5-Year-Old British Boy Diagnosed With Gender Identity Disorder

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Wednesday February 22, 2012

A five-year-old British boy has been diagnosed with gender identity disorder, which makes him one of the youngest children in the U.K. to have the condition, the Telegraph reported.

Zachary Avery has expressed that he was born in the wrong body since he was just three. The boy's mother, Theresa Avery, initially thought that her son was going through a phase but Zachary would often become angry if he was referred to as a boy and he told his parents he wanted to wear girl's clothes.

Zachary's parents took him to doctors and after months of studies and visits they concluded that the boy had gender identity disorder -- a diagnosis that describes someone who is significantly discontent with their gender.

A year later, Zachary's look has dramatically change. He now has pigtails, pink glasses and a collection of dolls. He's called Zachy and his parents say he is much happier.

"I would love to have my son back, but I want him to be happy," Theresa said. "If this is the route he wants to take, if this is what makes him happy, then so be it. I would rather him have my full support. He likes playing with his sister's old toys but he still loves Dr Who too and playing with his brother. And we still put some neutral clothes in his wardrobe if he ever decides he wants to wear them."

"We leave it up to him to decide what he wants to do. If he changes his mind and wants to be a boy again then he does, but if he doesn't, he doesn't," she added. "People need to be aware of this condition because it's very common but even many family support workers have never heard of cases in children."

Zachy's school backed his parents and told students that Zach "felt he was a girl trapped in a boy's body." The school even changed some of its bathrooms to unisex facilities.

Theresa said that she noticed Zach's change was around the end of 2010 when he became enamored with the cartoon character Dora the Explorer and dressed in girl's clothes.

"He just turned round to me one day when he was three and said: 'Mummy, I'm a girl'. I assumed he was just going through a phase and just left it at that," Zach's mother said. "But then it got serious and he would become upset if anyone referred to him as a boy."

Zach even tried to cut off his penis because he was so frustrated. Theresa and her husband Darren brought their son to a specialist in London who diagnosed Zach with gender identity disorder.

The Associated Press reported that there is a growing number of young children and teens who feel that they were born in the wrong body. Many of them are receiving support from family and doctors who give them sex-change treatments.

Some believe that treating children who are under 18-years-old could potentially be dangerous. Dr. Margaret Moon, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' bioethics committee, said that there are ethical concerns when treating young children and that the child's parents' "motives should be closely examined." Others say that doctors need to be aware that there are kids with these feelings and that they should be treated.

Sex hormones could pose life-threatening side effects, such as blood clots and cancer. Dr. Norman Spack, the director of the country's first gender identity medical clinics at Children's Hospital Boston, said he uses low doses on his patients but they should be monitored. He also said that gender-reassignment surgery is only done by a small amount of U.S. doctors on patients who are under 18.