10/11/2012 06:11 pm ET

'Becoming Jacob': A Queens Woman, With A Little Help From Some Friends, Becomes Man

On an unusually sunny and crisp autumn afternoon in November 2010, a family gathered in Saints Peter and Paul Church in Manorville, Long Island. There were about twenty of them, cousins and brothers and uncles and aunts, packed into the quaint white chapel, which began its life as a chicken coop before it was renovated to serve the area’s booming Catholic population in the mid-20th century. The Centrone clan was there to celebrate a baby girl’s christening, but hers was not the only naming the family discussed that day.

Afterward, during lunch at an uncle’s house nearby, the baby’s eighteen-year-old cousin, Vanessa Rose Centrone, a college freshman, asked for her mother’s permission to change her own name.