Disclaimer: Be careful. While I did nothing inappropriate, I am lucky I was never accused of such. Your mileage may vary.

So far, this is the biggest story of my life. The child in this story is female-to-male transgender and came out as such and transitioned later, but he was always male inside. I thought he was female when I met him. To simplify the narrative and express how he has always been, instead of starting with my initial impressions and his initial presentation, I will just refer to him using male pronouns throughout. Why bring it up at all? Because I am an anti-contact paedophile who is primarily attracted to prepubescent girls, and that is how he first caught my attention.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In the early 1990s, when I was in my 20s, I met one of the most beautiful boys I have ever known. He was 11 years old, rough around the edges, as children often are. He had the most amazing eyes. He was loud and intense, seeming to talk in all caps. I already knew his sister, who was closer to my age.

I was soon talking to him on the phone for hours. I once said that I wished we could hang out some time. Actually, he said, his parents didn’t care what he did. When I made sure it was okay, I jumped at the opportunity.

I should point out that I did not think this through, not in the slightest. I thought to myself, I want this person in my life. Yes, I was aesthetically and romantically attracted to him, and I jumped at this opportunity.

We went out to eat a lot, sometimes with other friends. We went to movies. It felt to me like dating at first. It felt really nice to be around him. But I never kissed him or did anything inappropriate with him. I wanted to be there for him, to be whatever he needed. Slowly, things shifted.

His father wasn’t around much. His mother was an alcoholic. He was free to roam because no one cared where he went. I questioned their wisdom in letting him hang out with me. But did not realise at the time: No one else was raising him.

Before long, I was not only his main emotional support. I was taking him shopping for clothes and school supplies. He stayed at my house for a while when his parents were in-between houses, then back with his mom again, or briefly with his dad.

When no one else is raising a child, and you give them emotional support and guidance, take a guess who is raising that child.

Later we went on trips, and I took him to his first Disney park. I chaperoned him on dates. I taught him to drive, and he took his driver’s test in my car.

Years after he became an adult, I visited him and his girlfriend at their house. I made a joke about his kitchen being messy. It was a joke because he is neater than I am, somehow. He said, “well, you raised me!” I never set out to raise him. But the truth hit me in that moment. I offered to officially adopt him, and he liked the idea! We looked up the law and soon made it happen. I am the only parent on his birth certificate.

He once told me I had saved him, that he probably would have died without me. I replied that he had saved me as well. Through him I got to know myself better, to stop being afraid of myself. In a way it was like an ultimate test for me. If I would have sexually offended, it would have been with him. Instead I was there for him. I raised him. I am proud of him.

People have asked me if I would take a magical pill that would make me not a paedophile. As a scared teen realising those attractions, I think I would have. Now I can easily say “no.” I believe I was put in that situation, “for such a time as this.” I never would have been so reckless otherwise.