic. Now we`re hearing that not only that Larry, the kid that was killed was not only abusive, it was aggressively abandoning. That`s just incredible.
BOLDRIN: I have heard awful lot of stories.
BLOOM: Because of sexual orientation. And so, you know, I constantly am writing and tweeting about this about how we have to teach children to respect gays, lesbians, transgender, bisexual. And people say, oh, you know, we all talk about that all the time. We`re sick of talking about it. No.
This is the case of what happens when we don`t -
PINSKY: Because people die. People lives are about.
BLOOM: And a boy was shot in the computer lab at middle school.
PINSKY: Speaking of Larry`s family, here is what his father had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG KING, LARRY KING`S FATHER: We`re kind of, you know, it`s a little bitter sweet. I don`t think that 21 years is really justice for cold-blooded murder. But on the other hand, we`ve been going through this for four years, and you know, at least there`s some closure coming up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: All right. No trial, no second trial as we`re hearing for Dawn, it`s a great relief. Now, is that the father that we`re saying kicked his kid out of the home, sent him to foster care?
BOLDRIN: It was more than just kicking his kid.
PINSKY: Now, Dawn, this is all new information. What are you - what are saying here? What happened?
BOLDRIN: I was not able to testify to this. When I tried to, the DA promptly stopped me, and because Larry was the minor, all these records are sealed, and -
PINSKY: What happened? What did this guy do?
BOLDRIN: I was told when I went to the administration as to why Larry was in foster care that his parents had physically abused him.
PINSKY: So he was removed from the home because of physical abuse.
BOLDRIN: Yes, he was.
PINSKY: He wasn`t like kicked out of the home in some sort of a peculiar way. There was physical abuse in the home.
BOLDRIN: And so protective services came and took him out of the home.
PINSKY: OK. And because - what you`re thinking is, you`re alleging this, we don`t know this for a fact, that he was physically abused because of his sexual orientation?
BOLDRIN: I was told specifically there was violence orientated towards Larry that was because he was the way he was.
PINSKY: Let me tell you another piece about - any of you that want to defend physical abuse of any kind, and that includes disciplining kids, is that when kids go through those kinds of experiences, they will bring violent people into their life. They are drawn into those circumstances.
I`m not suggesting Larry wasn`t in any way responsible for what happened to him, but it`s uncanny how kids that have abuse, whether sexual abuse or physical abuse, sexual abuse, women who are sexually abused become strippers and porn stars. You see they`re drawn to these things that were terrorizing in their childhood. Same thing with physical abuse, drawn into relationships and around people that will perpetrate upon them.
Lisa, do you agree?
BLOOM: Yes. And to add to that, the LGBT kids are the highest rates of hate crimes and violence against them.
PINSKY: Not that I - let`s differentiate, people that become the object of hate crimes versus people that get around it.
BLOOM: Yes, yes. Right. And so this was the perfect storm, of course, if you`ve got -
PINSKY: You got both.
BLOOM: -- one kid who is abused, right, and you`ve got a kid who`s gay at school, not being protected. The kids aren`t being educated, I mean the kid who can take a loaded gun, presumably his parents` loaded gun and bring it to school, you know, where is the accountability for the parents here?
PINSKY: Where is that?
Now the state originally proposed a longer sentence of 25 years, I guess that`s still actually what`s he`s going to be served. And, by the way, Lisa, how do we know he`s not going to walk in - I mean, I don`t trust the prison system anymore. We hear about people going in one door and out the other and those allegedly violent offenders aren`t being dealt with so easily.
BLOOM: So that does sometimes happen. You know, California is pretty tough to get parole, is all I can say.
PINSKY: All right.
BLOOM: But parole is important because it gives them motivation to have good behavior behind bars. And this is a young man, let`s hope that he changes in prison. He`s got 21 years to do that.
PINSKY: He`s -- how old now? 17? 18?
BOLDRIN: Right (ph).
PINSKY: 17? He`s 18 now. So he`s going to be in an adult -
BOLDRIN: Eighteen in January.
PINSKY: He will be in the adult population.
All right, the prosecutor, though, seemed satisfied with the outcome. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE FRAWLEY, VENTURE CO. ASSISTANT DA: This gives us a full 25 years in custody. We protected the community, and it`s also - takes into account what we learned from the first jury.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: What did they learn from that first jury? What is he talking about?
