“I would kill myself if I had to remain a girl”: Meet Leo, 12, who does NOT want to grow up to be a woman (PHOTOS)

When Hayley Waddell’s 18-month-old daughter  Lily refused to wear pink frilly knickers, instead insisting upon Bob The  Builder pants, she put it down to her being a bit of a tomboy, simply less girly  than her three sisters.

But as Lily grew older and continued  squirming in dresses, playing only with cars and actually insisting she was a  boy – even cutting her blonde hair short at the age of five – Hayley, 48, a  hairdresser from Lowestoft, Suffolk, wondered if this was more than just a  phase.

And when, at the age of nine, Lily said,  ‘You’re not taking me seriously! I don’t want to be a girl anymore!’, Hayley  knew something had to change.

Born a girl and named Lily, Leo Waddell, left, has known he was a boy from the age of five, and his mother Hayley, right, is doing everything she can to support himBorn a girl and named Lily, Leo Waddell, left, has known  he was a boy from the age of five, and his mother Hayley, right, is doing  everything she can to support him

Social services stepped in, arriving at their  home following complaints Hayley was ‘forcing’ her child to be a boy since she  already had three other girls.

But when her son, who changed his name to Leo  by deed poll at the age of 11, stood up to them and defended his mother, even  they could see the family were all completely serious.

Leo is now one of Britain’s youngest people  with gender dysphoria, a condition whereby you feel have been physically  assigned the wrong gender at birth.

‘I knew when I was pregnant with Leo that  something was different,’ Hayley told Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield  on ITV’s This  Morning today. ‘I’ve been pregnant  with three other girls and this one was completely new. I was so horribly sick  all the way through. I was just certain I was having a boy.’

But having never heard the word  ‘transgender’, Hayley was at a loss as to how to act, and simply lived day by  day, letting Leo be their guide.

Leo, 12, always knew he was different to his three sistersLeo says he's lucky that his mother Hayley has always been understanding of the way he feels and respects his decision

Social services once visited  the family’s home  following complaints that Hayley was ‘forcing’ her child to  be a boy since she  already had three other girls.

And having lived as a boy since the age of  five, Leo, now 12, is about to begin taking hormone blockers to prevent himself  developing as a woman. When he is 16 he will begin taking testosterone, and when  he is 18 he will have gender reassignment surgery.

‘I’ve just always felt like a boy,’ said Leo.  ‘School was tough. It was normal until year six, but then when I got my name  changed they wouldn’t call me Leo for about three months, and then when they  started calling me Leo they still wouldn’t call me “she”, they carried on  calling me “he”.’

Leo and his mother Hayley talking about his life with Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield on ITV's This MorningLeo and his mother Hayley talking about his life with  Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield on ITV’s This Morning

 

Speaking about supporting her son, Hayley  said: ‘Just as it is with all my kids, they are who they are and I do believe in  encouraging that. There was no big decision to make, it was just the way it  flowed, until we actually decided to change his name.

Leo grimaces at the thought of  taking hormones but  confesses he would not be able to live if he were made to do so as a  girl,  saying: ‘I would probably kill myself’

‘The school  weren’t very happy about it and  tried to look for legal reasons why they couldn’t call him “he”. Eventually, by  law, they had to. But that was a  very difficult time for us.

‘Especially where we come from there was a  lot of ignorance surrounding  it because no one had heard of it – not the  doctor, not the schools, not even social services. Though they were really,  rreally good, and went away  and found out what they needed to.’

Leo, who grimaces at the thought of taking  hormones but laughs when people tell him it’s ‘just a phase’, confesses he would  not be able to live if he were made to do so as a girl, saying: ‘I would  probably kill myself.’

A young Leo Waddell, who decided at the age of five that he was a boy, not the girl he was bornA young Leo Waddell, who decided at the age of five that  he was a boy, not the girl he was born
Leo aged five, when he cut off his own hairLeo wants to be a gender specialist when he grows up, to help people understand what people like him go through

Leo, who wants to be a gender specialist when he grows  up, now feels strongly about sharing his story, saying: ‘I think people need to  learn to understand it, so they can accept it if it happens again. And it is  happening more’

Happily, in 2001, he was referred to the  Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and then to Tavistock Clinic in  North London, the only one of its kind for under-18s, who referred him to UCL to  get the hormone blockers.

‘There was always this  doubt.  If all these people were saying “Why are you doing this?”, I’d question: Am I doing something to make him this way?’

For the first time, the family felt as though  their story had been heard and understood, and Leo says it felt ‘amazing’ to  finally be able to start living his life.

For Hayley, it was relief, and ‘confirmation  that I wasn’t doing anything wrong’.

She said: ‘There was always this doubt. If  all these people were saying “Why are you doing this?”, I’d question: Am I doing  something to make him this way?’

Leo, who wants to be a gender specialist when  he grows up, now feels strongly about sharing his story, saying: ‘I think people  need to learn to understand it, so they can accept it if it happens again. And  it is happening more.’

Read more: DailyMail

 

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