At 4, Eddie Hayward told his Mormon parents he wanted to be Cinderella and go the ball. By 10, he said he had two people inside of him — one male, one female. Six years later, he thought he was gay.
Now, at 26, the young Latter-day Saint knows her real identity — Eddie is Eri, a beautiful and confident transgender woman.
A 15-minute documentary about Eri’s experience completed in 2013 by Salt Lake City-based filmmaker Torben Bernhard — in partnership with KUER’s VideoWest —has now been viewed more than a million times and recently was featured in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Huffington Post and People Magazine. It earned the Artistic Vision Award at the 2014 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and was named the 2014 Utah Short Film of the Year.
Eri’s parents, Ed and Keiko Hayward, are believing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Orem. They support their church and their daughter, and hope that she will one day be allowed, if she desires, to wed in an LDS temple.
The Utah-based faith opposes any sex-reassignment operations — like the one Eri underwent — and does not permit transgender members into its temples.
A proclamation on families issued by top LDS leaders in 1995 declared that "gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."
"In my opinion," Ed Hayward says in the film, "Eddie’s a woman and I am hoping the church leaders will see it that way."
If his daughter died and was resurrected as a male, Hayward says, he would respond: "Where’s my daughter and who is this young man that I don’t know?"
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