Hunter Keith of Farmington Hills in January 2017 issue of National Geographic Magazine

Local Transgender Teen Published in National Geographic Magazine

BY KATE OPALEWSKI

When Hunter Keith was finally able to skateboard in the neighborhood skate park with his shirt off for the first time, he said it was "freeing." Keith of Farmington Hills was 10 days postoperative female-to-male chest reconstruction surgery - also known as "top surgery" - in the summer of 2016 when he said, "It hit me. I could do that now. I was always watching videos of guys skating with no shirts on. Now I can do it."

This special moment was photographed by Lynn Johnson from National Geographic and appeared in the January 2017 issue of the magazine, titled "Gender Revolution." It was published as a part of the article "How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender," by Robin Marantz Henig, which navigates the shifting landscape that is gender identity.

"It really was dumb luck," said Hunter's mom, Roz Keith, about how this powerful photo came to be. She is also the president and board of directors of Stand with Trans. While hosting a potluck picnic for transgender youth and their families, the Keith's were approached by a photo journalist from National Geographic who was there to interview another local family.

Hunter, 17, said he tries to be as visible as he can be, and realizes "not everyone will accept you for who you are. It's something you have to live with and accept yourself. It's about being okay with who you are."

Since coming out as transgender to his parents in 2013, Hunter didn't have to look far for support. He has been embraced within his community by his family, his friends, at his school, and his employer.

This type of acceptance has allowed the Keith's to engage other families in similar situations that need access to resources and people they can talk to.

"So they know they aren't alone. It's really cool talking with and having conversations with other trans people who need advice," said Hunter, who is also a longtime participant in Keshet's LGBTQ and Ally Teen Shabbaton. Keshet is a national organization that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life.

When it comes to being visible or maintaining privacy, Roz encourages parents to take their transgender child's lead.

"Respect what your child wants, and while it's not an automatic step-by-step process, the most important thing is to love your child unconditionally. This has shaped our family. I wouldn't change a thing."

For more information about Stand with Trans, visit http://standwithtrans.org/.
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