Figures have revealed a massive rise in Lancashire children referred to gender identity clinics
In the 2010/11 year, 16 referrals were recorded in the North West – but that has rocketed to 78 in the past 12 months.
People quickly forgot the little girl with long beautiful hair and accepted the little boy
The Gender Identity Development Service run by The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust sees young people up to the age of 18.
While most referrals come from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, the service also received referrals from GPs, paediatricians and schools.
Lancashire mum Maud – name changed to protect the family’s identity – can still vividly remember the moment her child, born a girl, first revealed he felt like a boy at the age of just three.
Now aged 10, the youngster lives as a boy and Maud sees him as her son.
Maud, 43, a mum-of-five, said: “He was playing with his Lego when he suddenly came out with ‘why did God give me a boy’s brain and a girl’s body?’
“He wasn’t angry – just matter of fact and asking a genuine question.
“Things suddenly started clicking and falling into place.
“I decided there was nothing I was going to do as a parent to influence his gender identity. It all had to come from him.”
Maud says her son had a middle name which could be used by both sexes.
As time went by, he dropped his first name and at the age of 10, now looks physically just like a boy.
“Although it became apparent when Alex was three, in retrospect, I realise there were clear signs before this,” said Maud. “The first indications came before there were any traditional girls objects in our house. He wasn’t rejecting them. They simply weren’t there.
“When he started talking, I realised he was describing himself as a boy and he struggled with people’s genders.”
Things came to a head when Alex started primary school.
Maud says: “He looked around and asked: ‘Can I have some trousers?’.
“It was around this time he expressed he wanted his hair cut short. He had really long hair which went all the way to his backside.’”
However, at the age of five, he took matters into his own hands, sneaked scissors into his room and hacked chunks off his hair.
Maud said: “I was angry because it was dangerous.
“He was much happier. His identity was more visible to others.
“As a mum, seeing his happiness made me realise whatever else we had to face would be worth it.
“He became more vocal about dressing male and asked to drop his first name.
“As he was going into Year Two, I decided he was old enough to have a conversation. “He knew who he was. It was a bigger revelation to him that others might not accept that.
“I explained transgender was a thing and that your body might be one thing, but your mind another.”
Maud went to the GP when he was six. She said: “My GP was wonderful and said: ‘There are lots of children who present at this age with similar things’.”
He socially transitioned at home and looks physically like a boy to the outside world.
Maud said: “To look at him, you’d never recognise he wasn’t born a boy.
“We are out in our community.
“People quickly forgot the little girl with long beautiful hair and accepted the little boy.”
Maud realised conversations with school were needed and the headteacher agreed they would use his male middle name.
Maud says: “It is a Catholic school, but the faith isn’t against diversity. It took time but as understanding increased, the school got more behind us.”
That was in the face of name-calling and two recent physical attacks. But the next step in the process is daunting for them.
Maud said: “It is a long process but with him being on the cusp of puberty, we are hoping for hormone blockers to stop female puberty and then cross sex hormones at 16 so he can begin male puberty.
“I know he has a hard time ahead, but I will support him whatever he decides.
Maud added: “The statistics for trans children who aren’t accepted by their parents or society make grim reading.
“Around half attempt suicide and around 60 per cent self harm.
“I want an alive and happy child who reaches adulthood and thrives.”