Becoming Us is a new show on ABC Family that tells the story of a transgender father through the eyes of his son. By telling their story, the family is hoping to bring awareness to the transgender community.
The 10-episode docu-series follows 49-year-old Carly Lehwald, formally known as “Charlie,” and her son, Ben Lehwald, from Evanston, Illinois. Ben’s mom and Carly’s ex-wife, Suzy Crawford, and her daughter from a previous relationship, Sutton Crawford, are also featured on the show, which shows the family adjusting to Carly’s transition from a man to a woman, ABC News reports.
The show, which premiered on Monday, comes on the heels of Caitlyn Jenner’s transition announcement and Vanity Fair cover where she unveiled her new identity. However, the family hopes that Becoming Us will be easier for viewers to relate with.
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Ben, now a senior at Evanston Township High School said he just thought his dad was being weird when he started painting his nails, growing out his hair, and shaving his legs. He didn’t realize that his dad was transitioning until Charlie actually sat him down and told him that he was transgender. “Charlie, he had a lot of reserved emotions,” Ben said, according to the L.A. Times. “Once Carly came about, I totally understood. I totally got to see [who] Charlie really was, if that makes sense. I now see more of her true self.”
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While her family seems to be accepting Carly’s decision well, they said it wasn’t always easy. Carly has been in the transitioning process for nine years, and Ben’s mother Suzy said it took quite a toll on her son.
“I was blindsided by the whole thing,” said Ben. “It was hard to keep my head above the water. For a while, I held a lot of my emotions in, trying to get rid of the thoughts in my head. I couldn’t take it.”
Meet our new favorite family from the inspirational transgender reality series @BecomingUsTV. We can’t wait to watch! pic.twitter.com/vVLetiyDbh
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Suzy said it wasn’t an easy thing to understand for her either, and she struggled with acceptance. “It was a good three or four months where I had to make some real serious adjustments and process lots of things that were coming at me,” she said. “The loss of my husband, loss of my marriage, being concerned with my son.” Ben actually came up with the idea for Becoming Us, and wanted the show to “create a platform for kids that have family members that are trans.” Eight months later, after Carly agreed to participate, Suzy started reaching out to television networks, not really believing anything would come of it.
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“It’s one of those parental things where you’ve got a 15-year-old with a really big idea,” Carly said. “I wasn’t skeptical, but I was kind of cavalier, thinking it’ll never happen.”
Ryan Seacrest heard of the idea, and wanted to be part of the project. He is now serving as the executive producer.
“The only reason I wanted to do this was to be of service to my community and people who have children or parents that are transitioning,” Carly said. “We are normal people. We’re not freaks, not to be laughed at, pointed at, stared at.”
[Photo via Facebook / Becoming Us]