BOLDRIN: I think - I think they learned exactly what I`ve been trying to say all along, this was a complicated situation. The adults, administration, everybody needed to be held responsible and culpable for the situations with both boys.
BLOOM: The jury had some sympathy for the defendant.
PINSKY: Dawn had sympathy for Brandon, too. I mean, the last time she was in here. Tell us more about that how you feel about this now in retrospect.
BOLDRIN: All my students, I think it`s a teacher`s thing. When they`re in your class, you feel responsible for them, and I only had Brandon two weeks. I never even had the opportunity to help them at that point. But here I was, I didn`t know his background. If I would have went to his father to report misbehavior, I was actually sending him to a worse situation than if I was protecting him.
So when I went, walked in there and I saw him, my heart just melted. I wanted to just grab him and take him home.
PINSKY: After he committed the crime.
BOLDRIN: After he committed the crime, and I have had - I`ve been able to communicate with the students who have been able to communicate with Brandon throughout this whole thing, and trust me, Brandon is remorseful. He didn`t - he feels awful for the pain that he has caused so many people.
BLOOM: He was a child. I have to emphasize that. As much as I hate what he did, he was a child.
PINSKY: Yes. You guys, this is -
BLOOM: He wasn`t helped by the adults around him.
PINSKY: This is what I would say about our legal system. It tries to make things black and white, good and bad. And it`s always when we talk - like human beings, it`s much messier.
And, Dawn, I didn`t fully appreciate how messy it was the last time you were in here. I got it that you saw it was messy, but thanks for coming in today and sort of showing us, really, more clearly how unclear the situation was.
And Lisa, as always, I`m going to keep you around.
The allegations of abuse, of course, what we`re discussing tonight are just that - they`re allegations. We have no independent confirmation of what Dawn is telling us is, in fact, fact.
But coming up, a girl is suspended for 180 days for allegedly touching her teacher`s inner thigh. But the 7th grader says it was all an accident. She and her mother are fighting for her education. They will join me next.
PINSKY: Tonight, inappropriate touching or just an accident? A Detroit area 7th grader swears she was only stretching when her hand accidentally touched her teacher`s thigh. Now, as a result, she`s been suspended for 180 days, and her mom is furious.
Other students at Madison Heights Middle School have written letters saying the touching was accidental, but the teacher insists this was no accident. The teacher says this wasn`t just a graze. She claims Je`Terra Bowie poked her, quote, "deep in the inner thigh."
Je`Terra says she had no idea her teacher`s even behind her. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JE`TERRA BOWIE, SUSPENDED FOR INAPPROPRIATELY TOUCHING HER TEACHER: I didn`t know she stopped behind me, and she - she stopped and then, like, I stretched back and I was like this. And then, I turned around, I said, sorry, like I didn`t mean to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: The teacher admits that the touch was not sexual, but says it was meant to be disrespectful.
So how do we deal with all this? Who`s telling the truth? Of course, we want to protect our teachers, but are we being too sensitive here? Let`s try to get to the bottom of this.
Attorney Lisa Bloom is back, and I have Je`Terra Bowie, and her mom, Jessica Hunter. They join me now. Jessica, you`re - you`re pissed. Tell us about this.
JESSICA HUNTER, MOM FIGHTING DAUGHTER`S SUSPENSION: Yes, I`m highly pissed because, first of all, it should have been handled at school level. It shouldn`t even went that far. How did he even come up with a 180-day suspension? How did he make that recommendation?
PINSKY: Well, Lisa, that`s what, you know, I`ve - we`re wondering about. A hundred and eighty days seems extraordinary.
BLOOM: It seems really harsh to me, and I don`t know if it was an accident or it was intentionally. But let`s assume the worst, for the moment, that it was not intentionally that she poked her teacher`s inner thigh intentionally. I take it -
PINSKY: Like even in - even in a threatening way.
BLOOM: This is a 7th grade girl.
BLOOM: To take her out of education for six months seems awfully harsh. You know, yes, if she did it intentionally, there should be a punishment, there should be consequences, OK? But six months is way too much. Take her out for a week, have her do some counseling, have her do some community service.
I mean, this is -
PINSKY: Well, this is - this is -
BLOOM: -- too much.
