Recreating a memory

After Rebecca made her transition to Adam, he wanted to show the world in a creative, yet poetic way; by recreating a photo that he took when he was no older than two-years-old, to show how far he’d come. Courtesy photos

RUSSELL – Adam Prashaw was a happy, ambitious and brave young man who faced numerous challenges throughout his life – even back to his childhood when he was known as Rebecca.

Adam’s father Rick, and his then-wife Suzanne, were so sure they were having a boy, Suzanne could just feel it. They were so sure that they went ahead and they named their future son, Adam. However, much to their surprise, Suzanne gave birth to a little girl who they named Rebecca Adam; but, as Adam grew up, it became clear that Suzanne had been right all along.

In February of this year, former Russell resident Rick Prashaw released his book, Soar, Adam, Soar, co- authored by himself, and Adam, detailing his son’s journey as a transgender youth to finding the man in the mirror.

“Everybody wants a date but there’s no such thing because it’s such a gradual thing,” said Rick. “His transition had many different episodes.” Rick described Rebecca as an “obvious tomboy,” who shirked the feminine style. “We could never get the kid in a dress,” laughed Rick. “There [is] a very funny first communion photo and story in the book, one of the very few times where we have this kid in a dress.”

The child who identified as Rebecca started exhibiting traits of boyhood as early as the age of two. “It started early, that she saw this boy, even though [she] was Rebecca,” said Rick.

The child who identified as Rebecca went through a time where she put up photos of boys around her room, but that soon changed later on. “After we left Russell, Rebecca put up the cute boy pictures from the magazines on her wall,” said Rick. “But, one day, she confesses in high school to her mom that she really likes girls, so she must be a lesbian, which is okay.”

Despite his religious upbringing and his previous tenure as a priest, Rick wanted to support his then daughter through whatever emotions and feelings she was going through. However, at this time, Rebecca was only starting to make sense of her journey.

“After a couple more years in her journey, she made a big announcement on Facebook,” said Rick. “‘Hey, I’m Adam, I’ve always been Adam and even my parents said that I was Adam.’ So, there is no date, it’s just a journey towards the boy in the mirror.”Adam was 18- years-old when he made that announcement on Facebook.

Certain passages in the book go into detail on how Rick and Suzanne approached raising a transgender child, including both the difficult and happy times.

“I told many stories on myself as a parent,” said Rick. “I had been a catholic priest until 40 years of age. I jumped into the deep end of parenting and I was over the moon excited about being a dad. I had three step-children instantly and then in comes this kid.”

Both Rick and Suzanne were very supportive during Adam’s transition; eager to learn the proper pronouns and terminology. “Adam became my teacher on many things,” said Rick. “In the book, I talk about if I got the pronouns wrong, there was a death stare, he would give me that death stare. Suzanne would give me credit, she would tell me that I’m pretty good at the pronouns but if you saw that death stare, you don’t want to do it wrong.”

One particularly important mention in the book was Rick’s “parenting manual.”

“I joke in the book about the parenting manual and having to revise it constantly and I think the real joke is that there is no parenting manual,” he said. “You just go along for the ride and it was like a rollercoaster ride for 22 years, what I describe as learning, listening and loving.”

Adam was taken to specialists who could help him in his journey, to fully understand what he was going through and what he needed to continue his journey. “It became enormously important as we got to the gender part of the journey, that you can see that a professional doctor, social worker and councillor said, ‘Yes, this is Adam,’” said Rick. “This is for sure, Adam.”

Unfortunately, Adam’s life was tragically cut short. Through most of his life, Adam battled with epilepsy, resulting in life-threatening seizures. Adam went through surgeries in an attempt to improve his way of living. On Jan. 22, 2016 Adam suffered a seizure while in a hot tub with friends. The ambulance was able to resuscitate him long enough to rush him to the hospital; but, unfortunately, nothing more could be done. Adam was pronounced brain-dead two days later on Jan. 24.

“[The book] is many things but I think it’s mostly a love story,” said Rick. “Mine and his family for him but mostly for the love of himself. That he was faithful to himself and that he was going to be who he was.”

Rick Prashaw’s book, Soar, Adam, Soar, the complete story on Adam’s journey is available in independent book stores across Ontario, as well as Indigo and Chapters.

“I think to just celebrate a kid’s life, that is so inspiring and so full of courage,” said Rick. “To put a face on what we want to label and judge. To put a human face on that just makes me the happiest to get this privilege to not only birth Adam, but to also tell his story.”

Adam’s legacy lives on through his organ donations to four different individuals.