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четверг, 23 февраля 2017 г.

‘My longed for little girl will soon be my son’

Discovering her teenage daughter was desperate to be a boy was only the start of a soul-searching journey for Jacky Jones. This is her family’s emotional story

Jacky is supporting Emily's decision to become a man
Jacky, 52, a housewife from Salisbury, Wiltshire, says: "Being a mum is the toughest job in the world. There's no textbook on how to bring up kids, but there are rites of passage that everyone expects - first tooth, first steps...
However, there are some things you can never anticipate. Like your little girl telling you that she wants to become a boy. Not just a tomboy, but a boy in every sense of the word.
Last year my daughter Emily, then 16, did just that. We'd been out for lunch and she came to talk to me with her eyes red from crying. 'I want surgery to be a man,' she said.
I've always prided myself on being a liberal mum, encouraging my kids to be open with me, to tell me anything. But this? It was something else. I started crying as we talked it through. Could my baby really want to change her sex? In hindsight, I feel stupid for not realising how different she felt.
Emily had never been what you might call a conventional girl. I had a son, Christopher, from a previous relationship when I met Emily's dad, Ron. And while I loved my boy, I craved a little girl to dote on. Someone I could dress in pretty frocks and take shopping, someone who'd share her secrets with me. So, when Emily was born on June 9, 1992, I was delighted.
Emily, aged 18 months
But, by the age of two, she was already rebelling against my idea of being girlie. Her dolls were discarded and dresses swapped for jeans and T-shirts.
When Emily was growing up, I'd always been open with her about puberty. It's a tough time for all teens, but Emily reaction was extreme. When her periods started at the age of 11, she was angry. 'I hate them,' she spat.
As her body began to change, I encouraged her to embrace her new shape. Going shopping for her first bra ¿was a milestone that mums and daughters do together, but Emily's eyes filled with tears as the shop assistant wound ¿a measuring tape around her chest.
Seeing her so upset, I grabbed the first training bra I could find, paid up and fled the shop. 'I shouldn't have forced her to go,' I sighed to Ron, as Emily hid in her room. I thought I had overwhelmed her, growing up is scary, after all.
Jacky had longed for a girl
Next, I waited for her to discover boys. When she was 14, Emily had something to tell me. 'I like boys and girls,' she said. I was surprised. No parent expects to hear their teenage daughter tell them that. But I'd grown up around gay people and I knew what it meant. She was still my Emily.
As she chatted away about a girl she had a crush on, I was surprised how natural it felt to hear Emily talking that way. I was pleased she could be so open. As she talked, I thought about Emily's tomboy nature, her hatred of becoming a woman, her bisexuality. I started to wonder if it was all linked. Was there someone else she was meant to be?
I knew a friend's husband had become a woman after years of living unhappily as a man. The idea of transsexuality wasn't new to me. What if Emily wanted to live as the opposite sex, too? However, if that was going to be right for Emily, it was something she needed to realise herself.
From that point, the Emily we knew disappeared. We thought it was teenage angst, but as the weeks passed, Emily got more depressed. We rowed constantly, and Ron and I had to see her teachers because she skipped lessons so often.
Then Ron noticed scars on Emily's arms. 'I've been cutting myself,' she confessed.
I was shocked. I knew straight away we had to get her some help and I made an appointment with our GP, but Emily insisted on going alone. The doctor referred her to a counsellor, who she saw every week - and things started to improve.
Emily slowly started to communicate and she became more open about her true feelings.
'I want to bind my breasts,' she admitted one day, explaining that her bust made her feel so uncomfortable, she'd rather flatten it down with bandages under her clothes.
Thinking back to the bra shopping incident, I accepted it. She seemed happier - I had to cling to that.
It was around a year later, after we'd returned home from lunch with Christopher, that Emily revealed her biggest secret.
She was shaking, but resolute, as she told me she wanted to be a man. Even though it had crossed my mind over the years, I admit I was confused. Emily was scared of the dentist, let alone the thought of extreme surgery. I wanted to do all I could to love her, help her, but I just didn't know how.