PINSKY: This is another thing that concerns me, is that so many times schools see behavior issues as just that, disciplinary issues, rather than - and I`m not sure what`s going on in this case. We`re going to get into it a little bit.
But, so often, behavior issues are because kids are in trouble. They need help. They need treatment. They need intervention.
BLOOM: That`s right.
PINSKY: We just heard about a kid that killed somebody because nobody paid attention to this.
BLOOM: Well, that`s right. And also, based on the video that we just saw, that she was leaning back in her chair, it seems awfully unlikely that it was intentional. I mean, she`d have to be a gymnast to lean back like that and intentionally strike her teacher.
PINSKY: So, Je`Terra, we - we`re confused about all of this. Help us understand what happened, and why you think the teacher took off after you like this?
BOWIE: Like, I don`t know. I - she just - I stretched back, and she just tell me to get the hell out of the class, and - I don`t know.
PINSKY: Was that some sort of last straw for her? Were you and the teacher already engaged in some kind of conflict, or was the classroom difficult for her to control at that time?
BOWIE: I don`t remember.
HUNTER: Even if it was, she didn`t have to go off on Je`Terra like that. They didn`t have any prior incidents, and, if they did, I didn`t know anything about it. I was never informed.
I - I`ve been working at that school. I did volunteer work at that school last year. They know me very well. My communication is always open. She could have called me if she had a problem with my daughter. She never did.
And we`re not here to discuss whether or not it was a behavior problem. We`re here to see if she falsely accused my daughter of touching her, which I know that she did.
BLOOM: Well, I guess the question, Je`Terra, is -
HUNTER: And just -
BLOOM: -- is there any history? Did you a problem with this teacher in the past? Did you get in trouble with this teacher before?
PINSKY: Not at all? You guys have no - you weren`t engaged in any kind of conflict, you and that teacher?
HUNTER: I didn`t - I didn`t even -
PINSKY: And, by the way, I -
HUNTER: Excuse me.
HUNTER: Excuse me, but I didn`t even know the teacher. This is her first year teaching at the school. I didn`t even know her. She never showed up to any of the meetings that I had concerning my daughter.
So, if someone inappropriately touched you, wouldn`t you be there to make sure that they get the punishment that they need?
PINSKY: Well, Jessica, how do we make sense of this? I - it kind of doesn`t pass the sniff test, on some level. There`s - there`s something missing here.
HUNTER: Maybe - maybe she needs to be under oath. Maybe she needs to be under oath. Why - why would she do that? I don`t know. There`s a lot of unanswered questions.
I don`t know, but I need to know, because I`m not going to stop, and she`s not going to go back to school.
PINSKY: But let me ask an indelicate question. Sometimes when people have been violated in some way, whether it was the teacher or - or, you know, or Je`Terra, you know, somebody in the equation had a history of physical abuse, sexual abuse, something. We`ve been talking an awful lot about that in the last few days. Sometimes they can misconstrue -
HUNTER: OK, well I know for sure my daughter never - my daughter never had any type of sexual abuse going on.
PINSKY: OK. All right. Excellent.
HUNTER: Whether the teacher did, I don`t know. You have to ask her.
PINSKY: OK, that -that`s my question, because sometimes people can misinterpret what`s happened to them, or what they`re doing, or, you know, cues get missed. I just wonder if somebody in here, you know, needs to - you know, I would look into that, Jessica, for the teacher. Let`s put it that way.
I`m not - no - nothing meant towards the teacher, but except this -
HUNTER: Yes, you probably should.
PINSKY: Yes, that - that she may have misinterpreted something. There`s something - something missing, it seems like, in this story, and we`ll - and we`ll be interested to hear - hear more about it.
Thank you for joining us. We actually asked the Wilkinson Middle School -
PINSKY: -- in Detroit for a comment. They have not returned our phone calls.
Next, we`ve already received some tough questions and comments about this story. We`re going to get into them in the "On Call" segment.
And then, your preteen years are hard enough. What if you had to make a choice between being a man or a woman at that delicate, fragile time in your life? It`s a fascinating story. Stay with us.
PINSKY: Well, our last story has prompted many of you to ask questions about inappropriate touch and childhood abuse. It`s a topic that many have a tough time talking about, and, you know, particularly the people closest to you.
So let`s get right to your questions. I got Stacy in Ohio. What`s on your mind?
