Cindy Barshop says that when she shared Mario Lopez's recent comments with her 9-year-old trans son, Jesse, his reaction was "poignant."
"When a child feels comfortable and open, identity issues are able to be discussed in the family environment," the 54-year-old single mom recently told People. "I believe living in creating an open and positive home so they are able to express themselves."
Barshop, who appeared on Season 4 of the Bravo series, said she was prompted to share her story after Mario Lopez publicly stated that parents should wait until their children reach their "formative years" before making declarations about their gender, and that letting young children self-identify is "dangerous."
Cindy explained that when she shared Lopez's comments with Jesse, his reaction was "poignant."
"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,'" she said. "It shows how evolved our children are and hopefully the adults will catch up."
"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 said, noting she wanted to use Mario's remarks as a positive learning lesson for others.
Barshop first opened up about Jesse's desire to express himself differently from his sister in December 2015, when her twins were 5. At the time, Cindy used the female pronoun when speaking about Jesse.
"I was trying to find very girly tomboy clothes for her, and we were out and she said: 'Mommy, I want to go here.' It was the boy's section," Cindy told Inside Edition, noting at the time that Jesse wanted "to hang out with the boys more because of the sports and Zoe, the girls."
"But the point is I'm not putting any type of label on anything right now -- just let them be happy," she said. "Labeling what they want to be and what they should be -- no. Anything you wanna be is fine. I think it is so sad when we hear about Caitlyn Jenner and what a miserable person she must have been living for other people. Whatever [Jesse] wants to do when she gets older, she will do. Will I ever want to change that? Absolutely not."
Mario Lopez originally expressed his controversial viewpoints about gender identity in June while appearing on Candace Owens' podcast, but they didn't make headlines until this week.
During the interview, Owens asked about the new, "weird trend" of Hollywood celebrities, like Charlize Theron, announcing that their child is self-identifying their own gender.
"I am trying to understand it myself, and please don't lump me into that whole [group]," Lopez responded. "I'm kind of blown away, too."
"Look, I'm never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids, obviously, and I think 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 or whatever the case may be, I just think it's dangerous as a parent to make this determination then, 'Well, okay, then you're going to be a boy or a girl,' whatever the case may be," he said. "It's sort of alarming, and my gosh, I just think about the repercussions later on."
"When you're a kid," he added, "you don't know anything about sexuality yet. You're just a kid."
"Parents need to allow their kids to be kids, but at the same time, you gotta be the adult in the situation," he continued. "Pause with that... I think the formative years is when you start having those discussions and really start making these declarations... Personally, I just think it's way too young."
Following relentless backlash, Lopez issued the following statement, apologizing for his remarks: "The comments I made were ignorant and insensitive, and I now have a deeper understanding of how hurtful they were. 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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