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Mum of Britain’s ‘youngest transgender toddler’ beams with pride: ‘She’s been set free’

Josh Milton September 23, 2019
Jeneen (R) and her eight-year-old daughter, Luna, Britain's "youngest transgender toddler." (Jeneen)

Jeneen (R) and her eight-year-old daughter, Luna. (Jeneen)

The proud mother of Britain’s “youngest transgender toddler” has opened up about raising her daughter to be their true self, while detailing the criticism she has faced online for simply raising her child.

NHS worker Jeneen, 37, candidly told The Mirror about how eight-year-old Luna has been “set free” after years of asking “to be a girl” for Christmas and birthdays.

Aged seven, Luna changed her name by deed poll, got a new passport and started wearing skirts to school.

All Luna wanted for Christmas was to “be a girl”.

Jeneen told the paper: “Luna was asking when she could be a girl soon after her third birthday.

“I brushed it off as a phase and told her to stop being silly.

“But she kept asking. My family felt she was too young to make the decision to be a girl, but I didn’t want to tell her how she felt and knew this wasn’t going away.”

In the journey she and her daughter went on, Jeneen described her initial struggle in realising her child’s gender identity.

Jeneen explained how she went to visit Luna’s teacher ahead of World Book Day. It sees thousands of kids across the country dress up as their favourite fictional characters.

Luna wanted to go as Alice, from Alice in Wonderland.

Jeneen was nervous about the reaction her child donning a dress might arouse from students and staff: “I asked [Luna’s teacher] if she thought there might be more to this.

“The teacher agreed, saying she noticed Luna always being the mum or sister when kids played dressing-up.

“Suddenly, I was so scared about how it might cause problems for her. I sat in my car and cried my heart out.

“I didn’t really know what trans meant. For weeks I was petrified Luna would have a loveless life full of people hating her.”

Mum experienced “horrific” online comments for letting her transgender child be happy.

But logging-onto YouTube and watching videos of parents of transgender kids talking about their situation, as well as downloading resources from transgender and gender-nonconforming children’s charity Mermaids, gave her perspective.

She became part of Mermaids’ network, which she said offered her support and strength to handle “horrific” online comments.

She added: “The more research, the more I realised transitioning didn’t mean the end. Luna could have a happy life and find love as a girl.”

Luna (R) with her mother, Jeneen. (Jeneen)
Luna (R) with her mother, Jeneen. (Jeneen)

She added: “I stopped reading comments saying how the parents should be killed or needed sectioning. This was about Luna’s happiness.”

 “Seeing her spinning around in the changing rooms in her new clothes was heart-melting,” says mother of transgender daughter.

In trans-positive parenting 101, Jeneen recalled asking Luna if she wanted to hang up the princess dresses and wear girl’s clothing outside of the costumes.

“She was so excited,” Jeneen said. She took her to a Primark and bought an array of dresses, pink jeans and hair bobbles.

“Seeing her spinning around in the changing rooms in her new clothes was heart-melting, like she’d been set free,” Jeneen said.

“The moment we got home Luna emptied her wardrobe of all the boys’ clothes, put them into bin bags and put her new clothes up with pride.”

But while the pair’s relationship blossomed as Jeneen saw her daughter flourish, other members of the family weren’t as supportive.

Luna wearing a princess dress on her birthday. (Jeneen)

Jeneen had an “explosive argument” with her mother about Luna wearing the clothing she feels best comfortable in. With her saying the Jeneen can’t take her daughter “‘out in girls’ clothes’, I screamed back saying she had to be more understanding and supportive”.

After a phone call with her mother who apologised and told their pair she loved them, Jeneen then had a conversation with the headteacher at Luna’s secondary school to ask if Luna can wear the girl’s uniform.

She got a resounding yes.

Luna came home with a “smile on her face” after being able to wear girl’s school uniform.

“Everyone was so accepting. Other kids would ask why she was in a dress, and she’d reply, ‘Because it makes me happy,’ and that was it.

“The sense of relief when she came home that first day with a smile on her face was overwhelming.”

Currently, Luna is socially transitioning. This is where children and young people change some or all of their gender expression, name and pronouns, before having any treatment through gender identity clinics.

Moreover, Luna’s name comes from two she and her mother would look to the moon each night and make a wish before bedtime.

And it’s safe to say that Luna’s wishes are coming true.

There is just one clinic and charity that support trans and non-binary youth.

There is a single service on the NHS available for transgender, non-binary and gender-nonconforming youth. While there is a single charity that offers support to them, their families and guardians.

And transphobic individuals and organisations have routinely targeted and scrutinised both.

Luna has five appointments set with the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), giving her a safe space to explore ideas about her identity.

But with referral rates rocketing, many advocates say these clinics can’t keep up with the demand from those wishing to explore their gender identity.

Those seeking help have reported dealing with stretched budgets, limited clinics and a waiting time of around 18 to 20 months.

Tavistock and Portman Clinic, based in London and Leeds, is the sole gender identity clinic that offers services and support for young transgender and non-binary people.

According to the clinic, referral have risen by nearly 100 percent in four years.

While many media outlets and organisations have criticised Mermaids, which Jeneen cited as a source of invaluable support to her.

The embattled charity has been on the frontline of many attacks from transphobic organisations.

More: mermaids, Trans, Transgender, UK

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