Last year Barbara Walters spoke with the families of three transgender children who agreed to share their story. Now, one year later, "20/20" has reached out to the families again to learn what's happened since the original episode aired. All three families said that the story helped change their world for the better. Advocacy groups also report a significant surge in young transgenders coming out. Read below to find out more about a transgender youth called Jazz.
From the moment we're born, our gender identity is no secret. We're either a boy or a girl. Gender organizes our world into pink or blue. As we grow up, most of us naturally fit into our gender roles. Girls wear dresses and play with dolls. For boys, it's pants and trucks.
But for some children, what's between their legs doesn't match what's between their ears — they insist they were born into the wrong body. They are transgender children, diagnosed with gender identity disorder, and their parents insist this is not a phase.
"A phase is called a phase because it is just that. It ends. And this is not ending. This is just getting stronger," Renee Jennings told ABC News' Barbara Walters. The Jennings asked that "20/20" not disclose their real name in order to protect the identity of their transgender daughter, Jazz, who was six years old at the time of the show taping.
Most transgender children still live in the shadows, hiding from a world that sees them as freaks of nature. Rejected by their families, many grow up hating their bodies, and fall victim to high rates of depression, drug abuse, violence and suicide.
Today, hundreds of families with transgender children — who have found each other over the Internet — are taking a dramatically different course. They're allowing their children to live in the gender they identify with in order to save them from a future of heartache and pain.
"I think we're a very normal family," said Renee's husband, Scott. "I think we have a very healthy marriage. We love to watch our children in all of their activities, whether it's at school, or on the field playing sports."
On the surface, the Jennings and their four children are a typical American family. But when "20/20" first interviewed them, their youngest child, a kindergartener named Jazz, was already one of the youngest known cases of an early transition from male to female.
"We'll say things like, 'You're special. God made you special.' Because there aren't very many little girls out there that have a penis," said Renee.
"Renee and I are in 100 percent agreement as to how we should raise Jazz," said Scott. "We don't encourage, we support. And we just keep listening to what she tells us."
From the moment he could speak, Jazz made it clear he wanted to wear a dress. At only 15 months, he would unsnap his onesies to make it look like a dress. When his parents praised Jazz as a "good boy," he would correct them, saying he was a good girl.
The Jennings wanted to believe it would pass. Scott said he "was in a bit of denial" about what Jazz was trying to tell them. After all, even their rowdy twin boys, who are two years older than Jazz, had painted their nails growing up. But Jazz kept gravitating to girl things, insisting that his penis was a mistake.