Zach Avery has insisted on wearing girls’ clothes since the age of three.
He is now five and was assessed as having Gender Identity Disorder (GID) after worried parents Theresa 32, and Darren, 41, sought medical help.
Mrs Avery explained her son was a ‘normal’ little boy who liked Thomas the Tank Engine but became obsessed with Dora the Explorer, a television programme aimed at young girls.
She said: ‘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 left it at that.
‘But then it got serious and he would be upset if anyone referred to him as a boy. He used to cry and try to cut his willy off out of frustration.’
Initially, Zach’s parents believed he was autistic but, after several months, a child psychologist diagnosed him with GID when he was four.
Zach now attends his local primary school where the toilets have been turned gender neutral to support him.
Mrs Avery said her son wears a girl’s trouser uniform and black boots with pink trim. ‘We explained to the other kids at the school that Zachy’s body was that of a boy but in his brain he was a girl. We said Zach was just happier being a girl than a boy. But the other kids haven’t batted an eyelid.’
Mrs Avery said she will continue to support Zach, but the mother-of-four admitted: ‘I would love to have my son back, but I want him to be happy.’
Mermaids, a charity which supports transgender children and their parents, said Zach’s case was not the first for a child of his age. ‘It should be remembered, though, that not all young gender variant children diagnosed with GID are likely to be transsexual, as some will grow out of their gender variance at or around puberty,’ it said.
But social commentator Anne Atkins said: ‘Between the ages of about five and eight, I wanted to be a boy more than anything else in the world. Acute though my longing was, it was relatively shortlived.
‘I am more grateful than I can say that there was no one around at the time to diagnose me with GID.’
Zach was referred to the Tavistock and Patman Foundation Trust, a specialist GID clinic. Only seven children under the age of five were diagnosed last year out of 165 under-18s it has dealt with in the year 2011-12 so far, said a spokesperson.