Chris López always knew there was something a little different about her youngest child, Gabe. Although assigned female at birth, Gabe, 9, always knew he was a boy.
Things really changed for Gabe when when he spent a weekend at a camp for transgender kids when he was 8 years-old.
"I met three best friends — Luke, Brock and Cooper," Gabe says. "They were all transgender like me, so they all wanted to be boys. That's why I say we're bros. We know each other."
Even though Gabe found friends like him, he does have questions, and concerns, about growing up transgender.
"I've been wondering if when I'm older, a lot of people will try to hurt me or something," he says.
His mom, Chris, asks Gabe if he was ever worried about telling her that he was transgender.
He says he was, and that he wanted to try and tell her, but changed his mind about four times before he told her.
"I was worried that you liked me as a girl," he says. Gabe says the two used to have a lot of fun — and that they still have fun today.
"So it doesn't matter if you're a boy or a girl, right?" Chris asks.
Gabe started the conversation about being transgender with Chris, but she wishes she had initiated it.
"I didn't know that you were dealing with that on your own," she says. "If I'd known, I would have tried a little bit harder to have that conversation with you, and maybe start it myself."
Even though Gabe has his "bros," Chris says she still worries for her son's future.
"I worry about how other people might treat you," she says. "It makes me upset to think about what you might have to go through."
Neither knows what the future will hold for Gabe, but Chris is sure of one thing: "You amaze me every day," she says.
"And you can tell me anything, anytime, anywhere, and it won't change how much I love you. I'll always have your back.
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Von Diaz.
StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.