Alexis Martinez and her daughter Lesley Etherly Martinez discussed Alexis' coming out transgender in this week's StoryCorps interview heard on NPR's Morning Edition.

The long-running series features everyday folks sharing the stories of their lives.

Alexis sat down with her daughter at a StoryCorps booth in Chicago.

“When I came out to my mom that I was transgender, I think I was 13 or 14,” said Alexis, 62, who grew up in a rough housing project. “And she called the police. And I always remember that when the police showed up, they just laughed and told her, 'You've got a fag for a son, and there's nothing we can do about it.'”

“So, I went as macho as I could be, to mask what I really was underneath. And by that time, I had become a member of a gang. People just didn't mess with me, you know, because they knew they had a fight on their hands.”

“I was really torn between being a female role model and a dad,” Alexis said of the time when Lesley discovered some of her female clothes. “And so, I said to myself, 'OK, well, be the best parent. Whatever it takes, however I do it, you have to look out for your baby.' But one of the most difficult things for me was, I was always afraid that I wouldn't be allowed to be in my granddaughters' lives.”

“You don't have to apologize,” Leslie said. “You don't have to tiptoe. We're not going to cut you off. And that is something that I've always wanted you to, you know, just know – that you're loved.” (The audio is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)