A mother has said her 9-year-old son announced he was transgender while they were watching a male contestant on X Factor perform on TV wearing a dress.
Rachel Armstrong, 38, says her son Sam asked her thoughts on Seann Miley Moore wearing a dress on the ITV talent show, before revealing she was transgender.
“She asked me what I thought about one of the contestants, Sean, wearing a dress. I said, ‘as long as he’s happy that’s all that matters’.
“She then asked ‘do you know anyone who is transgender?’ and that’s when she told me she was. I told her I already knew.
Her child, now 10 and called Zoe, had already researched how she was feeling online and discovered there was a name for it.
The mum-of-four bought Zoe a new outfit to express her new identity two weeks later, which she put on straight away and didn’t want to take off.
She officially took on her new name in November 2015, which she chose herself after the beauty blogger Zoella.
After wearing girly clothes for a week Zoe became insecure about her short hair, which still showed her as a young boy.
However, to make her feel better, Rachel cut her hair very short as a surprise so that they could grow their hair long together.
Weeks later, teachers announced that Sam would be returning school on the following Monday as Zoe and has been wearing dresses ever since.
Now the family, from Durham, are monitoring Zoe’s development and plan to use medication to pause her puberty and will consider giving her female hormones – which will leave her infertile.
“To be honest, it’s not been a major shock. She’s always been girly. The trickiest thing was changing to the right pronouns and not calling her by her old name.
“I’ve got a family of boys. She’s never been like her brothers. It was from a very early age.
“She was never like them, wasn’t into the same things and she had no interest in playing the games they played or the toys they played with.
“Her brothers have been fabulous with it. They just took it in their stride. Everything just fell into place.
“The earliest sign was when she was just a baby. She used to wear a tea towel on her head as hair. She would also wear my heels.
“She would always choose to wear a pink tutu at nursery and would always pick stereotypical girl things over boy things.
“Another sign was when we took the boys to the fair and they all chose a crossbow and arrow but she wanted a princess set.
“We knew the writing on the wall and it was no shock. I would have questioned it a bit more if it was one of my other sons that came out because they showed no signs.
“When I first found out I did lots of research and I found so many articles on people who had killed themselves and I thought to myself, she’s not going to be a statistic like that.
“It was all about her wanting to be happy and I would rather have a happy girl than an unhappy boy.
“At the end of the day, I’m just loving her and letting her live her life as a happy 10-year-old little girl. It’s just a different name.
“I can understand how people can be shocked but as far as I’m concerned she is my child. I didn’t care if she was a boy or a girl when she was in my womb and nothing’s changed.
“It won’t be an easy life for her but she has so much love and support from those that know and love her.”
“We told our family and friends and we have been very lucky. Everyone was very supportive and no one was overly surprised.
“I wrote to all the parents of the children on the street she played with so they had the opportunity to speak to their children and ask me any questions they needed to before she played out in her girl clothes.
“Her school were amazing they held an assembly in the afternoon and read the book the Red Crayon which is an excellent way explaining to children about being transgender.
“They simply said to her class that the boy they knew as Sam would be coming back as Zoe on Monday.
“When she started dressing as a girl she didn’t receive any negativity. She was incredibly brave and extremely excited. She’s the most confident little girl, her mum added. “She’s just amazing.”
The next step that Zoe will face through her transition is monitoring her puberty so that it can be paused so she doesn’t develop as a male.
They will then consider introducing female hormones so Zoe would develop as a woman however this will, unfortunately lead to infertility.
“It will make her infertile but I know she will find a way to be an amazing mum if and when she wants to be.Rachel said:
“Surrogacy and adoption is something she could consider in the future. Her being trans shouldn’t affect her ability to be a mum.
“It is what it is, I just don’t want her to live a lie. I know there will be some negativity but she has a lot of support.
“She attends the Tavistock clinic which is a very long process. Nothing is rushed into and she will roughly have between 4-6 appointments before introducing any medication.
“Surgery is her decision for when she’s older. As is changing her name officially.
“I’m very keen to get the message across that there is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about and so is Zoe.
“We’ve got a very close relationship. I’ve always said I don’t mind as long as you’re a nice person there is nothing that will make me love you any less I just want you to be happy.
“I’m not with her dad [Paul Farrington] but he reacted in the same way as did her stepdad, my husband Les [Armstrong].
“I hope that Zoe’s bravery helps other children feel strong enough to be themselves and encourages parents to be accepting and supportive.”
“I was a bit nervous to tell my mum but I knew she was going to react fine. My mum told my dad but I knew everything would be okay.
“I was a bit unsure but I think I always knew [I was transgender].
“It’s a big relief. I’m much happier now and I feel like I can be more myself. I feel closer to everybody now [after telling them].”