We are always thrilled any time we get to share the stories of our amazing chapter leaders. As moms of LGBTQ+ kiddos, they know better than anyone what it’s like to raise beautiful humans while fighting for others to see them the same way they do. They are passionate and powerful, and are a priceless resource for anyone new to the journey. Especially in this time in our countries history, that fight can get exhausting, discouraging and hopeless. But when you find other moms just like you, there’s an instant bond and source for encouragement and hope. At Free Mom Hugs, we know the power of stories. They educate, celebrate and yes, even help to advocate. May you be inspired to do all three.

I’m Karen Orsulak from Knoxville, TN.  I have been a member of Free Mom Hugs for three years.  I have been a Tennessee state co-leader for a little over a year. 

Karen Orsulak, Free Mom Hugs Tennessee Chapter Leader

My daughter, Genevieve, age 19, identified as gay starting at age 11.  She lived this way until age 18, when she official told my husband and I that she was transgender.  We always suspected she was transgender since she was three years old, but she needed to be the one to tell us.  

Genevieve also knew the unfortunate laws in TN.  Regardless of how much support as parents we had, she could not start transition until age 18.  

Genevieve started hormones on March 16, 2021!! She legally changed her name on August 18, 2021. She met with Dr. Harrison Lee in NYC on Monday, March 14, 2022 for a consultation for facial feminization surgery!!

Genevieve.

As for family and friends….as parents we made a decision when she came out as gay, that people were with us or against us.  If someone did not fully accept Genevieve for who she truly is, then we cut ties.  We refuse to allow anyone to be a part of our lives who do not love and accept her. When she came out as transgender, the same was very true.  We have only had to cut ties with one very close set of friends, but our daughter comes first—ALWAYS! Our elderly parents, accept Genevieve and love her just the same!

Genevieve came out during the second semester her Senior year of high school.  We had her as a virtual student, due to COVID.  When it came to graduation, this was her first public appearance as herself!  She was excited and terrified! We asked the school to call her Genevieve when she walked the stage and they did! 

Graduation Day!

What would I have done differently….EDUCATION for myself when she was younger!  This is key!  I could have learned so much more during her youth.  This might have helped her process and helped her live her authentic self much earlier.  This may have prevented her mental health concerns as she struggled too.  

Genevieve

I would describe Genevieve as determined, authentic, outspoken and advocate.

One word to describe the Trans community—AUTHENTIC!! 

We are so grateful for stories like these. We would love to hear from you if you have a similar story. If you need resources as you navigate this journey, please know we are here to help. You are not alone.

The mission of Free Mom Hugs is to empower the world to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community through visibility, education and conversation. And yes, we still give hugs.

Chapter Resources
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