Zach Avery was just three years old when he decided to live as a girl, wearing dresses and keeping his hair long. By four, he had become one of the youngest children in Britain to be diagnosed by NHS specialists with Gender Identity Disorder. "They told us that although he had a male body, his brain was telling him he was a girl," his mother tells the Telegraph. She is speaking out now, she says, because no one talks about young children with GID, and "people need to be aware of this condition." Since Zach's diagnosis, his primary school made its restrooms gender-neutral in support, teachers address him as a girl, and he is allowed to wear a girl's pants uniform.
Zach used to be interested in things like Thomas the Tank Engine, his mother adds, but at age three his interests switched to girl characters like Dora the Explorer. "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," his mother says, but eventually Zach "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." Since his official diagnosis, his schoolmates "haven't batted an eyelid," she adds. "They've accepted Zach as Zach." The Telegraph notes that just seven children under age five were diagnosed with GID in Britain last year. (Read more gender identity disorder stories.)