Annette Bening opens up about her transgender son Stephen: 'I'm very, very proud of him'

Annette Bening is a proud mother.

The American Beauty actress, 61, made rare public comments about her transgender son Stephen Ira’s transition, praising him for doing something “very challenging” with “great style” and “great intelligence.”

Bening spoke about her son with husband Warren Beatty in a new interview with AARP, telling a story about the now 27-year-old writer giving her a novel called Little Fish by Casey Plett. The book tells the story of a 30-year-old who finds evidence that her late grandfather, a devout Mennonite farmer, might have been transgender himself.

Of Stephen, who was born Kathlyn and began his transition journey at 14, Bening said, “He's managed something that's very challenging with great style and great intelligence. He's an articulate, thoughtful person, and I'm very, very proud of him."

Bening, now an empty nester with her movie star husband of nearly 30 years (“We're both still adjusting to the quiet at home”), said she’s learning to let go a little bit when it comes to parenting adult children, also including Benjamin, 25, Isabel, 22, and Ella, 19.

“When I was younger, part of me thought I could save my children from having to suffer, which was, of course, ridiculous,” she said. “They have to go through their struggles.”

However, “They're very much their own people now."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 09: Annette Bening and Warren Beatty  attend the 73rd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 09, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

And they are still there for their mom — including giving her backstory when she landed her role, as Supreme Intelligence / Dr. Wendy Lawson, in Captain Marvel.

“My kids had to explain the character to me,” she said of the cyborg.

Stephen hasn’t had it easy transitioning in the spotlight. The tabloids singled him out as he did so, running photos of him and speculating about his gender.

Despite this, Stephen found his voice at an early age. In 2011, he spoke out publicly against Chaz Bono for the image of trans people he presented, taking issue with Bono saying transgenderism was "a birth defect, like a cleft palate" and "being male and having breasts is about the worst thing I could imagine." Stephen said, that he held no "ill will" against Bono, "I just don't want anyone thinking that he's qualified to offer Trans 101, you know?" Stephen also publicly criticized Sarah Lawrence College, where he attended college, for refusing to accept his chosen name, saying he "refuses to be treated as a logistical problem." The following year, Stephen spoke openly about transitioning in a video for a trans website and called his friends his greatest supporters.

But his parents have shown him support, too. In 2016, Beatty called Stephen “a revolutionary, a genius, and my hero.” The following year, Bening praised Stephen, saying, “I learned a lot and he taught me a lot” and applauded his trans activism, noting, “He’s more articulate than I am.”

32 PHOTOS
Warren Beatty through the years
See Gallery
Warren Beatty through the years
American actor Warren Beatty (Henry Warren Beaty) kissing American actress Natalie Wood (Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko) in a scene from the film Splendor in the Grass. USA, 1961 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio by Getty Images)
circa 1955: American actor Warren Beatty wears a white button-down shirt in his apartment. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Joan Collins and Warren Beatty who are engaged. (Photo by Michael Ward/Getty Images)
Circa 1961, American actors Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood (1938 - 1981) look over their shoulders while seated together at a formal event. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)
Warren Beatty during the festival in Cannes (Photo by Daniel Fallot/INA via Getty Images)
American actors Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood (1938 - 1981) at the Cannes Film Festival, France, 14th May 1962. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
circa 1965: American actor Warren Beatty smiling with his arm around British-born actor Joan Collins. Beatty is wearing a tuxedo. Collins is wearing a silk jacket with a high collar. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American actor Warren Beatty, wearing a cardigan and glasses, portrayed outside the Excelsior Hotel while standing next to a woman holding a newspaper, Lido, Venice 1965. (Photo by Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1965: Close-up of actor Warren Beatty in an unidentified movie, ca.1960s. (Photo by Camerique/Getty Images)
American actor Warren Beatty portrayed while sitting on a sail boat side on the Lido beach, in front of the Excelsior Hotel, Lido, Venice, 1956.(Photo by Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1965: Close-up of actor Warren Beatty in an unidentified movie, ca.1960s. (Photo by Camerique/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1965: Close-up of actor Warren Beatty in an unidentified movie, ca.1960s. (Photo by Camerique/Getty Images)
American actor Warren Beatty in a promotional portrait for 'Kaleidoscope', directed by Jack Smight, 1966. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
American actor Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow on the set of the crime drama 'Bonnie and Clyde', 1967. (Photo by Henry Gris/FPG/Getty Images)
American actor Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow in 'Bonnie And Clyde', directed by Arthur Penn, 1967. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Richard Burton, Guest, and Warren Beatty during 'A Flea in Her Ear' Paris Premiere in Paris, France, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1970: Scene showing Warren Beatty lying down next to Elizabeth Taylor, from the movie 'Only Game in Town', 1970. (Photo by Camerique/Getty Images)
Warren Beatty with Michael J. Pollard; circa 1970; New York. (Photo by Art Zelin/Getty Images)
Portrait series of actor Warren Beatty as he knots his necktie, late 1960s or early 1970s. (Photo by Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Warren Beatty during International Film Importers of America - February 27, 1970 at Americana Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn hold money in a scene from the film '$', 1971. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) *30.03.1937-Schauspieler, Regisseur; USAin dem Film `Shampoo'Regie : Hal AshbyUSA 1975 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Warren Beatty (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)
Warren Beatty during National Association of Theater Owners Awards at Americana Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Warren Beatty during Tri-Star Pictures Pre-Oscar Party at Chasen's Restaurant in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Warren Beatty during 49th Annual Golden Globe Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
05/11/98 - The Four Seasons Hotel, NW DC Actor Warren Beatty, in town to promote his new film 'Bulworth', during interview with the Post. PHOTOG: Bill O'Leary/TWP. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
Warren Beatty & Annette Bening during 11th Annual AIDS Project Los Angeles 'Commitment to Life' Gala at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Warren Beatty, recipient of the Millestone Award during The 15th Annual Producers Guild Awards - Show at Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, Ca, United States. (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 17: Actors Annette Bening (left) and husband Warren Beatty pose at the 15th Annual Producers Guild Awards on January 17, 2004 at the Century Plaza Hotel, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 27: Actors Warren Beatty and wife Annette Bening attend the Governors Ball after the 77th Annual Academy Awards at The Highlands on February 27, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle’s newsletter.

 

Read Full Story