Carolyn Hays on parenting a transgender child

This episode is a first for me: it’s the first time I’ve interviewed someone without knowing who they are. Because today’s guest, Carolyn Hays, is a bestselling novelist who has chosen to publish her new book under a pseudonym to protect her family’s privacy. That book is one of the most powerful memoirs I’ve read in a long time. A Girlhood is a moving, compassionate, thought-provoking letter to Carolyn’s now-teenage transgender daughter, who was considered a boy at birth, but insisted she was a girl as soon as she could talk.

This is a story of motherhood, authenticity, identity and learning to be true to yourself. It’s a story about transphobia: a subject that’s become a powder keg in recent years. And, above all, it’s a story about understanding and how other people can change us.

Carolyn joined me from her home on the East Coast of America to share the reality of being a parent supporting a trans child, the seismic impact of Child Protection turning up on your doorstep and how the fear of losing custody led the family to move across America to a state where they hoped their youngest daughter would be accepted.

I want to thank Carolyn for her candour and I hope you’ll find this conversation as eye-opening as I did. In the light of the recent murder of trans teenager Brianna Ghey, it feels more important than ever.

* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at The Shift bookshop on, including A Girlhood: A Letter To My Transgender Daughter and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me. This Body I wore by Diana Goetsch is available from Amazon.

* And if you'd like to support the work that goes into making this podcast and get a weekly newsletter plus loads more content including transcripts of the podcast, please consider joining The Shift community. Find out more at

And if you already subscribe - did you know you can buy a Gift Membership of The Shift for a friend at

The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.

Hosted on Acast. See for more information.