By MAMAMIA TEAM
This is Emma Hayes.
Emma was born as a boy, Ronan, but when she was only five-years-old, she told her parents that she wanted to dress as a girl. She told her parents that she wanted to live as a girl. She told them she felt like a girl. That she was a girl.
Emma’s parents – Meagan and David, who are now separated – agreed to let her start living life at home as a girl. Megan admits that it was hard at first, saying, “I don’t have a son any more. Um, he’s gone, he’s been gone for a really long time. So I don’t see any of my son in my daughter now, and that’s really, really hard.”
But both parents have been supportive of Emma’s identity, which might have something to do with how clearly unhappy Emma was, before she was allowed to be a girl.
Meagan shared a harrowing story of when Emma was only four-years-old.
Meagan found Emma with a knife in her room – planning to cut off her penis. Meagan says, “Yeah, wanted to cut it off. She just didn’t want it there, she didn’t think it belonged there. She only ended up with a little scratch, thank God, but, yeah, if I hadn’t have walked in earlier I don’t know… I don’t know what would’ve happened.”
Emma and her family appeared on Channel 9’s 60 Minutes this Sunday night, with the hope that they would be able to raise awareness – and create acceptance – around issues of gender dysphoria.
Emma’s dad, David, reveals that he had reservations about Emma’s new identity initially but has now embraced having a daughter. When Emma was living life as a boy, she was unhappy and caused trouble at school. David says that in the past she could be, “a right little monster”. But since being allowed to live as a girl, Emma has been much happier – “a princess” – her parents say.
At school each day, Emma was still Ronan – the name her parent’s had given her when she was born.
She was Ronan at school, and Emma at home.
For two years, Emma lived what was essentially a “double life”.
But this year, for the start of Grade 4, Emma has been re-enrolled at the same school she attended previously – this time as a girl. Initially the school had reservations, and Emma was banned from using the girl’s toilets, or playing on girl’s sports teams. But recently those decisions have been reversed and Emma’s wishes are being respected.
Emma’s mother Meagan was worried about what Emma’s peers might make of the transition, but in the remarkable and prejudice-less eyes of children, they seem to have embraced Emma as Emma.
Meagan admits, “She [Emma] wasn’t scared at all. It was me that was scared… I was scared of the other kids bullying her and not understanding. And I picked her up and I asked her how her day was, and she went, ‘Awesome!’ with the biggest smile on her face, and that was it – I knew we’d made the right choice then.”
Emma has what has been called gender dysphoria – and is just one of many children across the country who say that they are ‘trapped’ inside the wrong body. Emma is very eloquent for her age when discussing her gender identity, and says that it makes her sad when people call her a boy. “Ah, it makes me angry and sad because I’m not a boy, I’m a girl,” Emma said, “I don’t want to be Ronan again.”
She is quite a remarkable child. Intelligent, engaging, passionate.
When Emma was officially diagnosed with gender dysphoria last year in October, it was a relief for her family – and for Emma herself. But just because Emma now has a name that explains her feelings, does not mean her path will be any easier.
Meagan plans to seek permission from the Family Court of Australia this year, so that Emma can receive puberty blockers that will prevent her from going through male puberty. The next step will be to seek hormone therapy, so that Emma can develop typically feminine characteristics. The final step will be gender reassignment surgery – which Emma cannot receive until she turns 18.
Meagan says that Emma would get the surgery “done tomorrow if she could”, but agrees that a young person should be 18-years-old before making a choice like that.
Mamamia has covered a number of similar stories involving children in the past. In a recent Australian case, 12-year-old Jodie was who was born physically male was granted approval by the Family Court of Australia to start puberty-blocking drugs.
In another case, a girl named Jamie – who was only 11-years-old when her parents first went to the courts with the request that Jamie be allowed to undergo treatment to facilitate a physical transition from male to female – was fighting for the right to receive oestrogen treatments once she turns 16.
In all of these instances, the parents of transgender children or kids with gender dysphoria have been supportive and the children have been much happier when they are allowed to express their identity, as they feel inside. When they are allowed to be themselves.
Emma’s father David, when asked to comment on what he hoped for his daughter in the future, told 60 Minutes, “Hope all the best. And to have a good life. And people to treat her as a person, and a girl. It’s not her fault. She didn’t ask for this. So, yeah. She wants to be normal. She’s a human being. Let her be that human being.”
Emma, for her part, is not afraid to speak her mind – or stand up for what she wants. When asked why she prefers being Emma, she replied simply, “Because it’s who I am.”
If you need more information please contact the Australian Transgender Support Association Queensland.
How would you react in this situation? What do you think about children being allowed to take hormone suppressants?