A few days later, we went to see the GP together, who suggested Emily might have gender dysphoria - a condition where a person feels they're trapped in the body of the wrong sex. He referred her for gender counselling, assessment and support.
When she's 18, and once her counsellor is satisfied she's committed to a life as a man, she will have to live as a male for at least a year before she's eligible for surgery. After that, if she receives funding for her treatment, she'll be given male hormones and we'll take things from there. Surgery would include having her breasts removed and a hysterectomy. She could even have a penis constructed.
Of course I worry about all these drastic procedures she may go through, but if she feels that's what she needs to make her happy, I'll support her.
Right now, the toughest part is watching the turmoil Emily's in. Ron and I have agreed to call her by the name 'Theo' now, a name she chose for the new 'her', but sometimes I slip up and say Emily by accident. It's going to take time to adjust.
But whether she's called Theo or wearing jeans instead of skirts, I'll always love the person underneath - she'll always be my baby."
Emily is now known to her family and friends as Theo
'Surgery is better than feeling like this forever'
Emily, 17, says: "I was four when I first realised I was different from the other kids. I got all my friends to call me Charlie, as it felt more comfortable.
Everyone just thought I was a tomboy. But then I was horrified by how my body started to change during puberty. Periods were a monthly reminder I was becoming a woman, and I hated it.
I think that's when the daily fight I have with myself started. I can honestly say I hate every part of my body as a woman - every pore of my skin. I feel like a doll that's been put together back to front.
At 14, I started to have feelings for girls as well as boys, and even had a few girlfriends. It just felt right. But by 15, I knew it was more than my sexuality that needed to change.
I'd watched the film Boys Don't Cry, which is about a transsexual. Hilary Swank's character wrapped her boobs up with bandages to look more masculine.
I experimented with some bandages and felt as if I was finally looking at the real me. I liked how it felt and wanted to do it more. I knew that a friend's dad had changed gender, and I completely understood why he'd needed to do it.
After wrestling with my thoughts for months, I finally admitted to myself that underneath, I was a boy. And suddenly, everything made sense.
But the thought of telling my parents was terrifying. I knew the stories about Mum wanting a little girl more than anything, and I dreaded ruining that for her. But I couldn't keep it from them.
In the end, I felt so upset, I thought I was going to burst, so I had to let it out.
Although she was shocked, Mum was great. She's never doubted me or thought it was just a phase.
While I wait for an appointment with a gender counsellor, I'm trying to live some of my life as a boy. Mum, Dad and my best mates call me by my male name, Theo, which I chose because I felt it suited me.
My teachers know, and the more sensitive ones call me Em, but I'm still faced with daily problems, like when we're paired 'boy, girl' with the lads from the local boys' school when they come for lessons. Or when they say 'hello ladies' in the morning. It hurts that people call me a 'she' all the time when I know inside I should be a 'he'.
I know I stand out - I'm so obviously different - but I've never been bullied. I've got a close group of friends and they're all really supportive. But I am looking forward to going to uni to study psychology and start afresh. I'd like to go on to work in the gender identity field. I want to help other people like me.
The thought of surgery scares me, but I want to feel 'right'. What scares me more is feeling like this forever.
I just hope I can escape Emily's body and become Theo full-time soon. He's the person I'm meant to be."
Ron with a young Emily
'I've changed her name to Theo on my mobile'
Ron, 50, a health and safety manager for South West Trains, says: "I hope I'm open-minded, but it's hard when it's your own little girl telling you she wants to be a boy. I have to admit part of me hoped it was a phase - but then Theo's not like that.
I do have emotional moments. I walk to work and find myself getting upset about it. But I think what's most heartbreaking is knowing Theo is so unhappy as the sex she is now. I just feel powerless, like I can't really understand or help her.
I try my best to call her Theo, but nicknames like Ems and Em J come out naturally. Recently I changed Emily's name to Theo on my mobile - it feels strange when I get a call.
But ultimately Theo hasn't changed. I haven't lost a daughter because Theo is still that person. What's inside doesn't change."

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