By Lon Staub
This week, Chris and I lost Adi, our dear transgender daughter. And our son Drew lost his cherished sister. Adi did not choose to be transgender and only aspired to live honestly and authentically. As an empathetic person, it pained her to witness transgender friends not be welcomed by sections of society. Worse, some of these good people are not even accepted by their family.
Adi found purpose in advocating for others, so we’d like to honor her by sharing her story and continuing her efforts to promote a world of kindness and acceptance. We will fill Adi’s void in part by supporting Basic Rights Oregon, which works to end discrimination for our most vulnerable community members. Tragically, more than 40 percent of our transgender loved ones will attempt suicide.
Adi was born 18 years ago, as our second and youngest child. The world observed her as a boy, but she often chose girls as her primary playmates. However, with pressure to conform to a more traditionally male role, she sought out friendships with boys and participated in sports, scouting, and camping. But with a new friend group at a new school, she also enjoyed a more genuine set of interests, including Dungeons and Dragons, making movies, and a lifelong love of reading and creative writing.
In raising Adi, we felt grateful to have such a kind-hearted child who excelled at school, was easy to coach, and strived to please her parents. Her equally kind male friends also shared these qualities, but Adi allowed glimpses of so many more richly feminine qualities. She showed a level of sensitivity, vulnerability, empathy, and compassion that was uncommon for a boy of her age. At age 13, how many boys so frequently and fully embrace and cuddle their father and older brother in the presence of teen friends? She was, in fact, Daddy’s little girl and a doting sister to her older brother.
After graduating from middle school, Adi broke with her Catholic school classmates and attended Grant High School. After a health class video profiled a transgender teen, Adi understood for the first time the conflict she’d experienced since birth. It explained her lifelong-but-always-denied fantasy of living as a woman and gave her newfound hope, excitement, and optimism for living a more authentic life. Adi inspired us in showing the courage to quickly “come out” to classmates, standing in class and asking that others accept her as “Aditi or Adi,” a transgender woman. (In Sanskrit, her self-chosen female name means “free and limitless”).
In the 2 years since her transition, Adi blossomed, then struggled. She believed that her transition would have no adverse consequence, but found otherwise. She experienced a profound loss of friendships, failed in school after being a straight-A student, and suffered from depression and acute body dysphoria. However, she also found new friends and enjoyed the unconditional love of extended family and lifelong friends. Always, she was the beneficiary of unwavering love from an incredible mother and shared frequent laughter with an adoring brother who saw her happiness as his life mission.
With this supportive community, Adi experienced moments of genuine acceptance, joy, and optimism. But on our recent saddest day, Adi made the decision to leave this life. As we struggle with inconsolable pain, we resolve to accept and respect her decision and wish her peaceful rest after an exhausting fight to be accepted by others and by herself. But we will never stop loving her for the beautiful girl that she always was and for the lovely woman that she could have been.
With love, Lon, Christine, and Drew Staub
Lon and Christine Staub are members of Basic Rights Oregon Fierce Families Network, which seeks to engage family members in creating safe and affirming communities for transgender individuals in every corner of our state. In Adi’s honor, the Staub family is asking community members to consider a donation to Basic Rights Oregon to a new dedicated fund: The Adi Staub Transgender Leadership Fund. Your donation will support scholarships for transgender youth to our Statewide Leadership Summit, our transgender justice education work and our Transgender Justice Leadership Program.