Bri­tain’s f irst trans fam­ily... where dad was born a woman -- and his lit­tle girl be­gan life as a lit­tle boy

Here the fa­ther tells the MoS that far from en­cour­ag­ing his daugh­ter to change sex, it was the LAST thing he wanted for her

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By PA­TRI­CIA KANE

THE photo on the ad­join­ing page seems no dif­fer­ent than many im­ages of a lov­ing cou­ple with their young daugh­ter, but a closer look re­veals there is noth­ing com­mon­place about this por­trait. For five-year-old Jay­den Rogers – wear­ing her favourite dress and sparkly shoes in front of her mother, Jody – was born a boy. And Greg, the young bearded man who has been Jay­den’s fa­ther for the past three years, was born a girl.

They are be­lieved to be Bri­tain’s first two­gen­er­a­tion trans­gen­der fam­ily and Jay­den is one of the youngest chil­dren in the coun­try to switch gen­der.

The cou­ple are aware that a fierce de­bate is rag­ing about the large num­ber of young peo­ple choos­ing to change sex and af­ter Jay­den in­sisted on liv­ing as a girl nearly a year ago, they found them­selves at the cen­tre of their own dis­tress­ing bat­tle.

For although Jay­den’s teach­ers, friends and most of their neigh­bours have ac­cepted the child’s gen­der tran­si­tion, oth­ers have mounted a cam­paign of on­line abuse cen­tred on the un­founded claim that the par­ents had some­how ca­joled their child into be­com­ing a girl.

The night­mare be­gan with an anony­mous com­plaint to so­cial ser­vices from a res­i­dent who saw Jay­den play­ing out­side the fam­ily home in girls’ cloth­ing and ac­cused the cou­ple of child abuse. As­ton­ish­ingly, although the coun­cil of­fi­cials who in­ves­ti­gated the claims found the Rogers to be a happy, lov­ing fam­ily, the cou­ple say it was sug­gested they move away from the area to solve the prob­lem.

They an­grily re­fused but have since suf­fered a bar­rage of on­line in­sults from anony­mous trolls who in­sist that be­cause Greg had changed sex, he must have forced Jay­den to do the same.

To­day, in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with The Mail on Sun­day, Greg, 27, and Jody, 21 – who live in the small Scot­tish town of Shotts, North La­nark­shire – have de­cided to speak out against their crit­ics.

GREG changed gen­der at the age of 16. He has had his breasts re­moved, but is yet to un­dergo re­as­sign­ment surgery on his gen­i­tals and says he’s in no hurry to do so be­cause cur­rent pro­ce­dures have only a 60 per cent suc­cess rate. He said: ‘We haven’t en­cour­aged Jay­den to do this, de­spite what peo­ple think, and we are hurt at the sug­ges­tion.

‘She has no idea that I’m trans­gen­der. Hav­ing been through this my­self, I have con­flict­ing emo­tions about her de­cid­ing she doesn’t want to be a boy any more. It’s not an easy life. Peo­ple will al­ways judge you and I don’t think there is a sin­gle trans­gen­der per­son on the planet who would push that on a child.

‘We can’t fix so­ci­ety but we can help Jay­den to be happy with who she is. We don’t en­cour­age it. In fact, we buy boys’ and girls’ clothes to give her the op­tion and we have reg­u­lar con­ver­sa­tions with her, un­der­lin­ing that if she wants to go back to be­ing a boy, we will love her re­gard­less. It is not some­thing I would have cho­sen for my­self and cer­tainly not some­thing I would choose for my child, but she is so much hap­pier now.’

The cou­ple – who are not mar­ried but share the same sur­name – say at first they thought their son’s in­ter­est in be­ing a girl was ‘just a phase which would pass’, but have found them­selves hav­ing to al­low Jay­den, from the age of four, to carry on be­ing a girl for the sake of her men­tal well-be­ing.

North La­nark­shire Coun­cil so­cial work­ers are un­der­stood to be mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion – but have so far been happy for Jay­den to re­main with her fam­ily.

Greg said: ‘So­cial work­ers can see that Jay­den is well looked af­ter and have no con­cerns other than to sug­gest we con­sider mov­ing home be­cause of prej­u­dice from some peo­ple in the area.

