Nine-year-old Freddy* started showing signs of gender dysphoria when he was a toddler. He vehemently rejected anything he deemed feminine, hacked off his hair with scissors and refused to go swimming, fearing he’d have to wear a girl’s costume. If he felt he didn’t look “boy enough”, he wouldn’t leave the house. Freddy saw gender in everything – clothing, activities, music, even food.
“It took me a few months of saying none of this stuff is for boys or girls, this is just stuff for people,” says his mother, Hope*. She had long assumed his actions were just the quirks of a committed tomboy. Her perception changed one afternoon when Freddy was called a “good boy” by a friendly shop assistant; he immediately shot his mother a look as if to say “don’t you tell her I’m not a boy”.