STACY, CLEVELAND, OHIO: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Stacy.
STACY: I was just wondering, is there a good way to bring up or talk to your children about inappropriate touching in a way that`s suitable for them?
PINSKY: Well, I`ll tell you what. Two things. One is, your desire to bring it up is really more important than anything else. And the - the trick is, with kids, is to ask open ended questions that bring up dialogue. It`s not to dump your anxieties on them about don`t let anybody do that.
It`s about saying, you know, have you ever thought about this? Or do you ever get uncomfortable on people? Or - but just open ended stuff, and then get that dialogue going.
Also, there are a lot of good books out there, if you`re on the children`s section of the bookstore, that actually address this issue explicitly, or specifically, anyway.
Deanna on Facebook writes, "I`ve been suspecting that my daughter has been inappropriately touched by one of her friends that lives close by. Do you think I should confront this individual myself?"
Wow, that is some - that is some tough stuff. I mean, the first order of business is to protect your child, so do not allow this child around that person if you have any suspicion of anything like that.
Secondly, again, your concern is that child`s well-being. I would get the child evaluated by a third party, give her an opportunity to sort of express what might have happened to her. Intervention is the key.
If nothing else, I`ve said over and over again in this program, we don`t have to have the Sandusky situation if people get help early. They don`t have all the long term consequences, including being a perpetrator, if they get help early. So get her some help, even if there`s a suspicion.
Rachelle writes, "I had a man touch me when I was 11 years old, but he told me that I had to promise to keep it a secret, so I did. I wish I had the courage to say something sooner because I feel affected to this day by what I know was abuse."
Well, my dear, I mean, that is the big issue, which is that most people or victims of abuse feel responsible for it, they feel ashamed and guilty, they identify with the perpetrator, which is again sort of how they manage the overwhelming feelings associated with it, and they keep quiet.
Don`t keep quiet. At least get yourself some help and tell another human being about this. What we`re doing in recovery all the time, tell somebody.
Catherine writes, "Regarding the student who touched the teacher - I find it a little hard to believe that the teacher would go to all that trouble to kick a kid out of her class. There is more to this than someone is admitting."
I - yes, I agree with you, and that`s kind of what I was getting at with the mom. And the - the girl seemed so lovely and wonderful, it`s hard to believe that it`s on her end. Maybe it is. I mean, I`m always surprised by people. But I`m wondering about that teacher. I mean, was something going in the classroom or something going on inside of that teacher that really made her overreact or react so powerfully?
Mary tweets, "Any thoughts as to why children feel so afraid to tell someone an individual has touched them in a wrong way?"
I think I just addressed that by talking about how they feel ashamed, they feel guilty, they feel responsible. They feel like they`re the ones that caused them to be the victims. This is - this is the conundrum of - of people have been a victim.
It`s normal for an eight year old or six or eight, 10 year old child to feel grandiose, so they make things happen to them. The problem is when people do get victimized, they get stuck in that grandiosity, and they start believing that they made bad things happen to them and they better keep quiet.
Now, my question to you is, would you accept it if your little boy insisted he were a little girl? Next, I`m talking to a family that did accept just that, but how did they help their child make the transition, or how will they make the transition into puberty?
Complicated topic. We`re going to get into it in detail, back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): We`re talking about attitudes and tolerance. Why we see others as we do and how to better manage any conflicts they create? Coming up, this little girl was born a boy. Her loving parents embrace her chosen gender, but what happens as Mother Nature steps in and hormones begin to rage?
She now embarks on womanhood with the help of modern medicine. What are the physical and emotional risks? What does this tell us about transgender children and gender identity?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): Very challenging stuff. Now, puberty is already a time in life marked by physical, emotional, hormonal, even social changes in the best of circumstances, the transition is difficult, not just for kids but for parents. But, imagine if you had to choose between being let`s say male -- I guess, we say man or a woman. That`s what 11-year-old Jazz and her parents are facing.
Jazz has lived as a girl for most of her young life, and with the onset of puberty, new challenges and choices. She`s confident about who she is and who she wants to be. Jazz and her family share their story on "I Am Jazz: A Family In Transition," this Sunday on the OWN Network. Take a look.
JAZZ, 11-YEAR-OLD TRANSGENDER GIRL: This was a picture of me when I was younger, living as a boy. And that`s what I looked like. The last year of preschool, first grade.
