Parents share their experience having a transgender five-year-old child

[Photo: Vanessa Ford]

For a long time Ron and Vanessa Ford Jr. have described their five-year-old son by saying “Zach likes dresses but also ninjas.” But they eventually realized, this wasn’t an accurate representation of their child.

Ever since he was three, Zach enjoyed wearing dresses and was very concerned with being perceived as a boy. When he draws, he draws himself as a stick figure girl and when roleplaying often opts to be Wonder Woman, Spider-Girl or Batgirl.

In a letter, the Fords shared that Zach clearly told them at age 4, “I’m not a boy. I’m a girl. I’m a girl in my heart and my brain.”

Soon after, Zach adopted the name Ellie and asked for people to refer to her as “her,” “she,” and “sister.”

At one point, Ellie even threw a tantrum after she was asked to wear boy underwear so her parents bought an entire girl wardrobe for her.

“Since that point, our daughter has truly emerged,” writes the Fords. “She has blossomed, is happier and just seems more herself.”

[Photo: Vanessa Ford]

But transitioning hasn’t always been smooth for Ellie or her parents.

“We haven’t seen that she’s experienced a lot of the distress (dysphoria) that often appears in transgender children, but we have seen some, and it’s been concerning,” writes the Fords. “For example, we’ve heard her talking in her room late at night pointing and poking at her chest saying, ‘Boy! Boy! Boy! I am a boy! I like power rangers!’ It was unsettling and her tone was worrisome.”

By sharing the letter, the Fords hope to provide support to other families going through similar situations.

In a recent study by researchers at Western University in London, Ont., 35 per cent of transgender participants have seriously considered suicide and 11 per cent have attempted it.

“When a person is transgender, their brain doesn’t match their body and we are going to work to ensure we can do whatever we can to affirm our child so she doesn’t feel the conflict between how she feels inside and how she is seen on the outside,” writes the Fords. “We don’t see anything ‘wrong’ with our daughter. This is the way our child was born and we love her.”

How do you think the Fords handled Ellie’s transition? Let us know by tweeting to us @YahooStyleCA.