Jacob is a happy, healthy, well-adjusted 5 year-old. The middle child with two sisters, his family wasn’t always this way. You see, in the beginning, Jacob was one of three daughters.
Jacob was born five years ago as Mia Lemay, a happy go lucky typical child. By the age of two, and when Mia could start talking, she started showing signs of not being comfortable in her own skin and telling her parents “I’m a boy.”
Jacobs mother Mimi says that before the transition, her middle child would poke a body he couldn’t embrace, saying things like “Why did God make me this way?” or “Why did God make me wrong?” Such heartbreaking and confusing behaviour for any parent to witness.
It wasn’t until Mimi received this blue puppy dog jumper that they noticed a very clear and constant message around the way Mia felt in her own skin. She refused to wear anything but this garment, for a whole six months or so and would wear it over her ballet tutu and any other clothes her mother tried to dress her in.
Mimi and Joe were worried and confused by the behaviour and comments. But after seeing doctors and scouring the Internet for information they decided to embrace this behaviour and buy a Prince Charming costume for their upcoming trip to Disney World. After watching Mia shine and blossom with all the attention their ‘handsome young man’ received, they decided to make the gender transition.
While researching transgender children on the internet, Mimi and Joe discovered the story on Ryland Whittington and his transgender journey so showed the video to Mia and asked if that’s what he wanted to do. Needless to say they got a resounding YES!
Last year, when he was 4, they made the decision to let him live as he has always identified and been wanted to be … as a boy. They cut Jacob’s hair shorter, changed his wardrobe, and asked family and friends to refer to him as Jacob and use the pronouns “him” and “he.” Jacob started at a new school so that the kids only knew him as a boy.
For young children, there is no surgery or hormonal therapy. At this stage, before puberty, transgender kids are making a more cosmetic change.
“When kids are consistent, persistent, and insistent in a cross-gender identity, and wanting to be the other gender and wanting the other gender’s body parts or being very unhappy with the body parts they’re given, we consider those children very likely to go on and continue a transgender identity,” said Dr. Michelle Forcier, Associate Professor of Paediatrics at Brown University School of Medicine.
“We let them be themselves. So, they cut their hair and they wear their clothes and they wear their shoes they want. And they wear jewellery or they play with the kids they want to play with and they do the activities they want to do,” she says. “We call that social transition.”
The Lemays understand that some people will struggle to understand their decision but they are convinced they did the right thing for their son.
Some may think that’s too young to make such a change, but many doctors who specialise in working with transgender children believe it’s right for certain kids — those who show a rock-solid and enduring belief in their gender identity. For those children, she and other paediatricians say it can often be better to make a change sooner rather than later.
Ask Jacob why he transitioned and his answer is simple and straight-forward: “I wanted to be a boy.”
“The environment that my son will grow up in depends on how transgender people are perceived by society,” his mother Mimi says.
“He’s gonna go out there in the world. He’s gonna travel and he’s gonna meet other people. If we don’t come out now and talk to people and… show people that transgender children are normal and wonderful and they’re not to be feared, then I’m afraid that he will go into the world and meet with hostility,” she said.
“I can do my piece right now and I believe that my piece is speaking up.”