"I think it really confirmed for him that his parents were behind him and that his identity as a trans boy is real," Steve Peace said.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 10, 2021
About 10 years after Steve Peace tattooed images of his three children, Elliot, Hamish and Ace, on his wife Lindsay's arm, the couple decided it was time for an update. While the details had faded a little over the decade and needed a touch-up, there was a much more important reason behind them coming to this decision. Ace, their eldest, had come out to them as trans that year and the couple realized that the tattoo of a blonde girl in pigtails and a pink dress on Lindsay's arm didn't match their child's true identity.
Speaking to ABC News, Peace—a Calgary-based tattoo artist—revealed that Ace informed them in January 2015 that he identifies himself as a boy. "Soon after, when people came up to us asking about the tattoos, we'd realize one didn't match, and it was just an uncomfortable situation," he said. "[Lindsay] thought about covering it, but I said, 'Hey, I'll just change the clothing and give it a haircut!'" According to Lindsay, although the family found it a bit difficult to adjust to Ace's coming out at first, they were quick to accept him for who he is. "I was relieved he had a word for something, to explain the previous couple years," she told Calgary Herald. "It was just so obvious to us that the only thing we could do was to support him."
"It was tough at first, but we knew we had to get behind him," Peace said. "For trans kids with no parental support, the risk of suicide rises, and that was a deciding factor for us. It's a life-or-death situation." Instead of having his wife undergo laser removal of the tattoo, Peace set about creating a new portrait of Ace that better captured his son's identity. The pink dress was turned into a blue T-shirt and shorts while the purple flower in the original tattoo was transformed into a slingshot.
"We decided to surprise Ace with it, and when he saw it, he loved it," Peace said. "I think it really confirmed for him that his parents were behind him and that his identity as a trans boy is real." Ace revealed he hadn't thought much about the tattoo until people started asking questions about the girl on his mother's arm. His parents' decision to alter the tattoo, he said, was proof of their support. "It meant a lot because it really showed how much trust she had in me and that she accepted me to put this permanent image on her body," Ace said.
The Peace family's story was picked up by news outlets across the world in 2015 after Peace shared a before-and-after photo of the tattoo on Facebook and it went viral. "This tattoo is on my wife. She has mini portraits of all of our kids that are 10 years old and all need a little going over. As our oldest child Ace is FTM transgender we need to update the tattoo to fully represent who he is in his happy new awesome life," he commented in the post. "Now, we have quite a few people coming up to us or calling us telling us they had negative feelings about trans people at first and then saying, 'Holy Cow! I was wrong all this time!" Peace said later. "We're happy that the tattoo has taken off and helped opened some people's eyes and educated them to the issues trans people and kids face."
"If you support your kid from Day 1, you'll see as they go through their little journey that they get happier and happier with everything that happens," the proud father explained. "Ace got his hair cut first. He used to have long hair, and now it's short. He just seemed happier the next day. It just seemed more of a true fit."