Jamie Lee Curtis on learning how to support her trans daughter: "I'm a grateful student"

"I'm learning so much from Ruby," Curtis says of her newly out daughter, "The conversation is ongoing"

Published October 20, 2021 9:54PM (EDT)

Jamie Lee Curtis   (Getty/Angela Weiss)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Getty/Angela Weiss)

"Halloween Kills" star Jamie Lee Curtis and Ruby, her recently out trans daughter, gave their first joint interview together in People magazine this week — and it's sparking important conversation about how age isn't an excuse for not educating ourselves about gender and identity.

In the interview, Ruby, who remains a private person despite her famous parents, recounted initially struggling to come out to her parents last year. "It was scary — just the sheer fact of telling them something about me they didn't know," Ruby told People. "It was intimidating — but I wasn't worried. They had been so accepting of me my entire life."

According to Jamie Lee, Ruby's journey of coming out has been a learning process for the 62-year-old actress as well, and it's a process she's wholly welcomed and embraced.

"I'm a grateful student," Jamie Lee said at one point in the interview. "I'm learning so much from Ruby. The conversation is ongoing. But I want to know: How can I do this better?"

Ruby responds: "You've done the most you can, and that's all I want."

RELATED: Jamie Lee Curtis feels "wonder and pride" for trans daughter

Since Ruby came out as trans last year, Jamie Lee says she's worked to learn as much as she can about how to support Ruby, and how to speak about gender and identity in affirming ways.

"It's speaking a new language," she told People. "It's learning new terminology and words. I am new at it. I am not someone who is pretending to know much about it. And I'm going to blow it, I'm going to make mistakes. I would like to try to avoid making big mistakes."

As Jamie Lee continues to learn how to be there for her daughter, she expressed that she knows she isn't going to be perfect, or get it right 100% of the time. But she's always going to make the effort and own her mistakes and do better. "You slow your speech down a little," she said. "You become a little more mindful about what you're saying. How you're saying it. You still mess up, I've messed up today twice. We're human."

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At a time when political attacks on trans youth are on the rise, and trans youth continue to face disproportionately high rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health struggles, stories like Jamie Lee and Ruby's are especially important. Across the country, more and more parents are showing up for their trans kids, and testifying before state legislatures to advocate for their children's rights to receive gender-affirming health care or play sports.

In other words, simply being older or "from a different time" isn't an excuse to not support trans youth and trans folks in general, or for parents to not support their trans children. Navigating gender and identity for older people who may come from different backgrounds may be a learning process that requires effort, education and listening, but people of all ages should be willing to do the work. 

Like Jamie Lee and Ruby highlight in their interview, supporting trans people in your life isn't about being perfect — it's about listening and doing the best you can.

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By Kylie Cheung

Kylie Cheung is a staff writer at Salon covering culture. She is also the author of "A Woman's Place," a collection of feminist essays. You can follow her work on Twitter @kylietcheung.

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Brief Halloween Halloween Kills Jamie Lee Curtis Lgbtq Trans Youth