When Daniel McFadyen was three, his horrified mother discovered him in the bathroom with a pair of scissors. While most parents find this terrifying in normal circumstances, for Daniel’s mom, Kerry, it was the moment that changed everything.
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Speaking about it the bathroom incident, Kerry shared, “He was in the bath. And somehow he’d managed to find a pair of scissors. When I turned around, he was holding them above his bits. I tried to be calm and asked him what he was doing, and he told me he was about to cut off his willy so he could be a girl.”
She went on, “I told him he couldn’t because he’d hurt himself and bleed a lot and I calmly took them from him and gave him a big hug. It was very upsetting to see him like that, no mum should have to see their child so upset in their own skin.”
This opened a discussion at the McFadyen household about letting Daniel transform into a girl. Kerry and her husband, Craig, went to the family pediatrician in Inverness for advice. They were then sent to the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in Leeds, where their then-3-year-old son was diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
Daniel’s condition happens when a child or adult becomes distressed and uncomfortable in their own skin because their sex does not match their gender identity. Back then, Daniel kept saying that he has a girl’s head and a boy’s body.
For Kerry, getting a diagnosis for her son’s condition is a relief for herself and their family, which then began the conversations about the possibility of letting Daniel live as a girl—an action advised by the doctors to make the child more comfortable. Until he is old enough for gender realignment surgeries, he can still change his mind about being a boy or a girl.
Now even if the boy is only six, doctors told the family that Daniel could be given drugs to postpone puberty, as well as hormone treatments. If he still feels that he is really a girl, then he can have a gender realignment surgery at 18.
However, he doesn’t have to wait too long to start living as a female. Daniel, now called Danni, is believed to be UK’s youngest case of a child wanting to change his sex. And his parents, despite initial hesitation, decided that they will do anything to make their child happy, even if it means losing their son and gaining a daughter.
Response had been positive, with many of the parents offering their own support and praising the couple for their decision to let their child be. The reaction from their community is what drove Kerry to share Danni’s story to the public.
Gender dysphoria is a real condition and is not of Danni’s choosing. Today, Kerry wants to raise awareness by sharing her child’s story. She hoped that by telling people about Danni, parents who may be struggling with a similar situation may be able to find help. She even set up a Facebook page in honor of Danni’s change, called My Transgender Child, to encourage other parents to start a conversation and share their own experiences.
Kerry said, “I’ve chosen to go public with Danni’s story to raise awareness for other transgender children and their parents who may be suffering in silence. It is a lot to go through as a family but with the right support it is possible to get the correct help for your child. The first step is going to a gender specialist and getting your child properly diagnosed, then you can take it from there.”
The family also found a support group called Mermaids, who helped them adjust through the changes in their family’s life.
Danni is now sporting long hair and girl’s clothes, and for his recent birthday, he was even able to choose the presents she wanted for herself—a Barbie doll, Peppa Pig toys, and a tram.
For now, Danni’s parents will have to let her be herself. When she hits puberty, she will be prescribed hormone blockers until she is old enough to decide if she wants to pursue gender realignment at 16. Then she will have to start taking estrogen for two years until he decides to undergo the surgery or not.
The family’s decisions regarding Danni’s situation has not been met will all positive thoughts. Kerry herself lost some friends because of their disapproval of her decision to let her child transition at such a young age.
However, Kerry shrugged off her critics, saying, “Most people might think I’m a bad mother for letting my child transition so young, but I will do anything to make my child happy. It wasn’t easy and it took me a long time to come to terms with losing Daniel.”
The only people other than Danni whose opinion mattered were Kerry’s and Craig’s parents, but they didn’t have to. Kerry shared, “I was more worried about what our parents would think as they are from a different generation, but they have been amazing and said they love Danni no matter what.”
She said that the difference between having Daniel and Danni has been drastic. She shares, “My daughter is so happy now and a completely different child. As a boy she was quiet, withdrawn, and miserable; but since she has been living as Danni, she is a ray of sunshine.”
Kerry insisted that if she had to choose between her daughter and the rest of the world, she would choose to keep Danni happy. “It was no choice at all and my husband and I know we’ve done the right thing.”