BOSTON (CBS) – A Massachusetts couple knew their child wasn’t happy. So they made the difficult decision to raise their daughter as a boy at his own request.
As he showed off his collection of rocks and dead bugs in his bedroom, Jacob Lemay also said how he hated his old name. “Cause it was the stupidest name ever,” Jacob said.
He’s talking about the name ‘Mia,’ which was scrapped last June, when his parents and family therapy team concluded the then four-year old was transgender — a little girl wired as a little boy.
“That’s the kind of psychological burden that I don’t think anyone should have to deal with, especially not my child,” Jacob’s mother Mimi said.
They say this wasn’t tomboy stuff or some passing phase.
Mia began verbalizing it at age two, triggering a long family struggle with the subject, as the little girl grew increasingly unhappy and withdrawn — stuck with a gender she did not embrace.
“Started insisting that it’s not that she liked boy things, but that she was a boy,” Mimi said.
“He was showing real signs of a lot of shame and self-hatred,” Jacob’s father Joe said.
As they studied everything they could on transgender youth — including the alarming suicide rate down the road — the Lemay’s decided the transition from ‘Mia’ to ‘Jacob’ was better done sooner than later.
“We realized how risky it is to not take action and not to allow that child to not become who they feel that they are,” Joe said.
There was no surgery and no hormones. Those are several years off should Jacob stay on this path — as his parents strongly believe he will.
“We cut his hair, changed his name, sent him to a new school so he could start fresh,” Joe said. “That’s all we had to do.”
Indeed Jacob seems to be thriving with his two sisters now — to whom he has given most of his old things.
“I hate that stupid girl stuff,” Jacob said.
His parents are fully aware that they’ve waded into a snake pit of controversy.
While some experts favor transitioning transgender children at a younger age — others believe it’s premature and even dangerous.
The Lemays argue that delay equals damage, and they don’t mind putting their handprints on it publicly.
“I want to change the way that society perceives and accepts transgender people,” Mimi said. “Because this is the society that my son will grow up in.”
Should Jacob want to transition back to a girl somewhere down the road — the Lemays argue the detour has only cost a little confusion and maybe some embarrassment, whereas forcing an unwanted gender on a child might put them on a suicidal path.
They say they’ve gotten overwhelming community support and want to get this subject out of the closet.