BBC show explores issues faced by trans children

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A new programme on BBC Two has explored issues faced by transgender children who transition at a young age.

The Victoria Derbyshire show, which aired this morning, featured a long segment during which two trans girls, using pseudonyms, were interviewed about their experiences of transitioning, as well as their parents.

During the segment, the show’s host Derbyshire, said she the number of children aged 10 and under who have been referred to NHS support services to help deal with transgender feelings had more than quadrupled in the last six years

The first child, Lily, 6, said she first knew she wanted to wear girls’ clothes “because I wanted to just see how it looked and see if anyone laughed or not. And I would be happy then.

When she wore boys’ clothes, or was referred to as her I felt cross and sad. When I started wearing girls’ clothes to school, I felt much better.”

Her mum, speaking to Derbyshire anonymously, said: “As soon as Lily could talk, she came into my room and I had a dress on and she was like ‘wow, when I grow up can I wear one of them?'”

She said Lily and her brother were both brought up in the same way, were given tractors and dinosaurs, and were treated the same, but that Lily’s brother had never shown an interest in living as female.

Lily’s mum said: “I thought [it was a phase] at the start, but this has been going on since she first started talking. There’s not point in trying to force them to be something that they’re not.”

The second girl to be interviewed, Jessica, who is 8-years-old said: “Everyone’s fine about it.”

But when she first went to school wearing girls’ clothes, she said: “I felt really nervous. The office assistant said ‘Hi Jessica’, and then mum went really shocked – in a good way. I felt so happy.”

On why she first thought she should live as a girl, she said: “Because I just don’t feel like I should be a boy. It feels like I’m in the wrong body. I feel quite unhappy with [my body] because it’s not a girl body.”

Speaking about what she might do in future, when she is older, to help her deal with her body, she said: “I could go to the doctors- mum says they can help.”

Jessica was adamant that, even when she is a hundred years old, she would never change her mind. She said: “No [I won’t change my mind] because I’ve always wanted to be a girl.”

Jessica’s parents, a lesbian couple, said they always thought they were open minded, and that they had initially assumed that Jessica would be a gay man.

Saying that members of their family had used the word “conditioned” in suggesting that their sexuality was linked to Jessica’s gender dysphoria, the couple said: “It did cross out minds ‘what have we done?’ and ‘have we caused this in some way?’. Not just because we are in a same-sex relationship but I think you kind of question that full stop. It was quite reassuring when we saw the doctors at [NHS] Tavistock.”

The BBC has also created an interactive version of the interview, in which viewers can participate in the interview.

Referring live to Facebook comments on the story, Derbyshire said the response had been overwhelmingly positive. One commenter said: “Amazing parents – congratulations on letting the child make the choice.”

However another said: “The world has gone mad, is this really what the child wants?”. Responding, Derbyshire noted that the programme had spokne to the parents of both children, and that they were “normal” and “sensible” and “just like you or me”. She concluded: “They would not have chosen for this to happen.”