After Mario Lopez publicly apologized this week for remarks he made in June about parents of transgender children, Cindy Barshop was motivated to speak out. The Real Housewives of New York City alum revealed that Jesse, one of her two 9-year-old twins, is transgender.
“When a child feels comfortable and open, identity issues are able to be discussed in the family environment,” Barshop said in an interview with PEOPLE. “I believe living in creating an open and positive home so they are able to express themselves.”
Lopez confused sexuality and identity in the controversial interview, and Barshop used hers to clarify his error.
“I’m hoping that the more awareness that we bring that people understand that trans is an identity and has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality,” she explained.
She said her son Jesse had a "poignant" reaction to what Lopez uttered.
“He said, ‘Why don’t you tell him that we learn about this in 5th grade and he needs to go back to 5th grade.’ It shows how evolved our children are and hopefully the adults will catch up,” she explained.
"A lot of weird trends come out of Hollywood…and one of the weirder ones, for me at least to try to process, is this new trend where celebrities are coming out — and I know Charlize Theron did this a few weeks ago — and saying that their child is picking their gender," conservative talk show host Candace Owens told Lopez during an interview on her program. "And this is strange to me… and they say, 'Oh, I looked at my child, my child was swimming in a bathtub and looked up and said, 'Mommy, I'm a boy."
Lopez told Owens that he couldn't comprehend that, either.
"I am trying to understand it myself, and please don't lump me into that whole [group]," he said. "I'm kind of blown away too. Look, I'm never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids obviously…I would say if you come from a place of love, you really can't go wrong, but at the same time, my God, if you're 3 years old and you're saying you're feeling a certain way or you think you're a boy or a girl, whatever the case may be, I just think it's dangerous as a parent to make that determination then, Ok, well then you're going to be a boy or a girl, whatever the case may be and it's sort of alarming and my gosh, I just think about the repercussions later on."
“I personally think it’s just way too young to start making these… I know other parents who have certain parenting styles that I necessarily don’t agree with, but I do know they’re good people and they’re coming from a good place," he added.
Reps for Lopez issued a public apology on Wednesday.
“The comments I made were ignorant and insensitive, and I now have a deeper understanding of how hurtful they were,” reads the statement sent to PEOPLE and other media outlets. “I have been and always will be an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ community, and I am going to use this opportunity to better educate myself. Moving forward I will be more informed and thoughtful.”
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