Teen Mom: Young & Pregnant newcomers Kayla Jones and Makel are proud to share their family's story with the world, even if they had some reservations at first. The former couple co-parents 2-year-old daughter Mecca and made their debut on MTV in last week's Young & Pregnant, during which Makel opened up about being transgender.
Kayla and Makel talked with PopCulture.com ahead of Tuesday's new episode about how coming out publicly with their story and Makel's transition journey has affected them and their loved ones. "It was very crazy because I'm coming out to everybody basically," Makel explained. "Not just the world, but I also had friends who didn't know I was trans."
Calling the experience "nerve-racking," Makel also found coming out publicly a weight off his shoulders, admitting he's "put [his] trans identity under a rock" in the past to prevent judgment. Hoping to "motivate" other transgender people to live life as authentically as they can, Makel said he felt like he's finally "standing up for [himself]."
The response has been overwhelmingly positive, Kayla and Makel shared, with Kayla's own mother even reaching out after watching their first episode. "A lot of my friends are reaching out to me saying I'm so strong. They didn't know I was going through all that," Makel told PopCulture. "They're sorry for not understanding."
Coming out so publicly also brought complications. Makel explained he initially didn't want daughter Mecca to know he was trans, but he'll now have to have that conversation with her. "It was a courageous thing for Makel to do," Kayla said. "It's very brave, bold, and I think it will help Makel be more confident because you don't have to be in a shell anymore. You're free."
Sharing their story of welcoming Mecca at just 18 after visiting a sperm bank, Kayla wants Young & Pregnant viewers to think twice before judging, pointing out that all kinds of people plan to have children in different ways. "I feel like we were at a time in our life where we felt like the only missing thing in our life was Mecca," she shared. "I always knew that Makel was someone I wanted to have a kid with. ...I saw that fatherly instinct in Makel."
While the two are no longer together romantically, Kayla and Makel are determined to make things work. "We've always been friends first," the young mom noted, as Makel chimed in, "From us already being friends and coming to an understanding, it hasn't been easy. It's been a process, and you'll see that on the show." Teen Mom: Young & Pregnant airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on MTV.