I thought that I was made wrong. But now, I know there`s nothing wrong with me. I love myself.
JEANNETTE, JAZZ`S MOTHER: How many families have a little girl that was born a boy? I mean, to me, it`s natural. I love that I see a little girl, but you know, to the rest of the world, this is something they`ve never heard of. They`ve never seen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jazz explains it the best. She says, I have a girl brain and a boy body, and I`m just like you.
PINSKY: Interesting. Jazz joins us now with her mom, Jeannette. Also with me, Dr. Johanna Olson, an adolescent medicine physician specializing in transgender youth here at Children`s Hospital Los Angeles.
Jazz, how old were you when you first realized that you were a girl?
JAZZ: Ever since I could express myself, I always knew that I was a girl, and I always referred to myself as a girl. And, I played with girl things. It was just who I was inside.
PINSKY: And mom, did you go with that from the beginning or were you resistant or trying to redirect?
JEANNETTE: I went with it. She was such a lovely baby, so happy. And if she said she wanted to play with something girly, I didn`t have a problem with that. As she entered the twos, though, she would say to me, mommy, I`m a girl, there`s a mistake. I`d say good boy, she`d say, no, good girl. And I just didn`t want her to feel bad about herself. So, I`m like, OK, whatever.
You know, you`re a girl, fine. I thought it would pass, but as months went by, I realized this was getting stronger, and actually, I had a DSM-IV at home, and looked in it, and there is a diagnosis for gender identity disorder in children, and she hit five out of the five markers for it. So, by age three, I had a pretty good idea.
PINSKY: What you`re dealing with. Did that prompt you then to seek medical help or you just rolled with it further?
JEANNETTE: Right, yes, at that time. I went and sought medical help at that time. Actually, the pediatrician around two and a half, three said you know what, I think you have a problem, you might want to seek a specialist, and I did. And they confirmed what I had diagnosed at home.
And at that time, you know, we were devastated, you know, you don`t want to hear your child has any disorder, but since then, we`ve been trying to make the best of it and just support her and let her guide us.
PINSKY: Johanna, Dr. Olson, you deal with this all the time.
DR. JOHANNA OLSON, ADOLESCENT MEDICINE, CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL LA: Yes.
PINSKY: And so, this is not uncommon story for you to hear what we`re calling gender identity disorder of childhood.
OLSON: That`s correct.
PINSKY: OK. But there`s confusing and conflicted language all around this disorder, isn`t there?
OLSON: Yes, there is.
PINSKY: We call it a disorder. It`s something that people argue about it. Tell me where the medical community is now about this?
OLSON: I think the medical community is all over the place.
OLSON: I think it`s really difficult. It`s not something you`re taught about in medical school. It`s not something you`re taught about --
PINSKY: By the way, not taught about it in medical school. Exactly right. I don`t think anyone`s taught about it. Really, specifically, you hear about a little bit in adults but you don`t hear about it in children.
OLSON: That`s correct. And I think just the idea that people are transitioning or social transitioning, which is changing your hair, your clothes, maybe your name, and maybe your pronounce in childhood is a really rare and new phenomenon.
PINSKY: Good, bad?
OLSON: It depends who you ask. I personally think there are children who are suffering so much and have so much social dysfunction that they drive a social transition themselves.
PINSKY: And so, should Jazz be encouraged to continue the way she`s doing it? Is this a healthy way to approach this problem? Again, I choke on the word problem, a disorder, because the kid doesn`t seem to be suffering, right?
OLSON: That`s correct.
PINSKY: Doesn`t there need to be some suffering associated with a disorder, right?
OLSON: I think that`s why people get disturbed that it`s in the DSM at all. It`s called a disorder, but it really is around the dysphoria that exists when you are forced to live in a role that doesn`t match your internal identity.
PINSKY: Mom, is this your understanding of how things work now, because again, I`ve heard you use some terminology there, you seem very familiar with. Has the medical community helped you in this regard?
JEANETTE: I`ve been very fortunate. I landed in the hands of wonderful professionals. In fact, we were talking about medical school earlier, and our therapist actually teaches undergrad, graduate, and medical students, and Jazz and I have gone to speak to the medical students. So, in our area, there is some talk about it, and they`re hearing about it, and they didn`t know. And we teach them and they ask us questions. So --
PINSKY: As great as that is, I bet it is. Sorry to interrupt you, but I bet it`s a small group of clinical -- four students in a clinical rotation where the attending happens to be interested in this. So, out of tens of thousands of medical students, three or four are exposed to this, but it`s good, better than that, right?
