Eric and Corey Maison, a transgender father and daughter, are inspiring other transitioning kids with their story

Just by telling their story, Eric and Corey Maison — a mother and son who transitioned to father and daughter — are making an impact on transgender kids.

Corey says that after sharing her story, she started hearing from transgender kids and teens who were ready to take their own lives until they read about the 15-year-old’s journey.

“I got a lot of messages, a lot of people messaging me and thanking me, saying I used to want to kill myself, and because of you my parents know what transgender means and I can actually be myself,” Corey, a high school freshman from Detroit, tells PEOPLE.

Corey understands the feeling well. For years, she didn’t understand why she was sad and angry all the time. But after watching a movie about a transgender woman in 2012, Corey realized that she, too, was transgender, and came out to her parents.

Courtesy Eric Maison
Eric and Corey Maison
| Credit: Courtesy Eric Maison

At first, she dealt with bullying, especially when she went to use the girl’s bathroom with her short hair.

“She just looked like a boy, and there would be awful, awful people laughing at her,” Eric recalls. “People would take pictures and point at stare.”

In 2015, three years after coming out, Corey got her first round of hormone treatments. She gained nationwide attention when Eric posted a video of the moment Corey opened the box.

“I posted it on Facebook, there was like 10,000 views in a couple hours, and my friends said you have to post this so more people can see it, because this is obviously having a major impact,” Eric says.

At the same time, Eric was still living as Erica, and hiding the fact that the film also made him realize that he’s transgender. But once Corey had her hormone treatments, he felt comfortable coming out as well.

And their story is now having a huge impact on transgender kids, something that Corey is thrilled to see.

“It made me really happy inside that I was helping someone not commit suicide and take their own life,” she says.