OMAHA, Neb. – A west Omaha couple says their 8-year-old son has asked for years to wear dresses and change his name, so they're enrolling him in a new school where he can live openly as a girl.
The parents say their middle child is transgender, and he's asked to be called girl since age 4.
"One night she said, 'Every night when I go to bed, I pray my inside will match my outside. But it never happens,"' the mother said, recalling a conversation with her child.
The family, which is not being identified to protect them from possible harm, met with therapists and gender experts before deciding to switch the child's gender affiliation.
Ellie Hites, an Omaha therapist who's worked with more than 200 transgender people in the city, says it's healthier to live as one's chosen gender when there's a discrepancy with the biological gender.
"It's like they arrive here with one biology but the mental set is counter to that," she said.
Many of Hites' transgender clients have suffered from nervous breakdowns, suicide attempts and deep depression because they've been forced to hide their true identity, she said.
As the 8-year-old explained: "It's kind of like you're trapped somewhere and you can't get out."
He's been allowed to dress as a girl at home, but has had to dress and act as a boy in public. The family says that will soon change.
The child recently completed second grade at a local Catholic school. His parents agreed to allow him to enter third grade as a girl, but the Rev. Joseph Taphorn, chancellor of the Omaha Archdiocese, won't allow it.
Taphorn said it would be disruptive to other students who've come to know their classmate as a boy.
So, the child will be enrolled in public school — as a girl.
"Now I can wear nail polish, get rid of all my boy clothes and not worry about that name," the child said. He's also looking forward to growing a ponytail and getting his ears pierced.
Information from: KETV-TV, http://www.ketv.com