Now, as Jazz enters puberty, medical science, of course, will be the key to this journey. Here`s another clip from "I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition" airing this Sunday on the OWN Network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, the exam basically shows that she`s in puberty, and she`s at a tanner stage two. You`re not going to see a lot of the physical changes until six months to a year from now, but we have the option of either allowing those changes to happen and see if there`s any changes, as far as does she want to pursue that or not, or we can decide we don`t want to have it happen and we can stop it with some of the treatments that we talked last year.
Probably within the next six months, you have to make the decision of to stop it or if you want to let it go a little bit longer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: So, Dr. Olson, in order to complete this transition, there`s a lot of biological interventions are going to have to be made. Can you take us going forward what Jazz may be looking at?
OLSON: So, I think with someone as young as Jazz who`s just starting puberty, what we would do for her is suppress her puberty. So, we would want her to --
PINSKY: Suppress her testosterone part of the puberty.
OLSON: That`s correct.
PINSKY: So, suppress her testes?
OLSON: That`s right.
OLSON: We don`t want her to develop any male secondary sexual characteristics.
PINSKY: Would you supplement her with estrogens and female hormones?
OLSON: Not right now.
PINSKY: At what point would you do that?
OLSON: It`s an interesting question. It doesn`t have a great answer. There are recommendations, but those recommendations come from very, very limited research and very limited studies.
PINSKY: Is there a risk to do that?
OLSON: There are risks to any medications.
OLSON: Certainly, we talk about risks with patients, but in cases like this, it`s really important that actually these medications are relatively safe, especially when you compare to the lifetime that people will have if they don`t do a hormonal transition.
PINSKY: OK. Fair enough. Jazz, what are you planning to do?
JAZZ: I hope I take hormones, because I really don`t want to face male puberty, because ever since I was very young, I`ve had nightmares about growing beards and mustaches. So, I`m hoping I don`t have to face, you know, puberty.
PINSKY: And how do you feel about this whole process now that you are entering, you`re moving towards puberty? Still feel as comfortable with things as you always seem to have?
JAZZ: I`m definitely not as comfortable, but I think I`ll be able to get through it. And, I`ll just be able to be a normal girl.
PINSKY: Other than your sort of the phobias about growing facial hair and what not, what are your fears going forward?
JAZZ: Mostly scared about getting a deep voice and things like that.
PINSKY: So, it`s really your fears are not so much about being accepted by your peers or how the whole adolescence, the whole baby thing has to come in here. Go ahead.
JAZZ: Yes. I`m scared that if I do go through male puberty, that some people will not understand, like some of my friends will be like why are you starting to grow hair and stuff, and I think I might lose friendships, and I really don`t want that to happen.
PINSKY: So, do most of your friends now just think you`re a girl like all the other girls?
JAZZ: Well, actually some of my friends, they already know and they`re very accepting. But others that might not know, if they do find out, and I`m not sure what`s going to happen. Like I just hope I don`t lose any friends.
PINSKY: Coming up, more of Jazz`s fascinating story and a visit from a family we`ve met before on this show. Their journey is similar but different in a few key aspects. I`ll explain when we come back.
PINSKY: I am back with Jazz and her mother, Jeanette. Jazz is 11 years old, facing not only the transition of puberty but the additional challenge of entering teen years as a transgender girl. Also joining me are Cheryl and Dean Kilodavis. Their six-year-old child, Dyson, identifies as a boy, but he loves girls` clothing and activities and he calls himself princess boy.
Now, while Jazz and situation may look similar, they`re very different. They both express themselves as female, but Jazz identifies as girl, Dyson as boy. Here`s a clip from "I`m Jazz: A Family In Transition" airing this Sunday at 9:00 eastern on the OWN Network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAZZ: Girl to me is better than boy because I want to be a girl. That`s who I want to be. It`s who I am inside and out pretty much. And I`m happy as a girl. I`m a girl because that`s who I want to be and that`s who I am, and I feel better when I`m a girl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: So, Jeanette, the message here is acceptance. Help us understand how Jazz differs from Dyson as far as gender and gender roles go?
