'I'm a Girl' -- Understanding Transgender Children

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 6-year old transgender daughter, Jazz.

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."

'You're Special'

On the surface, the Jennings and their four children are a typical American family. But their youngest child, Jazz, is only in kindergarten, and already she is 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.

When Jazz was two, he asked his mother a question that left her numb and frozen. "[He] said, 'Mommy, when's the good fairy going to come with her magic wand and change, you know, my genitalia?" according to Renee.

Gender Identity Disorder

Troubled by her son's behavior, Renee eventually consulted her copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual or DSM-IV, the book used by psychologists and psychiatrists to identify mental disorders. She read the entry for Gender Identity Disorder (GID), with alarming familiarity.

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