‘Some par­ents have even told their daugh­ters not to play with Jay­den be­cause she’s re­ally a boy. But we’re re­fus­ing to move as the vast ma­jor­ity of our com­mu­nity have no is­sues with us and are sup­port­ive.

‘It has re­opened old wounds. Most peo­ple do not know my gen­der iden­tity. They just know me as a male, which is how I pre­fer it.

‘It shouldn’t be an is­sue any more. When I first tran­si­tioned at 16, I was re­jected by my par­ents and had to live with my grand­mother for a while. I tried to fight my feel­ings, but I wasn’t gay, I just al­ways knew I was in the wrong body.

‘I went through hor­rific amounts of abuse and was beaten up in the street, so I would never aban­don a child in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. We tell Jay­den it is fine to be dif­fer­ent and it is other peo­ple who have the prob­lem, not her.’

Jay­den ap­peared to be con­tent with her lot as a tod­dler. Born with par­tial deaf­ness, how­ever, she was un­able to com­mu­ni­cate her feel­ings and it was only af­ter surgery, 11 months ago, to cor­rect her hear­ing that she was able to tell her par­ents she wanted to be a girl.

Greg said: ‘She de­vel­oped speech and im­me­di­ately started say­ing, “I hate wear­ing boys’ clothes and ev­ery­thing about be­ing a boy”. At first, we thought it was prob­a­bly just a phase but it’s been con­sis­tent ever since. She is adamant she’s a girl.’

For Jody, a het­ero­sex­ual univer­sity stu­dent, the tran­si­tion has had a pro­found ef­fect on her as Jay­den’s bi­o­log­i­cal mother. To be­gin with, she ig­nored her child’s re­quests, hop­ing it was just a phase, be­fore fi­nally giv­ing in. She said: ‘I was naïve. I didn’t think a child could be trans­gen­der and it isn’t un­til now, af­ter speak­ing to other par­ents in our sit­u­a­tion, that we re­alise it is more com­mon than ev­ery­one thinks.

‘I had a son one mo­ment and a daugh­ter the next. It prob­a­bly took me six months to start ac­cept­ing that it was what Jay­den re­ally wanted. It’s been like a griev­ing process for me, though. I do miss hav­ing a son and, as a baby, Jay­den looked so much like a boy.

‘I look back at pho­to­graphs of him now, in his lit­tle suits, and it’s like a dif­fer­ent per­son.

‘ I’ve never been a “girly girl” my­self, but Jay­den is, and I’ve had to learn to do her hair and nails.

‘ I never had to bother be­fore be­cause when she was a boy, she just had a short back and sides. For­tu­nately, her name was uni­sex, oth­er­wise she would have had to change it, but I still get the pro- nouns mixed up, call­ing her “he” rather than “she”. Jay­den gets re­ally an­noyed with me.’

One of the most con­tro­ver­sial is­sues at the cen­tre of the trans­gen­der de­bate is the ever grow­ing num­ber of chil­dren be­ing given hor­mone drugs that could have ir­re­versible ef­fects.

Doc­tors still know very lit­tle about the long- term ef­fects of tak­ing pu­berty block­ers over an ex­tended pe­riod and have claimed there is ‘anec­do­tal data’ the drugs are linked to os­teo­poro­sis.

Young peo­ple who are pre­scribed block­ers are likely to progress onto ‘cross sex’ hor­mones when they reach 16. Boys will be given oe­stro­gen and girls will start on testos­terone. The ef­fects of this med­i­ca­tion are ir­re­versible and can have ‘life­long im­pli­ca­tions’ for the users.

Jody said: ‘Of course I have con­cerns for the fu­ture. I get re­ally

EV­ERY DAY JAY­DEN IS GIVEN THE CHOICE – BOYS’ OR GIRLS’ UNI­FORM? AND EV­ERY DAY SHE MAKES SAME DE­CI­SION

wor­ried be­cause she will have to go on hor­mone block­ers when she’s older if she wants to re­main be­ing a girl. Peo­ple have ac­tu­ally asked us if she’s had the surgery al­ready to her lower half, which is frankly ridicu­lous. She’s five!