JEANETTE: Well, it`s exactly what you said, Dr. Drew. It`s about gender expression. And Dyson never says I am a boy, he says I`m a boy that likes to do girl things. I`m a princess boy. Jazz, from the moment she could speak was claiming that she was a girl and her identity is girl. She identifies as that. She wants to look like a girl. Dyson is fine looking like a boy, and there`s a big difference there.
PINSKY: Jazz, let me ask you, does all this attention -- I mean, you`re such a courageous young woman. First, I want to stand up and applaud you for --
JAZZ: Thank you.
PINSKY: For having the courage. I mean, we`re hearing a lot about courageous young people today. This is unrelated, but I`m thinking about the young men that stepped up in the Sandusky case, and now, you`re standing up, and you know, and helping us understand a struggle with these issues. Does it bother you getting all of this attention around this?
JAZZ: No, it doesn`t bother me at all. It`s kind of fun. I like -- it`s fun to get attention. I`m that kind of person that likes attention actually.
PINSKY: All right. So, you`re not troubled by this in any way?
JAZZ: Oh, no, not at all. I really just want to share my voice out there and let people understand what it is to be transgender, and I want -- I don`t want them to judge me when they don`t even know, like, what it is to be transgender. So, I`m just trying to get my voice out there and let them know.
JEANETTE: She wants to help others.
JAZZ: Yes. And also I want --
PINSKY: OK. Go ahead.
JAZZ: I wanted to help other transgender people step out of their shadows and just be who they are and just be themselves.
PINSKY: Cheryl, how do you explain Dyson`s gender expression as opposed to transgender identity?
CHERYL KILODAVIS, ALLOWS SIX-YEAR-OLD SON TO WEAR GIRLS` CLOTHING: Well, it`s exactly what you said, Dr. Drew. Gender expression and gender identity are different. And, Dyson is really in a gender expression, but there is a common thread with all of these children and all these families in that we are asking for acceptance. That`s what Jazz`s family as courageous as they are for stepping up as well as ours and millions of others out there.
People are just accepting for acceptance. And tools like the documentary, like our book and like apps, things that people can actually talk that are anti-bullying tools and positive affirmations can help us get to a place where these children can be who they really are.
PINSKY: Dean, I`m flashing on the last time you were on our program, you made a very emotional testimonial on behalf of your son. And let me follow up with that and say that, you know, tonight we`re reporting on a story about a young male that was gunned down by his peers. I mean, that`s how awful these prejudices become. What do you want the world to know about your son and the world he`s entering?
DEAN KILODAVIS, ALLOWS SIX-YEAR-OLD SON TO WEAR GIRLS` CLOTHING: Well, I think that I want people to know that he is just like any other person here. We`re talking about a person, not outside shell of expression of clothing, you know? And I think it`s great like the father here in this situation like myself who`s being supportive and loving for his family, being strong for his family in a way that is different, you know?
And I think that there`s many more dads out there like that, but the world needs to get behind that support and stand up for these dads who are trying to be supportive and strong for their families, and the book and other tools like it and the apps and things that are coming out will help make that happen, but we have to stand behind people standing behind their family. It`s the right thing to do.
PINSKY: Jeanette, let me go to you, then. I know you must have some fears about the world Jazz is going into. I mean, as I said, we`ve heard about violence tonight against kids that are different. What do we do with this? And I hear very awful things being said about kids that are different, shrouded in the veil of religiosity and scriptures. Jeanette, what do you do with that?
JEANETTE: Well, I think education is the key. I think to get youth talking about it and opening up about it in the schools could really help. You know, they say, you know, ignorance can be really hurtful. And, I think, you know, if you talk about it, communication is so important, and you really need to keep the lines of communication open.
And if somebody is friends with Jazz, and one of her little friends, you know, says I love her. I don`t care that she used to be a boy, they can tell their family and they tell their friends, and hopefully, the message will get through. It`s going to take a long time, but I think we`re making some progress.
PINSKY: Well, Jazz, let me go to you, because you`re going to be the one that carries these messages forward. I don`t know if you have been exposed to this yet, but people say nasty stuff. And they shrouded in scripture and various attitudes that they feel are justified. What do you want them to know? What do you tell them?
