They lived as mother and son for more than a decade, but unknown to each other wished every day they could be father and daughter.
Now Eric Maison and his transgender child Corey, 15, have tranisitoned into the genders that match the ones inside their heads.
Eric last month had a double mastectomy to remove his breasts, finally ending years of severe body dysmorphia he only told his family about in 2015.
‘I used to wish for cancer when I was younger, so I could get a mastectomy,’ he revealed to 60 Minutes just before the operation in Chicago.
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Eric Maison (left) had a double mastectomy last month to become a man, two years after his son Corey (right), 15, began transitioning into a girl
Eric, when she was a woman called Erica, with her husband Les and five children Chelsea, 22, Kailee, 14, Corey, Ellen, eight, Willow, six, and Savanna, four – along with Corey as a boy
He confessed to hating ‘everything’ about his female body, ‘from my long hair to my chest’ and frequently told husband Les ‘I wish I could chop this off’.
Looking back at photos of himself as a glamorous young woman, he sees a person trying to ‘play a part’ who had no idea why they felt so ashamed of their body.
‘Once I hit womanhood I started trying to play the part and dress as female as I could to see if that would help me feel better about myself. But it never worked, I just felt like I was dressing up,’ he said.
Eric particularly despised being pregnant with their five children Chelsea, 22, Kailee, 14, Corey, Ellen, eight, Willow, six, and Savanna, four – along with Corey.
Eric as a woman (L) verses as a man now (R) after coming out as transgender
Corey spoke about her transition to a girl using $21,000 puberty-suppressing implant, and plans to have genital surgery when she turns 18
Fearing being rejected by Les and tearing their family apart, it was only after Corey started her transition to a girl that Eric shared his secret.
‘We were watching a movie about a transgender woman who, in the end, ends up dying, and I was sobbing uncontrollably,’ he recalled.
‘I looked up at him, and I told him I felt like I was a man trapped in a woman’s body. And he just hugged me, and he said “I love you, and whatever we have to do to make this work, we will”.’
‘It was completely unexpected… because how do you ask a completely heterosexual man to still love you if you’re becoming a man? That’s not fair.’
It was just a year after the couple made waves by filming the heart-wrenching reaction to Corey finding her oestrogen prescription hidden behind a couch cushion after two-and-half years of waiting to begin hormone therapy.
‘It was the happiest day of my life. I could go out in public and no one knew I was transgender,’ she said.
Corey (L) as the only boy in this old family photo from before either of them transitioned
Corey’s heart-wrenching reaction to finding her oestrogen prescription hidden behind a couch cushion after two-and-half years of waiting to begin hormone therapy was filmed in 2014
Corey first realised she wanted to be a girl as an 11-year-old when she came across a video of transgender YouTube star Jazz Jennings.
Now looking and sounding like a girl thanks to a $21,000 puberty-suppressing implant, Corey plans to have genital surgery when she turns 18.
But the brave teenager said it was not all smooth sailing as she was bullied in school, and was lucky her parents were supportive and protected her.
‘The bullying got so bad, I got shoved, spit on, called names… it was hard,’ she told 60 Minutes.
‘There were strangers out there telling me I should go kill myself and telling me that I shouldn’t belong on this Earth – “you don’t have a place”.
‘I would [start dating] but there’s no one, like, boys and my school who are, I guess you would say, brave enough to because they would get bullied by the other boys and called gay.’
Les (L) and Eric (R) recalled how he came out and that their relationship was stronger than ever
Eric said he hated everything about his body when he was a woman, particularly being pregnant with his five children
Corey and Eric show photos of themselves before their transitions
Eric also got strong support from Les, who said their relationship was stronger than ever despite him remaining a heterosexual man.
‘I fell in love with the person – you’ve seen the pictures, she was beautiful as a woman. But equally beautiful inside,’ he said.
‘Having the breasts removed doesn’t change the way I feel.
‘How society views me and my relationship… I don’t care, they don’t live in my house. Us and our children are the only ones who matter.
However, Eric is not planning to have genital surgery in the near future.
‘My biggest area of dysphoria is my chest because I guess that’s what the world sees, the world can’t see inside my pants so that’s okay,’ he said.
‘I can live with it. I won’t be 100 per cent happy but I’ll be okay.’
Eric happily looks at his new female body after the operation to remove both breasts
Corey said it was not all smooth sailing as she was bullied in school, and was lucky her parents were supportive and protected her
The couple said Eric’s transition didn’t affect their sex life because he still had female genitalia, but while it would be an issue if he had genital surgery, they would stay together.
Eric’s only wishes he hadn’t put off doing something about his feelings for so long.
‘I think [if I hadn’t had the surgery] I would continue to be depressed and unhappy and angry at the world and never knowing why,’ he said.
‘The only regret I have is not being educated sooner about what transgenderism was so I could do it sooner.
‘But that’s okay because I have five beautiful children, an amazing husband and an amazing life. So my life is pretty good now, it’s awesome.’