‘ Oth­ers have told me I should force Jay­den to be a boy and not pan­der to it be­cause she will get bul­lied. But she was get­ting bul­lied any­way be­cause she’s al­ways been flam­boy­ant.’

She added: ‘This is all about a boy wear­ing a dress and some peo­ple’s prej­u­dices. If it was a girl with short hair and track­suit bot­toms, no one would bother.’

Sit­ting be­side her mother, proudly show­ing off her Yo-kai Watch and Poke­mon colour­ing book, pony­tailed Jay­den says: ‘I don’t like it when peo­ple say I’m a boy. It makes me sad. I like be­ing a girl.’

Ly­ing nearby is the pic­ture book My Princess Boy, which was writ­ten by au­thor Ch­eryl Kilo­davis about her son, Dyson, whose self­ex­pres­sion does not con­form to stereo­typ­i­cal gen­der roles. One of the ways he ex­presses him­self is by wear­ing girls’ cloth­ing.

Greg added: ‘We’ve sought pro­fes­sional ad­vice be­cause we had no idea what to do as Jay­den was only four when this started. We con­tacted our health vis­i­tors, our GP, the school, who have all of­fered help. Health vis­i­tors have said we must give Jay­den the choice and ev­ery morn­ing for al­most a year she’s cho­sen girls’ cloth­ing. When she started school in Au­gust last year, we even spent a small for­tune buy­ing two school uni­forms – a boy’s and a girl’s – so that she had an op­tion. She chose the girl’s.

‘We have taken all the guid­ance to es­sen­tially l et Jay­den choose, which is why the crit­i­cism has been hard to take.’

Both Jay­den’s nurs­ery and school have been in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive, say her par­ents, to the point the head teacher in­vited an LGBT ex­pert in to meet with staff, who also spoke to her pupils at as­sem­bly on the wider is­sue.

Greg said: ‘As far as we are con- cerned, it is so­ci­ety that is try­ing to sex­u­alise how Jay­den is pre­sent­ing her­self. She is so young and all she wants to do is wear girls’ clothes, plain and sim­ple. She had no idea un­til an­other child – told to do so by their par­ent – cor­nered her at school and said she couldn’t be a girl be­cause she had a “willy”.

‘Jay­den was upset. Un­til then, she didn’t know boys and girls had dif­fer­ent “bits”. Peo­ple are over-com­pli­cat­ing it and try­ing to turn it into some­thing nasty when it is just a five-year-old want­ing to be her­self.’

Look­ing back at fam­ily pho­to­graphs, Greg, who met Jody on an on­line dat­ing ser­vice, says with hind­sight the early signs of Jay­den’s yearn­ing to be a girl were there.

SHE al­ways grav­i­tated to­wards girls, and while her con­tem­po­raries were en­gaged in rough- and­tum­ble games, she was hap­pi­est dress­ing up as Princess Anna from the an­i­mated movie Frozen.

The cou­ple con­tacted the Child and Ado­les­cent Men­tal Health Ser­vices to have Jay­den as­sessed but were told the young­ster did not have men­tal health is­sues, merely a gen­der is­sue.

Jay­den is now on the wait­ing list for the Sandy­ford Clinic in Glas­gow, which of­fers a Young Peo­ple’s Gen­der Ser­vice. Too young for med­i­ca­tion or hor­mone treat­ment, she will re­ceive coun­selling over the next few years.

Greg said: ‘Be­cause of her young age, Jay­den will have coun­selling for a long time to ex­plore who she is. The most im­por­tant thing is en­sur­ing she is happy if she wants to fully be­come a girl. We don’t want a child suf­fer­ing from men­tal health prob­lems be­cause she’s been told she can’t be who she wants to be. I know what that re­jec­tion is like and we don’t want it for her.’

He adds: ‘What­ever the out­come, we will sup­port her through it and when she is old enough to com­pre­hend it, I will fi­nally tell her about me. In the mean­time, we want to do the best for Jay­den.’

CLEAR CHOICE: Jay­den al­ways chooses the girls’ uni­form over the boys’

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