‘I’m so proud of my girl’: Trans parent Scout Barbour-Evans reflects on the first year with little Pēpi

''She’s growing into someone who knows herself and has security in the people around her,'' Pēpi's proud papa beams.

By Lynley Ward
Little Pēpi adores books, loves pottering in the dirt and easily makes friends – and her proud papa couldn't be happier with the tot's magical milestones and streaks of independence.
It's been just over a year since Scout Barbour-Evans made international headlines after giving birth midway through changing gender.
The papa – who identifies as takatāpui (the Māori term for LGBTQ+) and uses the pronouns they and them instead of he or she – says it's been an eventful first 14 months, but their little girl is thriving.
Today the Christmas baby, known affectionately as "Pēpi", is walking and talking and showing her independence as she toddles off down a path, not caring to look back for an instant.
"Watching her grow so quickly into this little person is so special," gushes Scout, 24, looking on. "The past year has been the biggest challenge of my life, and the most important one."
One year on: Scout first graced our pages last year, four months after giving birth to Pēpi.
Student flat parties have long given way to playdates, birthday parties and baby showers as the sole parent – who stood unsuccessfully for mayor in October's local body elections – focuses on raising their little girl as a stay-at-home dad.
"It would have been life-changing if I won, but I didn't do as well in the last election as I did previously. But at the same time I raised this super-cool kid and got a degree."
When Woman's Day joins the pair in the southern city, the little sweetie is a confident walker who loves to babble away as she plays.
"There's a new word every day!" declares Scout, who now has facial hair as their body continues to be transformed.
"She's probably got close to 30 words. Her first word was 'up' and it's also the word that I hear the most. She almost linked two words together yesterday. It was something like 'dog' and 'up' as she was picking up one of her toys.
"I've always treated her like she's a little bit older than she is, in the most appropriate way I can," adds Scout. "I don't know if it's the secure relationship I have with her but she's a bit ahead really."
Papa and daughter have also taken advantage of the recent golden weather, seeing in the new year camping and sharing a favourite pastime – tending to their backyard and community gardens.
"She's quite a summer baby so we spend a lot of time outside. We've got a vege patch that we've been working on, and every Saturday we go to the community gardens and do some work there. She loves that."
A Pēpi in her step! The doting papa watches the clever wee tot toddle around the park.
Other days are spent at the local playcentre and on outings around their southern home city.
"We try to go to playcentre every day and we know the museum exhibits off by heart now!" tells Scout. "On a rainy day she loves to walk or crawl around the museum to meet new people and try to join new families. She's a very sociable wee thing!"
When it came to celebrating her first birthday, it was no surprise the book-loving tot enjoyed a party based around her favourite canine character.
"She had a Hairy Maclary-themed party with something ridiculous like 28 guests!" laughs Scout. "She loved it.
"One of her favourite presents is a poi," Scout continues, plucking it from a toy box. "She's a whizz, though she doesn't quite have actions yet."
The December party marked the end of a demanding year for the sole papa, who shifted house midway through the mayoral campaign and the final months of their studies.
Papa and daughter have also taken advantage of the recent golden weather, camping and tending to their backyard and community gardens.
"I was incredibly stressed," admits Scout. "I got about three colds during the election period. I've got a weaker immune system due to a chronic illness and the stress did not help. But I'm so proud of myself for managing all that on top of raising this kick-ass child."
Scout remains determined to guard their child's identity, keeping her birth name private.
"She didn't choose to be born into my life. My life has always been considered public property, which is pretty rough, and I don't want her to live with the direct consequences of that."
Added to this are the ongoing attacks about Scout's personal life, which they lament often belong in the gutter.
"I've got really broad shoulders, but a lot of the attention I get online is pretty vile. I've had journalists speculate on social media about what genitalia I have. Imagine growing up and reading those things about your parent. What if she googles me one day?"
As the dozing Pēpi nuzzles into her papa's chest, Scout has one clear message to those who question their ability to raise a child: "It's simple really. Mind your own business! She's growing into someone who knows herself and has security in the people around her and it's everything I wanted for her."

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