My Son, My Daughter: A Mother’s Evolution

From The New York Times

Isabel Rose, the New York real estate heiress, decided to go public about her child’s gender
transition after President Trump rescinded federal protections for transgender students.

April 1, 2017

Isabel Rose, the telegenic heiress to one of New York’s best-known real estate dynasties, has always had an ability to make her publicity-wary family squirm.

In 2005 she published a novel, “The J.A.P. Chronicles,” in which she took aim at the Hermès-clad, charter-plane-flying set whence she came. (In a mostly positive review, Kirkus Reviews called the novel’s characters “shallow, mean, self-centered, ruthless and resentful.”)

Ms. Rose, 48, is a fixture on the New York cabaret scene, performing an Ann-Margret-inspired act at nightspots like Joe’s Pub and 54 Below.

A 2014 video for her single “Trouble in Paradise” showed her cavorting around in a rhinestone-encrusted romper from Patricia Field, flanked by a trio of drag queen backup singers, as she sang about how she wouldn’t wind up as anyone’s trophy wife.

But recently, Ms. Rose has been in the news for something with considerably larger stakes: the gender transition of her 8-year-old child, Sadie (formerly Samuel).

On Feb. 24, shortly after President Trump signed an executive order that rolled back federal protections for transgender students, Medium published an open letter by Ms. Rose that was addressed to Ivanka Trump.

In it, Ms. Rose asked Ms. Trump to take a stand on behalf of parents like herself. She pointed out their similarities.

“We are both from prominent New York real estate families, we both attended private all-girls schools and went on to earn degrees from Ivy League colleges, and we both married smart Jewish men and now have young children,” Ms. Rose wrote.

Then, she issued a directive: “Ivanka, put yourself in my Jimmy Choos for a minute. What would you do if you were me? Because I know exactly what I would do if I were you: I would take my father aside and explain that failing to protect innocent children’s rights to use the bathroom of their choice is wrong and unfair and un-American.”

Within hours, the letter went viral, generating hundreds of comments that ranged from profoundly supportive to utterly horrified. It was reposted on the website of Harper’s Bazaar. CNN commissioned a follow-up piece, in which Ms. Rose gently picked apart some of the more stinging commentary that had come her way, noting that there is a subtle but essential difference between giving a child permission to express who they are and engaging as a parent in “indulgent behavior.”

At gay and transgender benefits around town, Ms. Rose arrived in her Isabel Marant trousers and the Row blazers, and was greeted almost like a folk hero — a Jessica Chastain look-alike who had spoken truth to power and put her social position at risk on behalf of a cause that needs powerful allies.

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