JAZZ: I want them, honestly, I just want them to be transgender for a day. I want them to feel like they`re trapped in the wrong body, and I want them to know that if they were transgender, they`d want to switch to who they really are inside and they shouldn`t be judging me right away, because they don`t know what it feels like to try to be yourself and to get to that point.
PINSKY: Well, Jazz, again, I want to applaud you for being such a courageous young lady and elevating this conversation. Jeanette, thank you for sharing her with us.
JEANETTE: Thanks again.
PINSKY: We will look forward to that program. And Dean and Cheryl, as always, hats off to you. Thank you so much for joining us. Please say hello to Dyson for me. He sent me a lovely picture through one of our bookers. He`s the greatest.
More of Jazz`s amazing journey. Thank you for that. Now, I received a lot of call it fiery feedback on the story about the UC Davis pepper spray incident. I want to get at your objections and my response straight ahead.
PINSKY: I have been talking with 11-year-old Jazz and her mother, Jeannette. Jazz was born a boy, raised a girl, now faces puberty, and preparing to become a woman. Jazz, you`ve been so lovely to talk to. I just want to talk about your life in general. What are you watching on TV these days?
JAZZ: Just like the normal stuff kids watch, and sometimes, reality shows with my mom.
PINSKY: Which reality shows do you like?
PINSKY: You like "Celebrity Rehab." I appreciate that. I`m sure it`s not the only reality show you watch. So, what else are you watching?
JAZZ: Sometimes like --
JEANETTE: "Amazing Race," "Survivor."
JAZZ: Yes, those things. Yes.
JEANETTE: "Jersey Shore" sometimes maybe.
PINSKY: "Jersey Shore." My goodness. I just wanted -- my kids watch that stuff, too. But I just wanted to be sure people get a sense that, you know, we`re focusing in on these gender issues with you, but you`re out there living the life of an 11-year-old and trying to get on the world like any other 11-year-old. And again, I do appreciate you spending little time with us.
JEANETTE: She`s just ordinary, really.
PINSKY: You`re ordinary in an extraordinary way, and that`s kind of what I wanted to point out.
JEANETTE: Exactly. Exactly.
JEANETTE: That`s what we say.
JAZZ: That was like perfect.
PINSKY: All right.
JEANETTE: Perfect, thank you.
PINSKY: Thank you, guys.
Now, a few words or perhaps more than a few words tonight before we go. The pepper spray thing we did yesterday. Now, you guys had a quite intense response to my take on events at the UC Davis occupy where the kids were hit with pepper spray. And I want to be very clear about what I was talking about there.
What the police did, not OK in my book. Unconscionable that people were pepper sprayed, and then, particularly, I`m particularly angry with the fact they did not receive proper treatment immediately after they were blasted with chemicals. OK? So, I`m in no way saying that this is an OK thing that happened.
However, I was challenging the student, with whom I`m very sympathetic. I`m sympathetic with the frustrations. Kids in college today is best, the brightest -- this is an amazing generation, by the way, but they even look forward to get a job. I mean, they`re wondering what the world is they`re going into. I get that they are frustrated and angry about a lot of things.
But what I was questioning about, and this is what I want to focus on tonight, is the case of legitimate civil disobedience. I don`t think this conversation has been had enough. We only need to think about this. I sympathized, and I`m looking for a clear cut objective that I can support on these kids` behalf, but I was confused.
For instance, I was surprised that the students seemed upset that there were consequences for their actions. It was unclear to me whether or not they build their case on a legitimate case for civil disobedience. Let`s look civil disobedience. I don`t mean to bore anybody, but I think it`s an important point. Here it is.
Civil disobedience is a symbolic nonviolent violation of the law, violation of law, done deliberately in protest against some form of perceived injustice. Again, it must be questioning legitimacy of the government, because of injustice. Mere dissent, protest or disobedience of the law does not qualify. The act must be nonviolent, open, visible, illegal, and performed for the moral purpose of protesting an injustice.
Again, taking issue with the legitimacy of government, because of injustice done with the expectation of being punished. There`s an expectation of being punished. Protesters seem surprised they`re punished. I understand that. I was unclear what the injustice was that would make the civil disobedience legitimate.
So, identify with your frustration. I fully respect your desire to take action, but help me understand and let`s keep this dialogue going so we can get behind your movement.
Thank you for watching. We`ll see you next time.