New reality show follows Evanston family’s journey as dad undergoes gender transition


Source: ABC Family

Ben Lehwald and Carly Lehwald star in “Becoming Us,” a documentary-style show on ABC Family. The series will premiere June 8 and focuses on how the Lehwald family, who lives in Evanston, dealt with Carly’s gender transition.

Rachel Yang , Reporter


When Ben Lehwald first learned his father was transitioning to become a woman, he had a difficult time coming to terms with the change.

“At first it was very fresh so it was a little bit confusing,” the 17-year-old Evanston resident said. “I would get all the pronouns (messed up). It really just took a little bit of time to get used to the change.”

To manage his emotions surrounding his father’s transition and to help others who are dealing with similar circumstances, Lehwald said he decided to share his family’s story.

This idea sparked the creation of the new show “Becoming Us,” a documentary-style series premiering June 8 on ABC Family that looks at how Lehwald and his family dealt with his father’s transition, among other challenges. Friends of the Lehwald family were producers and eventually connected them to the network.

For Ben Lehwald, it was not easy at first to accept the changing roles of someone who once served as a father figure.

“It was really hard to cope with the thought of losing your father,” he said. “That was the biggest struggle, just because I grew up 13 years having a father figure in my life, and it just got poofed away.”

However, he said filming for the show has allowed him to accept what was happening with his father — who now goes by “Carly” — and process his emotions in a healthy way. Ben Lehwald now sees her as “Carly,” instead of a mother or a father.

“I learned to just be in touch with your emotions because you just don’t want to your hold your feelings in,” he said. “(Carly and I) both talk about how we feel about things. We can figure it out if there’s conflict at hand, we sit down, we talk about it and we get it out of the way and keep on working.”

Carly Lehwald, who used to go by “Charlie,” said being part of the show also brought her and her son closer despite some challenges.

“The filming of the show brought up a lot of emotions for both Ben and I,” she said. “We had to redo a lot of the work we had already done, so that was difficult. But I think in the end, it brought us a lot closer … We’ve had a really open door communication between he and I, since an early, early age.”

Ultimately, Ben Lehwald said he hopes his family’s story will appeal to a variety of people, especially those who are also dealing with a gender transition.

“I think there’s a character in this show for anybody. There’s parents in the show, there’s grandparents in the show,” he said. “It appeals to basically any demographic. I just think that it’ll help people either deal with … someone becoming trans in their family or it will help someone wanting to become trans or it will just help someone get through their daily life.”

Although Carly Lehwald said people’s overall responses to her transition have been positive, such as in Evanston, she said there is still stigma surrounding transgender individuals and hopes the show will help break stereotypes.

“I hope kids see it and see that transgender people are just equal,” she said. “I hope they can glean from that, that there’s really no reason to bully kids that are trans … We’re parents, we have jobs, we work, we live fairly normal lives.”

Carly Lehwald also said she hopes the show will allow more transgender individuals to share their stories.

“For the trans community, it’s just really important to me that people understand that this is my story,” she said. “And not everybody has my story and there are communities, groups within the trans community, that have just been really, truly marginalized and dehumanized, and we all deserve a chance. That goes for women for color, and everybody else.”

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