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A Child's Change

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Four-year-old Manuela was born a boy but identified as a girl since she was a toddler. Four-year-old Manuela was born a boy but identified as a girl since she was a toddler.
WSVN -- -

WSVN -- Patricia and Eduardo have three sons.

Patricia: "Very healthy, happy, normal situation."

But they started to notice something was different with their youngest, Manuel, before he was a year old.

Patricia: "The first thing he really wanted was a stroller, a pink stroller."

They figured, what's the harm, and bought it, but as the pink stroller became the only thing Manuel wanted to play with, they had second thoughts.

Patricia: "We decided it best to get rid of the stroller because it made no sense."

But Manuel still wanted what most people consider to be girl toys.

Patricia: "Where he wanted a Barbie, of course it's, 'No, you can't have the Barbie. You want the G.I. Joe.'"

By age two, he started adjusting his clothing to look more feminine.

Patricia: "He would stretch out his shirts so, of course, it looked like a long skirt."

Patricia started to blame herself, and tried to have him spend more time with his dad.

Patricia: "Maybe he was identifying with me too much."

It didn't change anything.

Patricia: "And he said he wanted to be a princess for Halloween. I was scared, I would say embarrassed. He said, 'I'm a girl, why can't I be a girl?' so I would explain, 'Because you were not born this way.'"

With nowhere else to turn, they sought out a psychologist. They were told they had a transgender child.

Patricia: "I didn't know this happened to other people, that this happens..."

Rachel Sottile, YES Institute: "That's really at the source of everything, is fear. 'Does that mean my child is going to be gay? Does that mean my child's a freak?'"

Rachel Sottile is with the YES Institute, a non-profit organization aimed at educating people on gender and orientation. She says kids who are transgender may know at a very early age, like Manuel, who they are and how they want to express themselves.

Rachel Sottile: "She's born with this body and told, 'No, you're a boy,' and she says, 'No, I'm a girl.'"

So by age three, Patricia and her husband decided to change their son's name to Manuela and let her live her life completely as a girl, including wearing girl's clothing and growing her hair. It was a difficult transition for them, to say the least.

Patricia: "It was very painful, because the child that was is no longer."

Lynn Martinez: "You were mourning the son you thought you had."

Patricia: "Yes."

This is now Manuela's room.

Lynn Martinez: "Who's your favorite Barbie?"

A little girl's dream filled with Barbie dolls and pretty pink curtains.

Lynn Martinez: "Is this your favorite movie character? The Little Mermaid?"

The change has affected the whole family, but her 10-year old brother Juan has accepted his little sister and says his friends better too.

Lynn Martinez: "Would you be friends with anyone who didn't accept it?"

Juan: "No."

Lynn Martinez: "Do you love your sister?"

Juan: "Yes."

Patricia and Eduardo admit they worry what the future holds.

Lynn Martinez: "What do you say to the people who say 4 years old is too young to be making a decision on your gender?"

Patricia: "Who you are, I think you always know you're born knowing who you are, a girl or a boy."

The experts agree. Even at the young age of 4, Manuela knows better than anyone who she's supposed to be.

Rachel Sottile: "I haven't seen anybody want to switch back."

For now, Manuela is relaxed and happy in her new life, and this family hopes their story will help others going through the same struggle.

Patricia: "I think that we have to give back and help others, because I know many like Manuela now."

When Manuela gets a little older, Patricia says they'll let her take hormone blockers to delay the onset of puberty so she can decide when she's older, if she is sure about living life as a girl.

In the Plex, Lynn Martinez, 7News.

YES Institute:
Tel: (305) 663-7195

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