On Tuesday night, “NBC Nightly News” debuted the first of Kate Snow’s series on transgender children.
The segment, titled “Jacob’s Journey,” was a huge hit with viewers. Nearly eight million people tuned in to watch the story of five-year-old Jacob Lemay, who was born a girl but has identified as a boy since birth.
Since the six-minute segment was posted to NBC News’ Facebook, it has received a whopping 10 million views and counting.
NBC Nightly News’ reports on transitioning children are airing the same week that Bruce Jenner will sit down with Diane Sawyer for a “20/20” special, in which the Olympian-turned-reality star will reportedly discuss his own transition to becoming a woman.
In anticipation of Jenner’s groundbreaking interview, NBC is taking a thoughtful look into the lives of families raising transgender children.
Here’s the story of how the Lemay family knew their daughter “Mia” was transgender — and how they transitioned him into “Jacob.”
'Then the dog sweater came and she became obsessed with wearing one garment for six months straight. In hindsight I think she was trying to dispel a sense of discomfort in her image that was being shown to the world.'
'She would take on boy personas and always want to play with boy things, we thought we had a tomboy on our hands.'
'She didn't fit in with the boys and she didn't fit in with the girls. It was obvious to her and to the other kids.'
'Her need to play boy roles and to be seen or spoken to as a boy at home became very persistent, and very consistent. Those are the hallmarks of a possibly transgender child -- consistence, persistence, and insistence. And she was meeting all of those markers.'
'A mother's heart knows when her child is suffering,' says Jacob's mum. 'He was talking about hating his body, I found him angrily poking at himself one day, wanting to be something different. He would say 'Why did god make me this way? Why did god make me wrong?''
One day after a near car accident, Jacob's mum realised that if something were to happen, she didn't want to 'force her to be Mia for that one last day. At that point, my mind was made up.'
In April of last year, the family took a trip and bought Jacob a Prince Charming costume. 'We hadn't yet transitioned Jacob, but he had short hair and was wearing almost entirely boy clothes... and he just glowed. Something clicked.'
'There had been a video that had gone viral of an adorable little boy in California, Ryland Whittington, and his parents had made a video of him explaining transitioning and clearly this boy is so happy now. We were struck by that.'
Jacob's parents showed him the video of the boy, asking if he wanted to be like Ryland, but he said: 'I can't, I can be what I like at home, but I have to be Mia at school.'
Jacob's parents explained that he could start at a new school where everyone would know him as a boy from the beginning, and he immediately said 'That's what I want. I want to be a boy always. I want to be a boy named Jacob.'
'Before the transition, he didn't smile a lot. I had never seen him throw his head back and laugh. He's a different person, he's becoming himself.'
'He started looking people in the eye, talking to people, and striking up conversations. I realised how much he had come out of his shell and how much being Jacob suited him.'
'I couldn't ask for a better son,' concludes Jacob's dad. His mum agrees: 'I want him to know how proud of him I am, how brave I believe he is, how no matter what I am in his corner, and I will always love him -- because he's my son.'
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