20 Feb 2012
A four-year-old boy who wishes to live as a girl has become one of the youngest-ever children to have their decision backed by the NHS.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Zach Avery (now aged five) has been living as a girl for more than a year - after first refusing to live as a boy when he turned three.
Zach is thought to be one of the youngest children in Britain ever to be diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder (GID).
According to his parents, Theresa and Darren Avery, Zach used to be a "normal little boy" who loved Thomas the Tank Engine, but suddenly at the end of 2010, became obsessed with the female children's TV character Dora the Explorer and started dressing in girls clothing aged 3.
Theresa told the Telegraph: "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.
"But then it got serious and he would become upset if anyone referred to him as a boy. He used to cry and try to cut off his willy out of frustration."
Zach’s parents took him to a specialist at Tavistock and Patman Foundation Trust in London, and after numerous consultations and observations, he was officially diagnosed by NHS specialists with Gender Identity Disorder (GID).
Theresa said: "They told us that although he had a male body, his brain was telling him he was a girl."
Zach's school - Purfleet Primary in Essex - has reportedly turned their toilet block gender-neutral to support his decision to live as a girl.
Theresa said: "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, they've accepted Zach as Zach and there's been no problems at the school with bullying. The school has been brilliant and really, really supportive."
At school, Zach reportedly wears a girl's trouser uniform and black boots with pink trim, which his mother said is female but still neutral.
Theresa said that although she misses her little boy, the family is very supportive of Zach.
"He just wants to be like a little girl and he's very happy with his long blonde hair, pink and red bedroom and a wardrobe full of girls clothes,” she said.
"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. There are people out there but they don't want to talk about it."
The Tavistock and Patman Foundation Trust clinic (the national body for GID) have revealed 165 children have been diagnosed with GID this year.
A Tavistock Clinic spokesperson said they were unable to comment on individual cases, but only seven children under the age of 5 were diagnosed last year - making Zach one of the youngest.